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Why self-sufficiency is so valuable to your cloud journey (just ask Deutsche Bank)

February 15, 2023
Vasu Gupta

Head of Financial Services Professional Services, EMEA, Google Cloud

Ajay Vij

Vice President, Strategic Industries, EMEA, Google Cloud

Organizations pursue cloud for a number of reasons: digital transformation, building new capabilities, driving innovation, increasing agility, and cost efficiency.

Yet all of these goals are hard to achieve if organizations fail to focus on self-sufficiency in their cloud adoption journey. 

Cloud offers organizations newfound capabilities to control their innovation destiny, charting new paths and changing course with speed and agility they rarely knew before. This requires a certain level of commitment, from the top of the organization as well as through the ranks, ensuring leadership is set in their direction, while the end-users of technology — the data scientists, application developers, business advisors, and even the company’s customers to some degree — are equipped to make the most of their new cloud-based tools and opportunities.

In our experience working with numerous customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa across financial services and other industries, we’ve seen first hand how a self-sufficiency mindset can drive faster business value for the organization. As the saying goes: Fortune favors the bold. Take charge of your cloud destiny — as we’ve seen companies like Deutsche Bank do — and the results will follow.

Why self-sufficiency? 

Organizations who focus on self-sufficiency and enabling themselves as builders on cloud benefit in a number of ways:

  1. By defining the approach to cloud adoption early and decisively, they build knowledge and confidence across the organization that their cloud journey will fit their organizational culture and needs. They are able to engage cloud vendors, service integrators, regulators, and their own internal consumers of cloud more proactively and at the right time.
  2. They can truly adopt cloud and its services by minimizing the friction points that exist with security, controls, and pre-existing processes.
  3. They innovate faster and deliver outcomes quicker by focusing on the right areas and failing fast. 

What is self-sufficiency?

Self-sufficiency should not be misunderstood as building all the cloud capabilities in-house. Rather it is about executing and delivering the company’s strategic goals by driving a long-term transformation and creating enduring change within the organization. 

Therefore, the focus should be on mobilizing leaders and teams that can become force multipliers across the organization. They should simultaneously develop the experience to answer the “what,” “why,” and “how” for both strategic and operational decisions made possible by the cloud.

Specifically, we see the following three qualities in a self-sufficient organization:

In-house ownership drives strategy and tactics

One of the first and most important steps any organization can take is getting leadership alignment and ownership of the cloud strategy

The cloud program should be a self-sufficient, organization-wide project with a senior executive reporting to the C-level responsible for end-to-end delivery of the program over multiple years. Program leads should be equipped with the organizational support and technology required to see their work through; they must be empowered to take ownership of delivering foundational capabilities in their respective areas. 

This approach leads to the development of a cloud that ultimately will best suit the business needs and culture of the organization, and allow the tech stack to evolve and adapt as opportunities arise or needs change.

Additionally, it is important to have the technical leadership provide the overall roadmap, standards, programmatic monitoring, and governance for the cloud strategy while delegating execution to the appropriate teams within the organization. This will help drive self-sufficiency through the knowledge and experience of the respective teams while working within the guardrails set by leadership to manage risk.

A self-sufficient approach to cloud can build confidence in teams to execute quickly and effectively.

We are working directly with Deutsche Bank on their digital transformation, and from the start, leadership has made self-sufficiency a priority.

“Over the years, Deutsche Bank’s ONE cloud program has evolved from a well-defined central program to an agile and federated team coordinating hundreds of teams across the bank,” Gil Perez, the chief innovation officer at Deutsche Bank, told us recently. “An adaptive mindset, a focus on delivery and on-going communication with our management board are the underpinning of the cloud program’s longevity and success.”

Creating talent gravity and a culture of innovation

A self-sufficient cloud organization can be central to winning the competition for talent. It becomes the fulcrum for both attracting new talent who want to work on the latest tech, empowering existing talent to do more, and helping to retain experts who might be lured away by other cutting-edge projects at other organizations. 

This approach also opens the door to greater engagement with new and innovative cloud vendors, SaaS providers, and service integrators, all of whom can offer new capabilities, as well as regulators, who are looking for greater guarantees of security and digital sovereignty. It also engages the organization’s internal cloud consumers proactively, offering them relevant knowledge and added value to their work. 

“At Deutsche Bank,” Perez explains, “we’re focusing on providing our current and future employees with, one, an endless number of education and learning opportunities; two, the best technologies and tools to tackle the most challenging and impactful banking problems; and three, the platform to securely deploy financial solutions at scale.”

An accelerated technology adoption and transformation journey without a self-sufficient team and appropriate knowledge within the organization can lead to slower transformation, as stakeholders and decision makers will often lack the confidence or trust in the team to execute.

Continuously evolving the operating model

Pilots and promoters are integral to both the early- and long-term success of any cloud project. 

Successful organizations try to fail fast to validate the right operating model for cloud adoption, focusing on low-complexity, high-impact projects. They also establish war-room-style workshops to simulate various real-world scenarios across operations, onboarding, devops, and site reliability, in order to challenge assumptions and develop best practices. 

“We chose 20 ‘pioneer’ applications from across the bank and with varying levels of complexity to start our cloud migration journey,” Perez said. “We then used the learning from these ‘pioneers’ as a basis to define the operating model for more than 200 applications. These insights were further incorporated into our ongoing operations as an integral part of our agile operating model.”

Self-sufficiency can be an important tool for talent attraction and promoting engagement.

“We also led workshops with representatives from all functions to simulate multiple scenarios,” Perez continued, “which allowed us to organically develop a cloud operating model suited to our organization’s maturity and capabilities.”

Such an approach allows organizations to be a lot more practical and realistic in defining a fit-for-purpose model that is sustainable for their business. You should also identify passionate technologists and change leaders who have the ability to influence and mobilize a community of peers to rally behind the vision and are prepared to challenge the status-quo.

To start, ask the right questions

Embarking on a cloud transformation journey is very much like a startup, and a great opportunity for traditional enterprises to reset and start afresh. Organizations can and should look at cloud adoption as their opportunity to expand capabilities and become more self-sufficient when it comes to navigating the future. 

At Google Cloud, we encourage our customers to ask the following key questions when embarking on the cloud journey.

  • Is the leadership team committed and knowledgeable in driving cloud adoption? Is there a consistent and clear voice from the top?
  • What is the long-term vision, strategy, and ambition? How will you measure your success? 
  • Are the right incentives in place to upskill internal talent, and to attract external technical talent to join the journey to cloud?
  • Is there a clear focus on building foundational capability, and the know-how to manage?

It is easier said than done. Yet an absolute laser-focused approach to building self-sufficiency as part of cloud adoption can be one of the most effective and sustainable mechanism to drive innovation and business value through cloud. 

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