Radu Crahmaliuc

Expert Interview Series: Radu Crahmaliuc of Cloud Mania on Digital Transformation

June 8, 2017

Radu Crahmaliuc, of Cloud Mania, is an independent IT&C analyst, digital transformation and cloud computing evangelist, freelancer, storyteller, events moderator and keynote speaker.

We recently asked Radu for his insight on cloud computing and digital transformation. Here’s what he shared:

Tell us about your professional background. How did you become a Cloud Computing evangelist?

I think knowledge, science and technology have always been the key drivers in my evolution. Having an engineering background in the natural sciences field, I had the chance to get close to the world of computers working on my doctoral thesis. This was the first input that conducted me to the IT industry– practically my second professional life.

The journey into the IT universe was amazing by the cumulative experiences: from journalism to communication and corporate PR, from marketing to product management and pre-sales, from business development to sales and channel management, from local subsidiaries business management to start-up development and new market penetration.

The passion for cloud was not my first “techno love”. Ten years ago I was struggling to show decision makers the benefits of server and application virtualization. It was hard to penetrate a market powered by physical servers and volume workstations. So I was in the cloud universe even from the beginning trying to show people the extraordinary benefits of cloud and to help them to change their user’s behavior.

What IT and Cloud trends and topics are you focusing on these days? What’s catching your attention in the Digital Transformation space?

From the very beginning, I thought the disruptive power of new technologies that came as successive waves on the same high current of cloud would primarily influence business processes. Spiral of techno-evolution is natural. Business habits and people’s mentalities need to be changed. The experience gained in cloud promotion and sales campaigns, as well as the multiple interactions with the cloud users, help me in well positioning of digital adoption issues.

What is critical in an enterprise digital transformation now is the enterprise’s transformation. A transformation process is not a simple IT project. Excepting IT guys, many other peoples and LOB are involved here. Even the CIO’s role is transforming, from a technical supervisor into a benefits broker to the others lines of business. This is the reason I’m focusing on the digital transformation processes. To facilitate the better understanding of the new CIO/s role and to explain to business people how to better use digital tools.

How would you define Digital Transformation? Why should businesses spend time investing in a Digital Transformation strategy?

Well, is not easy … We can take a simple definition like: “Digital transformation is the machine conducted evolution process where any business needs to invest in digital technologies in order to become more performant”. This is the concept’s backbone, but this is not enough. From a business perspective, it’s essential to have a digital transformation vision conducting to digital adoption strategy.

We can define digital transformation as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, coming with fundamental changes in the business operation patterns. Beyond that, it’s a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, to experiment often and to assume the risk of any failure.

Digital transformation is then an essential process for business strategy. The disruption is coming from the radical change between long-standing business processes that companies built and the fragility of new practices that are still being defined.

What are the most common misconceptions businesses have about Digital Transformation and transforming effectively?

Business decision makers should understand there is not a simple process for awarding procurement and implementation like in any IT project. It is a natural business selection. A Digital Transformation strategy is not simply a budgetary balance relaxation by migrating infrastructure expenditure to OpEx; Is not an easy BYOD project; Is not a simple alignment with new standards; Is not cloud adoption just to have a less expensive “fashionable” solution; Is not a social media campaign to raise awareness of the ecosystem of partners and customers.

Digital Transformation is primarily a comprehensive business process. It is a natural selection. Either adopt digital technologies or disappear. It is a radical change of old processes and business habits. It is a cultural change acceleration of digital skills that have become inherent in the business.

Why should businesses consider migrating to the cloud if they haven’t done so already?

Recent market research show that only 25 to 35 percent of big and medium-sized organizations have not started a cloud adoption process yet. And from these, at least 10 percent have a plan to do something in order to keep business effectiveness. Moving apps and services to the cloud is not a simple one-step process. First of all, business should clearly understand if the organization really needs cloud adoption. Many business needs for powerful processing, system scalability, costs reduction and availability could be solved with other technologies, like virtual systems – servers and applications.

Usually, we discuss some scenarios that can claim the benefits offered by cloud:

  • Increased traffic of business application;
  • Reducing operational costs, while increasing IT effectiveness;
  • Fastest application implementation and deployment;
  • Geographical business expansion with limited resources for new infrastructure;
  • More and more storage needs;
  • Territory distributed workforce needs remote access to business core application and data;
  • Better security and disaster recovery tools.

