Accenture surveyed 200 senior IT executives across eight industries to assess the benefits achieved from cloud and the barriers to cloud adoption. The benefits of cloud were analysed across four dimensions: cost savings, time to market, business enablement and improved service levels.  

Only 4% of the respondents indicated they have not achieved their goals; the others achieved varying levels of expected outcomes, with only 35% stating they have achieved desired outcomes across each of the four dimensions. This means nearly two thirds of the respondents have not realised the expected benefits of cloud.  

On further analysis of the responses, a direct correlation between the extent of cloud adoption and benefits realisation was found. For organisations that were fairly early in their journey or low in their adoption the results are not as promising, with speed to market being the most challenging dimension – only 18% achieved this goal.   

Outcomes also varied based on the cloud model adopted – public, hybrid or private cloud – with the best results being achieved by users of public cloud and the poorest by private cloud users. Interestingly the levels of satisfaction with cloud results across the three models were quite similar.  

The size of the organisation did not seem to influence the extent of benefits realised. The exception was the dimension of service level improvements, where larger organisations struggled to achieve their goals and only 28% of respondents achieved the expected outcomes fully. 

So, what’s hindering these organisations from achieving the expected benefits? The top four reasons cited by the respondents (in order of priority) were: 

  1. Security and compliance risk – 65% of the respondents cited this as one of the top three reasons. Compliance is more geared around implementation in line with regulation and policy, and definition of the latter. Despite the acknowledgement that cloud providers have made huge investments in security, it continues to be a concern for many organisations. As the old saying goes about defending systems against cyber attacks: “We need to be right always; they need to be right once.” 
  2. Complexity of business and organisational change – while organisational change is not easy, it is one of the most critical components of cloud-based transformations.  
  3. Legacy infrastructure and application sprawl – this is a reality in most financial services organisations, with 43% of the surveyed executives citing this as one of the top reasons. Without solving for legacy via transformation or adoption of digitally decoupled architectures, cloud would continue to be a peripheral element.   
  4. Lack of skills – although this came at the bottom of the list, in my view lack of skills is the biggest deterrent to widespread cloud adoption. This is not limited to South Africa, but is pretty much a global phenomenon.  

Addressing the skills challenge is the biggest opportunity ahead of us in South Africa, especially in terms of the socio-economic impact. There could be several options. If there was a surplus of skills we could source these from the market, but in a deficient market this would create further tension.  

Training and upskilling are definitely the longterm answers, but they have to be “just-in-time” and at the appropriate levels.  

A skills development initiative with the right partnerships and enabling environment will benefit organisations and society in general. 

Another important aspect is organisational change and infusing the right culture in the work environment. This would be important for attracting and retaining talent. Employees need to feel valued, they need to experience a fun and inclusive workplace, and they should want to be associated with the organisation.  

Companies that succeed in realising the considerable benefits of the cloud will be those who solve these challenges and manage to find, attract, employ and train the skills they need. 

For more about how we are helping South African FS companies with their cloud and business strategies, please feel free to contact me directly. You can also access the full research report here.