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After years of chatter and buzz, cloud is in the mainstream. According to IDC’s Worldwide Whole Cloud Forecast, 2017–2021, 90 percent of enterprises will be using multi-cloud solutions and platforms by 2020. NASCIO’s 2018 State CIO Survey findings show that state government is no exception: More than three-quarters of CIOs reported that they have a cloud migration strategy in place or in development. In other words, State CIOs are no longer asking IF they will move to cloud. It’s now a matter of when—and how.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the journey to cloud isn’t just about increasing technical agility or cost effectiveness. It’s also about positioning government to deliver new and innovative services more quickly and in a manner that meets digital citizens’ expectations for an excellent customer experience. Getting there is, indeed, a journey. Though not impossible or arduously long, the journey requires every state CIO to take a strategic approach and act with perseverance—celebrating wins and milestones along the way.

Think through strategy

A strategic approach to cloud starts with some critical questions. Among them: What are the desired business outcomes for your state or agency? What is your deployment model? Do you have the right talent? Do you have proper cloud policies? Who is the best service provider for your enterprise? Strategic consideration of these critical questions will help in designing an updated operating model that spans service creation and delivery; execution and fulfilment; automation and governance of processes; and functional decomposition of IT capabilities.

Without an updated operating model, states will be unable to fully embrace leading-edge technologies and approaches—from robotic process automation (RPA) and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) to orchestration, workflow, cloud optimization tools and DevOps. With a new operating model in place, state CIOs can ensure that IT operates efficiently across multi-cloud environments, cloud services and new technologies. These innovations are key to driving the next level of transformation of government services and operations.

Work through reality

In developing and executing cloud strategies, state CIOs will inevitably face the inertia of government operations. These are the longstanding systems, policies and processes that can make it challenging to adopt New IT, including cloud.

A prime example: funding and financing for cloud. After all, cloud uses few, if any, government-owned assets. Without the acquisition of capital assets, states can’t rely on traditional public-sector capital financing vehicles, such as tax-exempt bonds, notes and certificates of participation. It’s a topic some of my colleagues explore in greater detail in Funding the Government Journey to Cloud.

As you explore new technologies, invest in navigating and transforming all of the processes essential to new ways of running IT. Forgetting to do this “homework” on the internal operations of government can slow or even stall your journey to cloud. A collaborative, design-thinking process can help in crafting a well-thought-out, long-term cloud vision. Engaging major stakeholders and key decision makers from the beginning should lead to consensus on the strategy and drive tangible metrics to desired outcomes.

Across the board, collaboration will be key to a successful journey to cloud. As CIOs transform from provider of services to broker of services, focus on building strong alliances and relationships with key stakeholders at the governor’s office, state agencies and the legislature. It can be hard to change old ways. It’s far easier when you build a groundswell of adoption support and demonstrate measurable progress and value within both the business and IT communities of government.

Well-considered strategy, unwavering tenacity and champions who share your commitment to New IT—these are the keys to advancing your state’s journey to cloud. In my next post, I’ll dive deeper on how to articulate the value of your state’s journey to cloud.

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