There are also a series of critical issues for which we don’t recommend a cloud migration, like: very sensitive data and specific compliance requests, proprietary technologies with no legal approval to deployment in the cloud, increased latency for some operations when using cloud applications over the Internet, or the fear in front of the unknown challenges.

What considerations should businesses make when deciding on what business/IT functions to move to the cloud? How should they go about searching for a reliable, trustworthy cloud provider?

Any cloud migration project should start with clear business considerations concerning IT roles: What applications should we migrate to the Cloud? Is the cloud infrastructure we’re considering adopting safe? Could we manage the migration process with internal IT resources? What will we do if something goes wrong? Will the budget cover all migration costs?

On the other hand, any CIO should think about key business and technical challenges:

  • Migration strategy – a project based on best practices ”How to…” guide;
  • People – IT team allocation, individual tasks, will you need more resources?
  • Budget – how realistic is it, will it cover all cloud migration expenses?
  • Security – no one wants to expose the company, partners and clients to unknown vulnerabilities.
  • Legacy systems – many cloud services don’t interoperate with old systems. A hybrid cloud infrastructure should be considered in many cases.

How to choose a cloud provider? Cloud migration is essentially a mentality mater. Choosing a cloud service provider is based on trust, both in the performance of the solution and the quality of the service, but also on the good reputation. The most important 10 elements a client must follow when choosing a cloud provider are:

  1. Staff specialization, roles and responsibilities
  2. Ability to perform an audit
  3. Problem reporting, review and resolution
  4. Clear provisions on how to ensure confidentiality
  5. Logical and physical control of information access
  6. Data protection and the availability of backup and data recovery solutions.
  7. Risk management
  8. Continuity of operations and resource management
  9. Official certificates and credentials
  10. Insurance systems and compensation.

What IT functions do businesses need to rethink or reimagine as they’re migrating to the Cloud? How does the cloud transform the way IT does its job?

Adoption of various cloud strategies causes a paradigm shift that impacts both business and IT functions. In order to evolve into the role of cloud enabler, a business must carefully consider the value IT units bring in:

  • Cloud adoption:
  • Procurement, evaluation and selection support
  • Integration with campus services
  • Migration of existing on-premises systems
  • Project and product management
  • Security, compliance and risk management.

Now, more than ever, IT units must clearly understand the evolving needs of all lines of business (LoB) and be prepared to help them assess the full range of possible solutions.

Relating to the IT’s changing role, I always like to say: “IT units are always in the front line of the technology disrupting waves”.  Cloud changes everything, and never more so than the role of the CIO. In the new digital era, CIOs have to keep the delicate balance between crafting technology strategy and driving business innovation while overseeing routine IT functional tasks such as cost control, vendor negotiation, crisis management and operational improvements.

The good news is after a cautious orientation period, CIOs are ready now to embrace the business transformation and to keep peace with their evolution from order taker and implementer to vision strategist and business enabler. In practice, this means spending more time with LOB managers and with C-level executives, and less time overseeing operational matters. Cloud also brings standardization of processes and services, which open the gates for automation. Standards and automation give more time for CIO’s to better address their new digital role by converting Cloud services into strategic assets.

How has changing customer expectations driven the way businesses manage and structure their IT functions? What impact do you expect consumers to have on the future of IT?

Digital transformation is the result of increasing customer demands and IT consumerization. The new digital economy is customer-oriented. In the full era of information, it is the customer who became the first digital native. It is natural, therefore, that products and services to become digital.

A clear case is a digital transformation in the manufacturing industry. Here, the digital revolution has a name: Industry 4.0. Digital manufacturing introduced the unique digital product model in whole workflow cycle, from concept, engineering, design, prototyping, production to marketing, sales and CRM. Modern manufacturers no longer sell products. They are now providers of lifecycle services that amplify the value of the product. Read the “Michelin Tires-as-a-Services” story that is one of the most relevant.

The impact of customers on the future development of IT will be essential. Thanks to digital processes, any CIO can now calibrate its IT infrastructure development strategy according to the ever-diversified and more demanding customer needs. In order to stay on the market, major vendors will need to calibrate their product and services strategy on the guidance provided by analyzing, cognitive and predictive tools running Big Data in the Cloud.

What will be after digital economy? Hard to anticipate. Many analysts predict a convergence era where companies will deliver customized digital customer support, capitalizing on large volumes of data and investing in contextual understanding and automated “next-best-action” solutions. New customer-centric trends based on digital transformation and convergence will continue to remodel our industries, our society and our current lives.

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