It might be tempting to leapfrog directly into AI, 5G, and blockchain. However, if your business isn’t cloudified yet, it will be a recipe for disaster. Cloud might be boring, but it is the place to start. Do the hard work of taking your company to the cloud and only after reach for the stars.
The world is changing at an unprecedented pace. New technologies come out every day. According to the pundits, AI is the future, data is the new oil, and Bitcoin will reach $500k. The tenure in the S&P 500 is shorter than ever, and companies need to transform. Not changing is probably fatal.
Trying to do AI/Blockchain/insert the latest fad before you have moved to the cloud is trying to teach your child to run a marathon before walking. Execution will fail. Credibility will plummet. Talent will be frustrated. Worst of all, cloudification will be delayed. Tie yourself to the mast and focus on getting the basics right first relentlessly, regardless of the siren songs.
The basics are straightforward:
- Are your systems in the cloud, or do you still have on-premises data centers with physical servers? Get rid of those first.
- Do you have a microservices architecture with APIs, or do you still have your COBOL mainframe monoliths? Get rid of those first.
- Are you deploying in agile, or do you still have multi-year waterfall projects that never deploy? Get rid of those first.
- Is your front-office multichannel and automated, or do you still have siloed channels with manual customer interactions? Get rid of those first.
- Are your back-office and operations zero-touch, or do you still have mostly manual processes? Get rid of those first.
- Do you have a data-lake accessible to all through citizen BI tools, or do you still have armies of people processing information through excels and legacy BI with gatekeepers? Get rid of those first.
- Do you have an agile organization with multidisciplinary teams focused on delivering customer value with citizen developer capabilities, or do you still have fiefdoms and siloes that depend on a centralized IT for the smallest changes? Get rid of those first.
- Do you have everyone’s workplace in the cloud so they can efficiently work from anywhere, or are you full of local servers and storage? Get rid of those first.
Doing the basics right will be a long, painful slog. It will also be a lot less glamorous than 5G edge-enabled AI blockchain-native agents. However, they will also be a lot more useful for the business, the customer, employees, and the bottom line. Check on each of the eight basics with tangible metrics:
- # Cloud/virtual servers vs. # physical servers
- # microservices with APIs vs. # of monolith applications
- # agile teams vs. # waterfall projects
- % of zero-touch customer interactions
- % of zero-touch back-office operations
- % of employees with access to your data lake through citizen BI tools
- % of employees with citizen developer capabilities
- # of workplace applications or storage locations that are not totally in the cloud
Maybe give yourself an AI project as a reward if you manage to push the metrics forward substantially. Don’t invest heavily in the fancy stuff until you have the basics right. It won’t work.