This article is contributed by Ed Lenta, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
In recent years, many countries in Asia, including Malaysia, have started national initiatives to aspire digital transformation and drive economic growth. Through Malaysia’s Industry4WRD, International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the digital economy will play a vital role in contributing to at least 20% of the country’s GDP by 2021[i], with businesses in the country turning to cloud computing in the era of digital disruption.
Every organisation has a different reason for starting its cloud transformation journey. Some want to consolidate their data assets. Others want to respond faster to the changing needs of their customers. And some are seeking a platform that will help them launch new ventures, and explore local, and global market opportunities.
Since 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has helped thousands of organisations of all sizes across Asia Pacific launch their journeys into the cloud. And over that time one of the things I’ve discovered, is that while each transformation is unique in its own way, the most successful all have four distinctive traits in common.
1. They have visionary leadership
Visionary leadership plays an important role in a successful cloud strategy.
Visionary leaders are constantly reinventing their customer experience because if they don’t, someone else will and they risk being disrupted. These leaders inspire teams by painting a picture of what the future state of their organisation will look like, and the benefits from it. By establishing a clear sense of the organisation’s purpose, and effectively communicating how the organisation’s cloud strategy will fulfil that purpose, the leadership team can align employees throughout the company, to a common goal.
2. They are innovators at heart
Time and time again, we see that the most successful cloud transformation leaders are innovators. They take the building blocks offered by cloud providers and assemble them in ways that even we can’t anticipate, creating new platforms, products, and services that enhance their operations and provide them with launching pads for new business strategies.
These companies would also invest in their own organisational capabilities by hiring and training the skilled people they need to move them forward. They know that by building and retaining this knowledge within their organisation, they are creating an evolving resource that will help them maintain their competitive edge well into the future.
3. They think big, but start small
Cloud transformation leaders know the world is changing, and they are determined to change with it. So they just get started. They learn through the process of doing, and adapt accordingly when their increasing knowledge and experience tells them this is necessary. In this way they become highly adaptable not just in response to changing market conditions, but also to what their newfound insights tell them.
The only way to truly learn how to execute a successful cloud transformation programme is to start one.
4. They excite and enable everyone they can
The most successful cloud transformation leaders excite staff about the future state of the company and what the transformation will make possible, while also giving them the skills to make the most of that future state.
Every part of an organisation will be impacted by a cloud transformation, including product development, marketing, finance, and legal team. Hence, informing and including employees from across the organisation ensures they can get the greatest benefit from the changes as they happen, and gives the project a greater chance of success. The benefits they receive are directly connected to how quickly and deeply leaders and teams begin thinking about how to empower their staff with the opportunity and tools they need to innovate for their customers.
Bringing it all together
One of the best examples of these four traits in action, is Malaysia’s Supahands, a workforce crowdsourcing platform that recruits remote workers skilled in moderating user-generated content and training machine-learning applications. Created in 2014 as a start-up venture with vision of becoming a large-scale enterprise that could maintain a high level of uptime, it utilized AWS’s cloud computing solutions to maintain and scale in size. Leveraging on the agile nature of cloud technology, the company grew from 120 to over 2,000 remote agents from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in 2017.
Organisations will exhibit these four attributes in different ways, but experience has shown that any successful transformation relies to some extent on all four.
Leadership sets the vision and inspires and directs the organisation to get to its future state by building it themselves. They trust in their purpose and vision and then work to ensure that all of their people understand that vision, make it happen, and maximise its value as it is delivered.
[i] IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2019 Predictions – Malaysia Implications: https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=AP44681819