Just like people, businesses move at their own pace, usually prompted by opportunity, competition, or market conditions or accelerated by technology. It’s the same with cloud adoption. The media is full of stories about companies who have “moved everything to the cloud.” But it’s worth remembering that it’s not supposed to be a race. We can sometimes forget that different lines of business within organizations also move at their own respective pace; what’s right for one line of business may not be right for another. And there’s rarely one route to success. So how exactly do you know when the time is right to transition to the cloud?
The most obvious answer is to identify your company’s technology strategy. For example, most organizations will put their retail data in the cloud, whereas finance and other types of data remain on-premises because of concerns around security. If you’ve already heavily invested in your own data center, for example, you should maximize the life-cycle of that investment and adopt a hybrid cloud strategy.
Companies typically modernize their IT environment for analytics purposes every five years, so if it makes sense from a cost of ownership perspective to delay the decision or the business case doesn’t justify it, you should stay on-premises until the time is right. Likewise, when the maintenance overhead to keep these systems alive becomes untenable, you should move to the cloud and eliminate the maintenance costs.
When it comes to business intelligence, I always tell people to use BI where their data resides. For example, if your data is in the cloud, run your analytics there. Likewise, if it’s on-premises, that’s where your BI should be. And if you’re hybrid, your BI should be capable of doing both. Today’s technology means you can combine data sources seamlessly across both cloud and on-premises systems to run analytics reports instantaneously. If, for example, a business analyst needs to analyze information in on-premises ERP or manufacturing systems as well as HR data in the cloud, the analytics should be immediate and accessible across all systems. After all, the end goal is to discover the insights and tell the story, regardless of where the supporting data resides. This level of real-time hybrid intelligence should be the norm for your company.
Regardless of when you transition to the cloud, make sure can still benefit from your existing on-premises BI investments along the way. It’s important that the decision, timing, and journey should be your choice.
If you’d like to know how to start your own cloud journey or get more insight and guidance into where different types of organizational data should reside, then I’d recommend reading the following IDC white paper, which we’ve made available for you to download. You can also learn how to reimagine analytics for better digital business.