• Christian Rast, Leadership |

When COVID-19 hit, organizations across the globe had to spring into action and fast-track their digital transformation programs.

The ability to move mission-critical applications and services to the cloud – often overnight – proved to be a game changer. And for many organizations it made the difference between future and failure.

It doesn’t surprise me that the shift to the cloud is set to continue in the coming years. According to our latest KPMG CEO Outlook, 40 percent of global CEOs are looking to invest in a secure and resilient cloud-based technology infrastructure over the next 3 years. This is a sizable group of executives, but what does surprise me is that it isn’t more of a priority.

I believe there are several reasons: Some organizations assume they can keep modernizing their data centers in perpetuity. Others have more trust in their internal security systems than those of external providers. I’ve also heard concerns around the cost of cloud and the potential legal and regulatory considerations.

In my view, transitioning to the cloud is an imperative if you want to stay ahead of the competition and be ready for where your business should be in the next 5 years. But how do you best go about it?

1. Find the right partner

The CEO Outlook shows that half (50 percent) of CEOs intend to team up with a third-party cloud technology partner in the next 3 years to achieve their growth objectives. Additionally, 70 percent of CEOs say that new partnerships will be critical to continuing the pace of digital transformation. But when selecting a partner for cloud transformation, it’s important to find a good strategic fit — someone with the right capabilities and the track record to prove it.

A partner should have a large global network of experienced and scalable resources and skills to call upon, including strong connections with leading cloud providers. They should have a deep understanding of the business, and they should act as an integrator who manages the transformation program from start to finish. This includes the orchestration of all communication and delivery streams. The proof, of course, is in the pudding, so relevant references are a must.

Equally important is a realistic perspective on investments, risk and timelines to build a viable business case, which I’ll get to next.

2. Build the business case

When it comes to developing a business case for cloud, organizations often focus on costs — but that approach ignores several key performance indicators that bring measurable value to the business. These include the impact of innovation, new revenue streams, speed of deployment, flexible capacity management, as well as talent attraction and retention.

It’s also important to factor in the hidden cost of security — or rather the lack thereof — which can have an impact on the trustworthiness of the business and influence customer experience and loyalty in the long term.

As many companies adapt to disruption, they often overlook operational resilience. Increased efficiency certainly helps reduce costs, but overall resilience should be considered appropriately, such as the ability to bounce back from system downtime, data corruption or security breaches.

3. Prepare your organization

And finally, it takes leadership support and broad cultural change for any technology transformation program to be successful. I’ve identified four areas of importance: structure, culture, skills, and measurement.

  • Structure: Your organization’s structure should support your transformation goals by allowing for greater collaboration and agility. It’s all about finding new ways of working that encourage thinking before doing and evolving your target operating model to allow for an organized yet flexible workforce.  

  • Culture: Embrace the mind-set to “automate everything.” If you do something manually more than once, your goal should be to automate the task for improved consistency, greater operational stability and more confidence in transitioning digital assets to the cloud.

  • Skills: Qualified people are key to successful digital transformation, and I suggest investing in upskilling and future-proofing your organization’s workforce. We at KPMG, for example, have launched our very own cloud university to build the hot skills we need.

  • Measurement: It’s important to develop metrics that reflect true value to the business. Rather than checking boxes on your ‘steps accomplished’ list, focus on indicators that demonstrate your improved resilience and stronger growth, for example faster resolution of client issues or shortened innovation cycles.

Sharing our own cloud journey to lead the way for others

At KPMG, we’re successfully managing our own cloud transformation — all in a highly regulated environment — and are now fully benefiting from the cloud. Just recently, we’ve closed the last of our global data centers. This has resulted in improved security, operational cost savings and put us in a better position to rapidly develop and deploy new cloud-native applications.

Organizations can’t afford to turn their back on the cloud, so we’re excited to continue our journey — and help lead the way for others, as well.

Throughout this website, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity.