On February 26, an exclusive group of digital leaders met at the Quality Leadership Circle to discuss about "Cloud, what else?" and explore the challenges and opportunities in adopting cloud strategies.
The Quality Leadership Circle (QLC) is an exclusive network that we have established in Austria for select key players who want to make their company future-ready. Participants in this circle share their views on strategic developments, challenges, and opportunities in the key fields of action in a small, trusted setting.
Do offerings such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS) deliver what they promise? How are they evaluated in terms of quality, profitability, and risks? How does the mindset of millennials and Gen Z, who are increasingly adopting the role of IT decision-makers, affect the IT strategies of companies?
Impulse talk: Cloud, what else?
Johannes Güntner (Head of IT & Process Management at Wiener Komfortwohnungen), provided the impetus for a lively discussion with his cloud-only strategy. In the next few years, his organization will focus on developing and realizing three major real estate segments: serviced apartments, classic residential real estate, and assisted living - to cover the complete life cycle of the residents of Greater Vienna. Developing these new business segments will increase the number of employees quickly. This is a challenge that IT wants to be prepared for.
As Güntner shared, "It was clear that without a consistent cloud-only strategy, it would be impossible to achieve the set goals within the given time frame. The multiple advantages for us are: focusing IT on supporting the business, flexibility in the faster set up of systems, scalability in reacting to the changes as per the size of the company, availability of the latest technologies, and avoiding high investments in hardware."
The cloud journey for the “Wiener Komfortwohnungen“ began with an Azure cloud basis setup and a subsequent exchange migration, towards the end of 2019. This was followed by the introduction of Intune (a device management solution) and the connection of the first application (an enterprise content management system) through single sign-on. These went on to become our first milestones.
"The topic of security is also a central one for a CIO of today," according to Güntner. The next step then, was about implementing Azure cloud security and Azure Data Loss Prevention & Compliance. For any such successful implementation, it is important to have an unbiased approach towards new technologies, eliminating old paradigms. It requires an IT team that is open to changes and willing to build new capabilities. The participants in the plenary session agreed with this approach.
The fact is that some companies are still reluctant to adopt cloud-based solutions and strategies because of the fear of unauthorized access and potential data loss. As Güntner summarized: "Risks in this regard are serious, but fearing to death was not an option for us either“, taking an innovative, pioneering role here.
Opining on lessons learned, Güntner emphasized that "We are consistently moving towards a modern workplace. We try out new things first in IT, and if they are good, we roll them out throughout the company. The important thing is to train the end-users on an ongoing basis and to bring them on board." The step into the cloud involves a lot of knowledge building.
The panel also agreed that due to the shortage of skilled workers, professional support from external partners could be very helpful here. Further, cost management is another critical success factor. To avoid unpleasant surprises on the monthly cloud bill, one must not lose sight of the overview.
The next steps have already been initiated or are being planned: after the introduction of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint as the central collaboration and intranet platform, PowerBI as the central business intelligence solution and Power Apps & Power Automate for the digitalization and automation of business processes are on the to-do list. "We have set a lot of goals, and I am confident that we will be able to achieve the annual goals through the chosen and well-considered cloud strategy," added Güntner.
After the interesting discussions, we continued the exchange of experiences during a nice ending with culinary delights, which lasted far beyond the planned end. It was an inspiring evening for all participants.
Despite different application scenarios and implementation paths, cloud is already a key component in many companies today. The millennials will ensure that cloud applications are adopted even faster in the future. By 2025, millennials will account for three-quarters of the global workforce and will increasingly take on IT decision-maker roles in companies.
Digitization, artificial intelligence, and demographic change are causing a radical change in the world of work. This also includes the change of generations. Millennials and Generation Z are are growing up in a networked world, based on cloud services. Given the consistency and scale of their usage, they have ensured that cloud services will remain firmly entrenched a standard in the future, without exception. There are exciting times ahead for companies, we’ll keep an eye on it and will certainly take up this topic again at one of the next QLCs.