Forecast: Cloudy with Sunshine – Perspectives on Transitioning to the Cloud
As an insurance executive, I find myself lately having to decipher two interrelated concepts. The first, a frequently discussed one, is digital transformation, accompanied by marketing terms such as customer-centric approach, personalization, customer experience, etc. The second concept is the IT infrastructure on which the transformation from legacy to cloud systems will be implemented. The two concepts depend on each other, and the possibilities and permutations are endless. Therefore, I would like to suggest a broader perspective that may help in the decision-making and deciphering process.
We tend to view the above as two discreet domains: marketing and tech. Both have been with us seemingly forever, and for every change a company implements, each will provide benefits and challenges to that change. I have been weighing these for quite some time now, and I realized that in order to break the pros and cons cycle, a broader, non-marketing or IT perspective needs to be considered. Corporate cultural needs to be part of the equation.
Digital transformation can start with transitioning from legacy to a cloud system. More broadly, this also means transitioning from a legacy corporate culture to a new one that is aligned with the new realities.
With this in mind, the question becomes how relevant are we as an organization to our customers, our employees, and our partners? Reflecting on cloud platform implementation from a corporate cultural mindset does put things in a new perspective.
We all know that change is difficult, and it always involves uncertainty. However, if your organization ceases to be relevant it will cease to exist.
Cloud Platform as a Mirror of Corporate Culture.
As part of my IT infrastructure deciphering process, I came across multiple cloud platform terms, the most common of which I have listed below. Using them as a starting point to consider how each can reflect on an organization’s culture — and how to cultivate it — has helped me a lot.
In a cloud-first approach the entire IT system is developed on the cloud from the start. This infrastructure provides developers with more tools to enable faster adaptability to present and future changes. With Insurtech speeding its way to customer-centricity and omni-channel communications, a cloud-first approach serves as the foundation for a full digital transition. It provides scalability, reduces costs, and enables constant seamless development without having to maintain hardware. A cloud-first approach supports an innovative corporate culture. A culture at the forefront of technology.
A cloud-native is the second phase and is an approach which is optimized for organizations that are constantly present and offering services online. Their services include features that boost customer engagement. The cloud-native approach also provides scalability and seamless integration via APIs with third-party services such as credit card verification, customer information retrieval and verification and chatbots. Business continuity is assured 24/7.
Cloud-native systems built around “microservices” which basically break the larger parts into small independent units, each of which has very little impact on the overall system, and they enable scalability, seamless integration, and the ability to adapt to any systemic change.
If customer-centricity is part of your corporate agenda, then a cloud-native infrastructure will align these goals with both your employees and your customers.
Cloud-enabled refers to applications that are initially developed off-cloud and then migrated to the cloud. For that reason, they initially operate optimally on traditional IT infrastructures. Migrating to the cloud will require some adjustment, but they will not include the underlying architecture. As a result, the application will not be able to fully harness the power of the cloud, its scalability, and resilience. Compared with cloud-native, cloud-enabled will require operating from a narrower approach to customer service and centricity.
Cloud-ready is where the organization’s applications and services are deployed in the cloud, but also require physical on-site infrastructure. This is often the case when an organization “patches” a specific need by allocating its available servers for it. This patch will have some of its features on the cloud, but will also require on-site maintenance, upgrades, floor space, on-site data storage and backup. The resources required for on-site data storage and backups are not insignificant. We’re used to living in a hybrid world where we can have the best of both worlds, but in this case, it’s more like a compromise, if occasionally a worthwhile one.
There is no question that when it comes to Cloud vs. Legacy technology, cloud is the new standard for Insurtech solutions. As it happens, migrating from one cloud to another is not as simple as one might hope. A cloud-agnostic solution makes migrating from cloud A to cloud B easier and with fewer complications. However, cloud migration is not a seamless process and has its costs. The reason is that a cloud service provider may have proprietary technology that is not be compatible with other clouds.
There are a few more cloud-related terms, but the main ones have been discussed here. Each one involves a world of decision-making. I hope that by providing a broader non-technical picture of how each option reflects on your team, your decision-making process has been made a little easier.