The Cloud and Digital Transformation, do you know the diffence?

By Diederik Wyffels

“The Cloud”, “Cloud adoption”, “Roadmap to the Cloud” …  All these terms are referring to a technology transformation.  This transformation is aiming to do the same in a more efficient way.  Behind this change you will find a couple of key motivators.

Cost savings is one of them.  Backup in the cloud is one example.  In this scenario, nothing really changes, the computing power is located somewhere else and somebody else is managing it.  The motivation is to achieve the same at a lower cost.

Security is another driver.  While with early cloud implementations there was often a concern about security, things have evolved to a completely opposite sentiment.  Most companies find it increasingly challenging to attain a secure IT environment without embracing cloud technology.

Reliability and system health are other reasons for cloud adoption.  Of course an application that runs unreliable in your own datacenter will work the same way in another datacentre in case you just apply the “lift and shift” method.  Often with some small changes you can significantly improve it.  Same is true for replacing on-premise workloads by the online SaaS version (think MS Exchange, MS Sharepoint,…).

Finally the cloud offers possibilities to be much more agile.  For example, the automated “scalability/elasticity” that is required to deal with fluctuating workloads is available by design in cloud environments.   Or think of the deployment time of applications which can be dramatically reduced in a cloud environment.

Next question, what about your business environment?  In today’s economy, innovation and speed are a must for enterprises to stay competitive.  We all know examples like Netflix, Uber and AirBnB, that are changing the market dramatically.  A business transformation is all about growth.  Or new business ideas.  Transforming what you do to deal with the different expectations from your customers.  Frankly, it’s a requirement to survive in the long run.

Where the cloud meets business transformation, we enter the space of Digital Transformation.  Cloud technology makes business scenarios possible at a low cost that were impossible 10 years ago.  Impossible or not affordable.  This triggers the question: could you go on a cloud journey without a business transformation? The answer is yes.  Nothing stops your from moving existing things in the cloud.  The question is whether if that is enough?  If your competition is more innovative, you could become irrelevant pretty fast.  It’s not just happening on large-scale well-known cases.  It’s also happening on a much smaller scale.  What about the opposite question : can you do a business transformation without a cloud adoption?  In theory the answer is yes.  Cloud technology is, in the end, just technology.  But in reality, it is different.  The technology you would need to support this transformation would often be overly expensive.  Or even not available in a traditional on-premise environment.

The Cloud and Digital Transformation, is that one and the same thing? In essence Cloud Technology transformation, Business Transformation and Digital Transformation are inextricably linked.  You can see them as inseperable.  In real life it’s one major transformation.  So the key question is not what the difference is. The question is a different one: can your business survive without a Digital Transformation ?