Cloud technology can help you access markets, improve the customer journey, streamline operations, and achieve many other business outcomes. But you don’t punch a button labeled “cloud” and receive a solution. All cloud solutions are custom made and must be built with your particular business needs in mind. The best solutions are multidimensional and creative, just like your business.
The Lego Effect
Cloud solutions are like Lego sets. You can combine many different elements that connect to other elements to build whatever it is you need. Each type of Lego is like a service or capability used to create a solution. When my son wants to build a firetruck or plane with his Lego set, he looks at all the pieces he can use and combine to create exactly what he envisions. Cloud solutions are the same way because the cloud is flexible in what elements you can put together.
But companies don’t need all of the pieces. They need specific solutions that solve the specific problems their firms face.
Even within an industry, cloud solutions must be customized. For example, a mortgage banker doesn’t have the same problems as an investment banker, so the solution must be shaped into something that addresses issues specific to the mortgage banker. It’s essential to understand not only the industry but the sub-industry and the company’s motivational model, as well as the technology that’s currently used and who is using it.
A cloud solution can then be built to address the needs the company has regularly. There is no value in throwing a hodge-podge of cloud capabilities at a company when it only needs a specific set. You wouldn’t build a plane if what you really needed was a firetruck. The great thing about the cloud is that there are multiple pieces that can connect with each other to build the solutions model required to address your company’s specific needs, whatever they may be.
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Industry and Situational Fluency
I strive to understand details and nuances in an industry and in a business and how those situations relate to specific problems or pain points. You can’t just say, “We need to improve operational efficiency. Hook us up to the cloud.”
I look at fluency in two ways:
1. Industry fluency
When creating a cloud solution, I read articles from the thought leaders within that particular industry and sub-industry. I come to understand the different situations they face. Problems can range from market health to regulatory requirements and everything in between. Having that deep understanding of the industry is very important because I can then understand the environment an individual business operates within.
2. Company-specific situational fluency
To learn about a specific company’s needs, I always start with the people doing the everyday work. If you think about it, companies don’t have problems – people do.
I ask precise questions and become very curious. I talk to employees that are on the ground, on the front lines. People who have done the work or have been driving solutions are the best subject matter experts because they will understand a cloud solution’s net impact. I like to think of this as the “Walk A Mile” approach – I walk a mile in employees’ shoes to see what it feels like to deal with the problems they face.
I also talk to thought leaders within the organization and ask questions about their vision, their company goals, and the pain points as seen from their levels. For example, most data centers are over capacity, so companies buy more hardware that increases costs. Using the cloud, these companies can scale down.
Industry and situational fluency are not abstract. I obtain a deep understanding of where I can make individuals more effective and therefore make the company more effective. After all, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. A targeted cloud solution based on industrial and situational fluency makes the company more competitive and profitable.
Adjacent Capabilities in the Cloud
I look for adjacent capabilities that apply to specific company functions and malfunctions. Using “adjacent capabilities” means integrating current capabilities with other functions that enhance what the company can do.
For example, I can connect the capabilities in Salesforce to the capabilities in Azure, the capabilities in Azure to those in Microsoft 365, or the capabilities in Workday to those in Azure. And I can be highly flexible and agile in using these capabilities because they can all integrate, often with no or low code. These adjacent capabilities help me drive an impact much faster.
If I don’t understand the architecture of adjacent capabilities, it’s going to be hard for me to drive a solution that’s as effective as it could be.
A Two-in-One Solution
Cloud solutions come from pushing a capability here, diminishing one there, and shaping the entire thing into a whole that makes sense.
Kids with their Lego sets make decisions about what types of bricks to use to build what they want. Similarly, in business, we can tie all the flexibility and creativity the cloud offers to specific outcomes that will help companies prosper. So, there are two concepts in one that make for better outcomes and more success for any company working with the cloud: Flexibility that results in useful, specialized solutions.