It's Time to Challenge Beliefs and Fears When It Comes to IT Transformation

It's Time to Challenge Beliefs and Fears When It Comes to IT Transformation

By Farrell Hough, GM and VP, Product Operations at ServiceNow  |  August 10, 2017

It goes without saying that the task of going cloud-first at the enterprise level can be daunting. After all, you’re looking at a wholesale shift in the very essence of your computing fabric. But, while it sounds scary, we found that it may not be a hard as you think.

We recently polled attendees at the Pink Elephant 17 conference and asked them a variety of questions pertaining to the IT shift to cloud-first.  We found some interesting results.

When it comes to transitioning your enterprise to a cloud-first footing, inertia—not cost, difficulty, security, or control—is your greatest enemy.

We divided responses into two groups: First-Movers and Laggards. First-Movers are those who’ve started the move to cloud-first early and are at least 25 percent through the transition. Laggards are those who have not yet begun the move to cloud-first, or have started but have completed less than 25 percent of the transition.

What we found provides a reason to be optimistic about making this shift: Taking Your Enterprise to the Cloud Is Not as Hard as Anticipated

While any major IT implementation is not without challenges, it turns out that once an organization has gotten well underway (or finished) making the cloud-first shift, their perception of the difficulty of the shift changes for the better.


• 39 percent of Laggards predict the shift will take 4 or more years

• 83 percent of First-Movers predict that the shift won’t take that long


• Laggards are 2x more likely to say the shift to cloud is extremely difficult

• First-Movers, however, are 50 percent less likely to characterize it that way


• 59 percent of Laggards fear the shift will be “extremely” expensive

• 61 percent of First-Movers say it is not extremely expensive


• Most Laggards see many potential hazards in the shift: shortages of necessary IT skillsets, security of data, and IT ultimately losing control of projects

• Only 3 out of 10 of First-Movers still believe these will be hazards

It seems the initial fears moving to the cloud are not warranted. However, there is a big thing that stands in the way…

We Have Seen the Enemy, and It Is Inertia

For most, it seems the dread of the unknown is worse than the actual transition to cloud-first footing. When asked what is the biggest challenge they face when making this shift to the cloud, both groups said inertia as their top response (59 percent and 57 precent, respectively). The fear of change may be preventing or delaying many enterprises and IT leaders from beginning the process.

If we can agree that cloud-first is on its way to becoming the industry standard, then it follows that anything that prevents or slows your enterprise transition to the cloud will most likely handicap the enterprise in the long run. And maybe the short run, too.

When you contemplate transforming the very essence of an enterprise’s IT infrastructure, it should trigger your survival instinct. Get it wrong, and everything comes crashing down. That’s why many freeze up at the thought of it.

The following are some strategies they should consider to alleviate fears and overcome the inertia that often gums the machinery of transformation:

1. Create Curiosity

It sounds simple. But IT leaders who counter the emotional fear response with curiosity find their focus rapidly shifting to “What is possible?” as opposed to “What can go wrong?”

The spirit of exploration motivates. Sure, there can be pitfalls and pain points. But think of the big picture. What will a cloud-first enterprise look like? What role will you forge for IT in this cloud-first world? It’s a chance, in fact, to remake the dynamic between the C-suite and IT leadership. Aren’t you curious to see how you can create this landscape and exert your influence in making it an improvement for you?

2. Commitment to the Cloud Cause

It sounds strange to suggest, but practice being committed to disruption. The world of tech is all about disruption. Interrupting the status quo. Moving with agility to ride the quickly shifting currents.

As you see the cloud-first movement gaining momentum, it requires your commitment to yourself, your organization, and your enterprise to disrupt the status quo and take the first step in the journey to going cloud-first.

3. Create Community for Change

A leader bears the ultimate responsibility for decisions. However, a wise leader empowers talented team members to share the burden of the task and innovate solutions to sticky problems.

You can never do it on your own. And you don’t have to. Inertia melts before the will and momentum of a tight-knit team focused on the same goal.

Community is also about the communication it takes to coordinate with other groups in the enterprise and get them on the same page. If your own IT team works fluidly toward the same goal, imagine how it will be once you have the support and effort of an entire enterprise, top to bottom.

The anticipation of change is typically worse than the actual process of change. There will be challenges. But the rewards of leading your company into the cloud are greater. 

There's no straight line along this path. It's okay to tack back and forth. What matters is the general direction you're going. You don't have to create a perfect plan or understand all the outcomes or weigh every single risk in advance. The most important thing is to take those first steps in the right direction; you will gain speed or pick up velocity along the way.

The biggest threat of going cloud-first seems to be not doing it. 

Edited by Erik Linask