How to Get C-Suite Buy-In for Cloud Migration and Show Clear Financial Impact
As the CEO of a company that guides businesses on innovation, technical design, and implementation, I’ve often found that when we talk about cloud migration, a little bit of resistance can come from the C-suite. This is understandable, as my passion for leveraging the cloud is not equivalent to someone who is in charge of finances or marketing. However, I’ve developed a few tactics to help with this process so these leaders can more easily assess if the cloud could create net gains for their organization.
Reinvent the Process
When most people talk about transitioning to the cloud, they use the words “lift,” “shift,” and “migrating,” which are not 100% accurate. Instead of shifting information from one place to another, you’re really reinventing the process of how your company uses the information. You get to redefine it.
I like to think of the cloud as a virtual data center — a modern information hub. Someone goes to a cloud because they want to take advantage of it, either to use a lot of software-defined technologies or to get rid of a lot of hardware and cabling. It’s not really a migration; it’s not really a shift. It’s a complete modernization of your data systems. By taking technology assets and human resources from one current state to a much more modern state, a company can reduce the amount of labor, technologies, and tools they use. The real net gain becomes the agility the company now has to drive value faster with technology. This newly modernized speed and agility can help create additional markets and opportunities.
Define the Net Gains
If I asked three different stakeholders about cloud migration, they might all give me three different sets of priorities or three different opinions. A CEO looks at the return on assets, a CFO looks at the return on investment, and a CIO looks at the total cost of ownership. So, depending on the C-level executive, I recommend finding a mechanism to make sure they understand what they’re going to gain for their department. Then, align that information with how they’re incentivized to bring value back to the organization. We use this information to explain the cloud through a lens based on that executive’s needs and responsibilities.
At my company, we like to show what current state the data is in and exhibit the true ramp period and cost transformation to the C-suite team. We compare that transformation cost to their total cost of ownership, as well as the risk management and additional security. This way, we can start to see the net gains from the agility perspective of each C-suite team member.
A major benefit of migration is talent retention, which is where companies lose a lot of money. In a tight labor market, it’s very important to make sure employees are being driven to learn the latest and greatest information, skills, and technologies. Retaining talent means giving them a journey that includes upgrading their abilities. Presenting both these quantitative facts and the qualitative outputs helps the members of the C-suite make decisions that align with their bottom-line goals.
Anticipate the Obstacles
I understand that convincing the C-suite (or any board or company) to take this leap will require me to come to the table with plenty of data to support making this decision. One of the obstacles I’ve seen when trying to persuade a team to transition to the cloud is talking too abstractly or not presenting facts. So, I have my team ask precise questions, then give the C-suite some context and factual information to support them. We present the executives with deep data to help them make the best decision for their organization.
If you tell them that the transformation will end up taking fewer people to manage, use fewer tools, or that the department or company can be much more agile, the decision-makers can start to quantify and qualify the change management it takes to do that. When you give someone that life cycle, with everything outlined and mapped out with the eventual benefits and supported facts, it is much easier to help the client make the right decision for their situation. These critical facts can show the journey and that the end results are supported.
Convert Them Into Believers
Educating business leaders on how cloud migration can improve their bottom line makes it much easier for them to understand the benefits. Cloud migration helps a company retain talent. It allows a business to do more with less. It permits the C-suite to drive more agility to the business. And, when you explain that you’re modernizing their applications — that there’s a path to making it less expensive and much more beneficial to the company — you’ll have an easier time converting those in the C-suite into believers.