Cloud Strategy – Are You Really Leading?

When I saw this picture, I laughed out loud. This is what working on cloud strategy feels like sometimes. Actually, a lot of the time. So much to do, so many people working on different things, and very few people to help you know more about what you don't know - especially if you are leading it.

I remember a few years back when the organization I was working for started really getting serious about enterprise data and analytics transformation. About a dozen proposals came in from various vendor partners to help us figure out what our plan was, and then began the grueling process of figuring out which one we wanted to pick to help us move forward fast.

Cloud Strategy Proposals

Almost all of the proposals had the same core concepts and capabilities.  What differed between them was their price, which ranged from a $200k – $2M, the degree of tailoring based on what they knew of our organization, their approaches to how they would guide us, and the professionalism/aesthetics of their materials.

It was kind of funny to me, though. Aside from fonts and color-schemes, much of the content in each proposal could have been interchanged with other proposals, and many of them weren’t even specific to healthcare. With minor tweaks they could have been presented to leadership at GM, Wells Fargo, or really any other organization. They all said we needed “Roadmaps”, “Data Governance”, an “Analytics Sandbox”, “Role Clarity & Training”, “Modern Platforms”, and many other things.

A Cloud Sherpa

cloud sherpaIn one of my earliest conversations with one of my colleagues, I mentioned it would be great to find someone, like a Sherpa, who had been in our shoes, and who had done this before. For a strategic investment this big, we need someone to help guide us.  I even asked some of the organizations that submitted proposals if there was leadership training for people like me.  I didn’t want to rely solely on what vendors said; I wanted to compliment what they said.

I wanted to have opinions, because just about every vendor you talk to wants you to buy from them. How can you tell if they really know how you need their product to work for you? The short answer is that you can't.

I wanted to avoid the pitfalls of not knowing what we didn’t know at a practical level. I tried to find a boot camp, or a certification on leading organizations through cloud strategy, digital transformation, or analytics modernization, and couldn’t find one.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of certifications out there for tools and platforms, and certificate programs through Berkeley and other institutions on technology trends and strategy development. But platform certifications seemed too deep, and certificate programs not deep enough.

I wanted to find someone who had been in my shoes before, in healthcare, at a large integrated health system that could help me with practical, relatable, and specific guidance. I wanted someone that would help us save time, money and talent while focusing on high value outcomes. I never found that person.

Navigating the Cloud

Since then, I’ve learned a few things, like:

  • When to choose AWS and when to choose Azure, or why you might need both
  • When Snowflake is a better option than Redshift
  • How to equip leaders to lead through changes that are happening, and then influence others
  • What the difference is in the value of cloud strategy to IT teams and business teams
  • What the biggest barriers are to fast, forward motion on a modernization effort

I love to learn, which is a good thing because I’m still learning, but I know a whole lot more about the things I didn’t know before. I believe I can save healthcare organizations millions of dollars, improve talent retention, and deliver value faster than what they are doing today.

Professional Services

That’s one of the reasons why I started the Stephens Insight Group LLC. If you are interested in my professional services, take a look there and let's connect.  Otherwise, keep enjoying the free content I publish here.

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