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By James Isaacs, president of Cyara.

Throughout the pandemic, many enterprises have migrated IT systems to the cloud as part of their digital transformation efforts to adapt to remote operations, increase flexibility, and scale more effectively. However, a new survey of business executives and IT leaders worldwide revealed that digital transformation efforts such as cloud migration are typically behind schedule by four to five months. Often, this is due to enterprises failing to identify executive responsibility clearly for overseeing these digital initiatives. 

IT and business leaders also disagreed on the level of success achieved by digital transformation programs – 90% of business leaders outside of IT view initiatives as successful, while only 35% of managers do. So, in order to drive the most impact with the resources available, which cloud initiatives provide the highest return on investment (ROI)

The answer to this is critical for enterprise leaders trying to strategically prioritize to drive the best outcomes and provide their end-customers with the high-quality digital experiences that are demanded today. 

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Forrester states that improving customer experience (CX) by just one point can drive up to $1 billion in revenue. Considering this potential level of impact, organizations must think critically as they plan their digital initiatives for 2022. Business leaders must think ahead and map out strategies to maximize the ROI of cloud solutions to achieve their digital transformation goals. 

Below are four best practices for achieving maximum ROI for migrating operations to the cloud. 

1. Select a clear leader for digital transformation and cloud migration

The responsibility of leading digital transformation efforts typically falls upon several roles within an organization. As a result, many companies lack clear swim lanes of ownership for digital transformation. In the survey, 37% of respondents identified the CTO or CIO, 28% pointed to an IT leader, 23% said the CEO, and 10% specified other C-suite leadership members. 

Therefore, it’s important that organizations identify one executive to be responsible for driving digital transformation initiatives and coordinating with the rest of the teams to make sure the different pieces are all moving forward accordingly. This leader should have a digital transformation task force to support them in these initiatives and keep the rest of the organization on track, so it doesn’t fall to the wayside in the face of competing priorities. 

Using this approach during cloud migration, accountability is clear and digital transformation remains a consistent priority despite external circumstances, which will significantly benefit the company in the long term. 

2. Ensure your organization has sufficient resources for cloud migration at scale 

While there are plenty of compelling benefits for transitioning to the cloud, many companies are being held back due to concerns about security, cost, systems integration, management of legacy infrastructure, and leadership inertia. 

Surveying IT leaders and business executives, only 7% confirmed that their IT teams have all the resources needed to meet digital transformation goals and deadlines. This means that 93% believe their IT teams lack sufficient resources. So, not only do IT workers executing digital transformation projects feel overwhelmed and under-supported, but business leaders recognize this as well. 

It is clear that appropriate resources and budget are needed to be successful in digital transformation initiatives. To avoid delays or budget overruns in cloud transitions, it is best to conduct an in-depth audit ahead of time to ensure the organization’s budget and IT resources align with the cloud migration plan. This proactive approach will help to prevent any surprises and enhance the likelihood of success for the transformation. 

3. Prioritize investing in cloud for business operations that have the highest revenue impact 

According to a global report from Dimension Data, 81% of respondents say that moving to the cloud has improved their organization’s flexibility and 77% say it contributes to future-proofing their technology infrastructure. 

With that said, moving all operations to the cloud is no simple feat — it is a major undertaking for companies of all sizes. Plus, often there is a disconnect between cloud strategy and financial return for many enterprise companies looking to capitalize on the technology. Without a well-defined cloud strategy, enterprises can fall into common traps that prevent them from reaching their intended goals. 

To have a clearly defined strategy and maximize outcomes, enterprises must prioritize investing in cloud migration for the business operations that have the most direct impact on company revenue. This includes processes that directly interact with customers and affect sales, such as sales and customer support. For instance, moving contact centers to the cloud brings added value and enables enterprises to gather data and analytics about customers in a single system, rather than disparate systems that don’t communicate with each other. 

Systems hosted in the cloud increase the flexibility of contact centers and give CX teams rapid access to new features and capabilities. Additionally, the cloud enables contact centers to collect accurate, real-time customer data that helps the company provide better CX and enables business leaders to make better-informed decisions. In turn, this benefits the customer, increases satisfaction and drives profitability.

4. Align the expectations of your teams 

Despite reports that IT leaders and business executives value digital transformation equally, the standards used by IT leaders, managers, and executives to evaluate digital transformation success can be drastically different from one another. In fact, estimates of the success of digital transformation efforts drop as the executive’s seniority-level decreases. 

For example, out of the 98% of respondents who reported successful digital transformation, 90% of business owners viewed digital transformation initiatives as “very successful.” At the same time, only 35% of managers reported the same satisfaction. The survey revealed that in general, senior executives view these initiatives as successful and those further down in the organization do not. This data illustrates why it is so critical to ensure your teams’ digital transformation expectations are aligned. 

To ensure teams are aligned before kicking off cloud migration projects, it is important to set and agree on benchmarks for where your organization currently is in its digital transformation journey. From there, the team can determine the scale of the project and what results are realistically achievable from modernizing certain key processes. A best practice is to set both short-term and long-term goals, such as improving customer response speeds by X% with a newly updated cloud-based contact center. 

This level of alignment on how to measure the success of digital transformation initiatives will help to prevent surprises down the road. And also increase the likelihood that both business owners and managers will be satisfied with the results of the transformation. 

Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination

Even with all these best practices, migrating to the cloud is never a one-and-done initiative, but it does make it simpler and faster to make continuous updates to your systems and processes. As we begin 2022, enterprise leaders must plan accordingly and map out how to strategically maximize the ROI of cloud migrations to achieve their digital transformation goals.

To magnify the ROI of cloud migrations, business and IT leaders need to collaborate early in the planning of digital transformation projects to align on priority processes, key performance indicators (KPIs), goals, and investment strategy. Throughout the transition, business leaders must regularly connect with IT about the status of each digital transformation project. This clear line of communication provides visibility of digital transformation success across the organization and enables teams to adjust timelines and strategies to meet digital transformation goals.

James Isaacs is the president of Cyara

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