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Cloud And Clear: Are You Piloting Towards The Cloud Or On Standby?

cloud erpIt seems that most companies want to do something related to cloud deployment these days. With analysts quoting expected revenues higher every day and the desire of businesses of all sizes to cut fixed costs, it is no wonder we are watching the cloud in the sky with rose-colored sunglasses. It is key to note that this transformation is not an easy one – for partners or vendors. It requires executive-level commitment to transform and accept that this new cloud reality is, well, cloudy.

One thing seems to be consistent though: these unchartered skies require bold pilots, supported by an army of wingmen, or more specifically a partner like Navigator, who has the right skills and gumption to make it happen.  For the customer, It’s a full commitment … one that has to start with all levels of the organization recognizing the risks today and benefits of the future. Change is not easy and requires organizations that are willing to commit to it wholeheartedly. If they don’t, they are likely to not be here in the future. Cloud is here to stay and hopefully you and your company are as well.

So where do you start? And what do you need to consider on the cloud journey?

Organizations that have been successful in the transformation seem to have some key best practices they follow. They are the true Red Barons – their fearlessness allows flight. While bravery is no blueprint for success, some suggested flight plans they took may help you embrace similar successful company attributes in your own organization.

  1. Commitment to the cloud is not optional. This is not about simply saying “we are a cloud company.” Being a true cloud company requires that every member of the team be willing to be the pilot, co-pilot, and spokesperson for your cloud strategy if and when needed. If you are part of a company embarking on a cloud strategy, do you understand the benefits of the cloud and how it will fasten and secure your company for the future? Is everything you do aligned to becoming a cloud company?  For example, Navigator, SAP's #1 Global Partner for Cloud Solutions, moved all of its operations to the cloud so to better align itself with the rapidly growing cloud market.  Grant Fraser, CEO of Navigator, had this to say. “Moving to the cloud is a transformation. It’s certainly not something you can just hire a sales team, and say, ‘It’s on cloud’. By moving to the cloud, we had to rethink our compensation model for our sales and service people. We had to rethink our marketing approach. We had to rethink our sales approach. We had to rethink our delivery approach. We also had to worry about cash. Basically, we had to transform our company to be cloud, because in cloud it has to be that much quicker, more efficient, and it’s all cloud speed, and that’s quite a transformation from being just on premise.”
  1. Aviate, navigate, and communicate. No part of your organization will remain untouched. Cloud is not a sales, marketing or services transformation. It is an end-to-end change in the way you do business today. This means that sales, marketing and services need to work closer together and fly in formation to provide holistic solutions to customers. Gone are the days with operational silos when a product was marketed, software was sold, services implemented, and support follows when a problem arose. With cloud, your customer can cancel the contract easier, and partner/service teams might not be able turn profit until many months after contract signing. Support is ongoing. Marketing has to be able to demo more often and propel more demand to increase reoccurring revenue. Plan your flight formation together. If you are not flying together and the landing gear is not engaged, you risk all going down.
  1. Perform a flight check. Set and manage your cloud targets. Most pilots do not get in a plane without performing a safety check with a focus on fuel levels. Without fuel, pilots become pedestrians – and a flight plan is crucial.  However, because cloud revenue numbers seem so enticing, and it is what the future holds for software and service, I often hear of partners and vendors charging forward without a plan. It is key to have a plan – you safety check often and refer to later if you need to change course of action. Basic questions you will need to answer include sales and solutions goals. For example, is the goal to phase out your on-premise business in favor of a cloud one? If so, do your employees and flight staff have the skills to do this? Your sales organization will have very different compensation and targets. Make sure that they are on board as everyone needs to be with their new cloud reality.
  1. Short-term sacrifice may be needed. This is especially true for those companies coming from a traditionally on-premise software delivery model. Many born in the cloud companies are not yet making money in the cloud. Those who are entering into the cloud from an on-premise software delivery are often trying to figure out how to rebuild the plane – fully-loaded, no life vests without landing it. This is not an easy task. Everyone seems to have a different solution depending on their appetite for risk.   Separate funding for cloud will need to be carved out and that may mean making some difficult choices – perhaps even landing the plane for a while. Forget about thrust and drag, lift and gravity; an airplane flies because of money and investment.
  1. Different skills required to take flight.  Sales has to be able to sell value, not products. The focus has to shift to many smaller deals instead of one (or few) big ones. Marketing needs to be a key part of the organization, delivering lead volume to sales consistently while focusing on customer retention and acquisition. The key to the sale is now the Line of Business owner and success in the cloud will mean making sure you are speaking to them in their language, and effectively articulating what they care about. If these employees do not exist today in your organization, you may have some difficult hiring decisions to get your workforce ready to fly the plane – and safely.

Is your business ready?  Navigator is standing by to help your business successfully navigate (no pun intended) this strategic evolution.  Further, we hold FREE, live demos of SAP every Friday beginning at 11:00 AM EST.  Click here to learn more and register for the next demo.

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