Guest blog: Why culture matters when moving your business to the cloud

Guest blog by Lawrence Lilley, chief technology officer, Mutual Vision Technologies

Guest blog by Lawrence Lilley, chief technology officer, Mutual Vision Technologies

Having a good grasp of the cultural mindset of your organisation is the first step to making any change.

Professor Nahavandi, an academic in the department of management at the University of San Diego, defines culture as a group mindset that has its own set of beliefs and values. This shared belief system leads to distinct patterns of behaviour.

I think this idea of culture is helpful when considering the migration of your systems and processes to the cloud.

The technology within the cloud is predominantly unlike anything we have seen before. 

For the last 75 years, workstations, servers and networks have been a key part of all organisations. The adoption of cloud-based services removes this focus on hardware.  

This is less an issue for consumers as they have already made the shift to thinking of everything as a webpage or a mobile app.

It is most definitely an ideological shift for firms migrating to the cloud as they are giving up perceived physical control for flexibility, diversity, and speed.

This removal of barriers will have a knock on impact on an organisation’s culture.

So in terms of change management, firms moving their systems into the cloud need to consider distinct cultural changes that will materialise from the shift, not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of operational processes, and finance.

Managing infinite IT possibilities

Because the technology is so different, this means that technical staff need to rethink what they are creating, maintaining, and supporting. They must concentrate upon new things.  

A particular focus will need to be on technology security, especially as firms will no longer be able to rely on their company network security systems.

Alongside new risks, the cloud also provides new options to take advantage. Once the technical staff understand this new worldview, they will go from being constrained by limited resources to having apparent infinite possibilities to explore. Managing these infinite possibilities and different configurations is key.

IT management practices are an established industry – back in the 1980s, the UK Government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency developed a set of recommendations designed to standardise IT management practices across government functions. This has evolved into the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which aims to align IT services with the needs of business.

In the past organisations have been able to pay lip service to the practice of ITIL. In the cloud, which is nearly all configurations, this is no longer an option and actively managing and governing IT is vitally important.

Another key part of operational processes is managing your data. Your data is no longer in a noisy black box in your computer room. Your data is somewhere else and you need to know where it is, who has access to it and when and where it moves.

Finance and technology teams working together

This is the hardest, and the most important, change in mindset that is required. Gone are the days when you use capital expenditure once, and then forget about it for the next couple of years.

Cloud is operational expenditure, in the same way as power and heating to an office. You need to monitor these costs continually and proactively. The finance and technology teams need to work together to ensure that this financial monitoring is managed appropriately.

As mentioned above, with the technology team suddenly having a near limitless expansion in their capabilities, they will no longer need to fill out a capital expenditure form, they can simply press a button and a new server appears.

This flexibility has the potential to get swiftly out of control, and requires a commercially aware mindset from everyone involved, not just the accounts department.

Getting the most out of the cloud

I hope I have demonstrated that to leverage successfully to the cloud, there needs to be a necessary shift in the mindset within organisations.

Successfully managing this will require separate parts of an organisation to work together better. Education will also need to be in place to bring everyone on the journey.

As Professor Nahavandi points out, a cultural mindset is made, not born. Looking at the cloud through the prism of the culture of your organisation, should help your business better embrace the challenges and opportunities it presents.

For more information, visit Mutual Vision Technologies


The views, opinions and positions expressed within guest blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the BSA.