Canadian Organizations That Migrate to Cloud Primarily as a One-Time Cost Savings Activity Risk Missing Out on Competitive Advantages: Accenture 

A new global report from Accenture has identified a select group of organizations spanning several industries that treat cloud as a new operating model to continuously reinvent their businesses using innovative, multi-cloud capabilities — across public, private and edge — realize greater business value, well beyond cost savings.

Based on a survey of nearly 4,000 C-suite executives at both private- and public-sector organizations globally, including 200 Canadian executives, the report, titled “Ever-ready for Every Opportunity: How to Unleash Competitiveness on the Cloud Continuum,” explains why looking at cloud as a one-time migration to a static destination — essentially as a cheaper, more-efficient data centre — is limiting for most organizations, including those in Canada. In fact, a narrow focus on cost savings can actually put organizations at a competitive disadvantage compared to those using cloud more strategically across its many dynamic forms, including public, private and edge.

The report reveals that while Canadian organizations plan to migrate more than two-thirds of their workloads to cloud, on average, over the next three to five years, only half are using the full potential of cloud in its various forms to transform their day-to-day business operations, carry out knowledge work and modernize applications to meet business needs.

Accenture defines the organizations leading the way in cloud as “Continuum Competitors.” These organizations — about 12-15% of respondents globally — stand out by extending the experience they gained from public cloud to their private data centers and edge locations to transform daily business operations. As a result, they achieve substantial gains from their continued cloud engagement and outperform competitors. Continuum Competitors are also much better positioned to withstand future shocks, according to the research.

Continuum Competitors include organizations such as Carlsberg, for example.

Unlike organizations whose cloud efforts focus primarily on one-time migration to cloud for cost savings and efficiency, Continuum Competitors in Canada are:

  • 1.6x more likely to see outcomes such as AI-augmented knowledge work; 
  • achieving 1.3x greater cost reduction than organizations focused mainly on data migration;
  • targeting at least 1.3x better in financial and operational goals, such as increased customer value, lower operating costs, financial growth and flexibility, and scaling new innovations;
  • 3.6x more likely to use the cloud for at least two sustainability goals, such as using green energy sources, designing for lower power consumption, and using servers more efficiently to reduce energy consumption.

By studying Continuum Competitors’ use of cloud, Accenture has identified four winning cloud approaches applicable to any organization: 

  1. Know where you want the continuum to take you. An organization must first develop a strategy with a vision that clearly states the core values and future aspirations, identifies competitive vulnerabilities and classifies capabilities relative to where the company is today and its future aspirations. They must develop these strategies by taking into account the constant evolution of cloud capabilities across the continuum.
  1. Establish cloud practices to support and augment your technologies. Organizations need to couple technology adoption with practices that bring discipline and help change non-technology areas at the pace of computational improvements. Agility is the most critical mindset to being a Continuum Competitor; it infuses cloud-first apps, talent transformation, information technology experimentation and compute awareness, among other areas.  
  1. Accelerate innovation to deliver exceptional experiences. Continuum Competitors prioritize their investments in one area: experience. They use a combination of human-centered design and cloud-based technologies such as edge computing to rethink experience to push it closer to where their customers, partners and employees engage. This is done by driving the experience mindset throughout the organization, including products and services, employee experience and delivery models.
  1. Provide continuous strategic commitment. Leadership needs to establish business objectives, set appropriate risk levels and promote a culture of agility and growth. Organizations must also recognize the “all-hands” nature of the challenge: everyone across the organization needs to be informed of the cloud’s ever-improving potential and best practices.

Accenture’s “Ever-ready for Every Opportunity: How to Unleash Competitiveness on the Cloud Continuum” research arrives at a time when Canadian organizations have been forced by the pandemic to provide their customers with unique experiences and serve them in new and virtual ways. Prior global research from Accenture found that companies, including those Canada, that scaled technology innovation during COVID-19 are growing revenue approximately five times faster than lagging adopters of technology innovation.

About the Research 

In late 2020 and early 2021, Accenture surveyed nearly 4,000 C-suite executives, in both information technology (IT) and non-IT roles, across 25 countries and 16 industries. The research — which included interviews, case study research and economic modelling — focused on collecting data on adoption and scaling of technologies associated with cloud, each organization’s cloud journey, strategy, and goals, management practices around cloud, multiple measures of financial and operational performance, and the impact of cloud on innovation and sustainability outcomes.

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