Some background: it was 2018 in Europe, and banks across the world were terrified of running critical workloads on the cloud. They didn’t want to be responsible for data breaches and other security concerns, to be the reason key information wound up in the wrong places. Merely announcing that they were considering shifting key workloads to the cloud could be a blow to their security reputation.
On the other hand, there were a ton of companies that provided payment services such as allowing banks to facilitate money transfers in real time. As banking customers, we have all endured the unpleasant experience of waiting multiple days to see money in our account after a successful transfer. The possibility of immediate transfers via the cloud was therefore a significant opportunity, and a gap that my team and I saw the potential to bridge.
Yet, being a first mover would inflate risk for already terrified banks. If working on the cloud didn’t go well, if there was a data breach, this would be the first thing people would recall. So how could we convince them that they would be leaving behind a more progressive legacy instead? How did they go from being highly skeptical, to being the first bank in the world to publicly adopt cloud technology for critical workloads?
Using this experience as a case study, I’ll walk you through the steps my team and I took for this bank, and many others across the world. This first section highlights important groundwork you should start with. The following section walks you through steps you can use to start and scale, and to address common concerns. While the examples here relate to adopting cloud technology, the steps and lessons laid out below can be used to implement any change across your organization.
To harness the power of the cloud on a meaningful scale, you’ll need to get buy-in from many stakeholders - from operations, to product and engineering, to finance, to legal, and naturally, compliance. Each of these stakeholders would have very different priorities and fears. As someone looking to get their company to utilize the cloud, it’s key that you take time to listen, and fully understand your stakeholders’ priorities, fears, and pain points.
As a proponent for cloud technology adoption, you’re likely to have spent time doing a great deal of research and have spoken to experts and peers in the field who have migrated to the cloud. You’d also have a better sense of brands and service providers you should trust. The reality is that the stakeholders and decision makers you need to convince don’t share this depth of understanding. At least not yet.
This is why taking time to define your stakeholders’ fears and goals is important. Getting specific helps you to address them at a later stage so that you can translate the benefits of cloud technology, or guide a trusted expert to translate, in a way that matters to your stakeholders. Most people are likely to highlight benefits to get buy-in. As Henry Ford said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own.” Doing this work up front gives you the opportunity to reframe benefits so that your stakeholders are able to see exactly how it would solve their specific concerns.
Listening to them also gives you a sense of what the more challenging projects would be, and what to avoid when you’re making your initial pitch. Say your stakeholders have pressing issues like customer retention that they want resolved. They would be significantly more likely to consider your solution if you are able to demonstrate how the cloud could offer a safe, cost-effective, quick and reliable means to address one of their top issues.
To a smaller degree, institutions may be resistant to change because of capital expenses that they’ve already incurred. This includes investment in capital outlay for data centers, and concerns from teams responsible for these resources about the corresponding impact (e.g. jobs and budget that might be lost) as a result of a move to the cloud.
To address these concerns, I’ve found it useful to remind companies that it isn’t an either-or situation. While the cloud offers benefits, the reality is that there is data that really shouldn’t be put on a public cloud depending on the nature of the business. Their capital investments and data centers won’t be made obsolete as cloud adoption could be a phased approach. After you’ve stressed this, highlight key areas that the cloud could help your company with. Show them how it complements existing infrastructure investments so that they can see why co-existing with the cloud is a positive change.
To view the full content, sign up for a free account and unlock 3 free podcasts, power reads or videos every month.
CEO | Former VP, Partnerships and Alliances | Former Global Head of Strategic Startups
Partner1 | Clearbit | Microsoft