Peter Reed

Lead Advisory Partner

Pete joined Headforwards in 2022 as lead Partner in our CIO Advisory division. He has worked as a senior IT Executive for over 20 years, his most recent industry role being Chief Information Officer for AXA Health. At AXA, Pete provided IT across both UK and Global business lines supporting strong business growth and profitability.


Leveraging and using the cloud is a critical component in any digital transformation journey. Done well, it can provide great business value, which is why the adoption of cloud computing has been so rapid over the last decade. 

There is no single journey to becoming a cloud first business; start-ups and companies that are digital native from the beginning will have a very different cloud start to the organisations that are older and have highly complex technology landscapes, pivoting from legacy to cloud-based landscapes.

Regardless of starting point, all organisations must approach their cloud journey in the same way if it is to be smooth sailing. 

Why Cloud?

There are a wealth of benefits to becoming a cloud first business:

  • It can leverage new SaaS capability – products like Sales Force, Microsoft Dynamics and Service Now can help organisations do things faster and launch their new products to market. 
  • It can update and modernise old hardware and assets.
  • It can allow organisations to scale more quickly and much more cost effectively than they would have done if they were using an on-premise environment. 
  • It can improve operational resilience, increase an organisation’s cyber posture, and be a primary enabler to deliver software and services in a more agile manner.
  • It allows organisations to pivot away from traditional capital expenditure financial models around IT infrastructure, and they can take advantage of the financial flex and control that well executed cloud operating models provide. Done well, a company moves to a pay as you go model and only pays for what it uses.
  • It has the capability to transform how organisations use both their own data (the data they potentially hold on customers or their financial/marketing data) and other data sources available to them. They can blend their own data with other data sources to become data led and leverage many powerful tools to interpret this. The cloud also makes it easier to comply with data policy and regulation.

The most successful cloud transitions are those where the organisation has understood the business value they want to get from this at the beginning. Every organisation’s cloud journey is different, so understanding why the business wants to move to the cloud and what is it trying to achieve are really important. 

For a successful cloud journey, an organisation must have a robust cloud architecture with a great deal of emphasis placed on data – in particular the movement of existing data to the cloud/the integration layer, and how that will operate.

They must also make sure they fully understand the level of technical debt they have – particularly software. Out of date software will make your cloud journey more difficult and this needs to be factored in at the beginning.

Whilst the two points above are really important, it’s surprising how many companies devote all their time and energy to them. Huge focus is put on decisions around which cloud vendor and strategic platform to use, and little attention is given to the impact transition to the cloud will have on the wider business.

Translating the capabilities of the cloud into tangible business value is not easy, and I don’t believe you can unlock the true value of the cloud if you don’t embrace the culture, process, tooling and capability changes needed. A business must take the whole organisation on the cloud journey – not just one department, if it is to realise the true potential of the cloud.

It’s really important that an organisation explains the cloud in a way that is relevant and specific to employees. Be upfront and transparent about the fact that existing processes will need to be adapted and changed, new tools will be brought in and deployed, and there will be lots of new skills that will need to be learned by the workforce.

Security teams will need to understand how cloud technologies work, data teams will need to learn how to use the new tools available to them, the finance team needs to understand how it impacts run and change costs, and the IT department needs to understand how the service model they will use to run the cloud, will work.

Cloud provides an organisation with immense power and ability: only paying for what it uses, better protecting its data, delivering projects in an agile manner, improving services to customers and employees, launching new products to market quicker, rapidly deploying enhancements, keeping systems up to date and automating processes and procedures. 

The business value is huge, but to realise it requires robust foundations to be put in place, addressing all considerations upfront to optimise cloud transition and ensure success. 

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