Six steps to success in a world driven by cloud computing


I recently gave the keynote for an event series on cloud computing run by Telstra Business across five Australian cities. My keynote was followed by a presentation by Telstra’s Chief Technology Officer Hugh Bradlow.

In the current issue of Telstra’s customer magazine Business Insights the feature article is based on Hugh and myself. The article is here, with the full text of my quoted ‘Six Steps to Success’ is below.

Cloud computing: Interview with Ross Dawson and Hugh Bradlow


For businesses, the challenge is understanding the new technology and realising they’ll have to make significant shifts in the way they think and work to take full advantage of it all. Ross Dawson describes this process in his six steps to success, which covers everything from more flexible approaches to working, to new technology strategies.


The first step is being aware of the way cloud computing works. ‘It’s the idea of breathing in the cloud,’ says Dawson. ‘The analogy with air reflects that it’s all around you, it’s pervasive, an unlimited resource. The cloud of computing resources is all around us and if we can tap that and breathe in to access that vital resource on which a business feeds, it will give us the resources and energy to grow.’


The second step involves a shift in the way we’ve traditionally worked and organised the workplace.

The key, says Dawson, is flexibility. ‘We have moved beyond the traditional, hierarchical organisation, beyond having clearly defined roles. Now an organisation is about how well the people can communicate and collaborate, to tap into these to respond to unforeseen situations, to take advantage of opportunities. Thinking of your office as the workplace is now an old concept which needs to be thrown out.’

The result of new work practices like these are increased efficiencies and productivity.

‘It creates this imperative of speed, where being faster to market and more responsive to customers is driving the success of businesses,’ Dawson says.

What this means is giving people the tools and technology to be able to work on the move.

‘You must facilitate this connection, inside and out, any time, anywhere, wherever they are,’ Dawson says. ‘And it enables individuals to live a richer life. Another key driver of this is that people have expectations of a greater work-life balance.’


Along with the tools and technology, a shift in thinking and workplace culture is required.

‘Enabling effective processes and ways of working is critical,’ Dawson says. ‘It’s about creating a culture that supports the ability to work effectively. When people are not in the office, there should be confidence the work is being done, supported by mutual trust.’

In this new culture, relationships are more important than ever.

‘As technology connects us more, the human relationships should become more important,’ Dawson says. ‘You can’t get away with a less supporting and trusting culture. If you don’t have those cultural aspects in place, you’re negatively impacting on your ability to compete.’

Again, the key is flexibility, both personal and organisational.

‘There’s a give and take needed, and it’s not about monitoring people, about micro-managing,’ Dawson says. ‘It’s about trying to see people are being productive and engaged.’


The IT department plays a major role in this shift to new technologies, and requires its own transformation.

‘The technology function has usually been about buying PCs, installing software and maintaining it, and it often requires quite a few people and a lot of money to make this happen,’ Dawson says.

With cloud computing, that role changes and becomes more strategic.

‘A lot of this can be dealt with easily and effectively but, at the same time, accessing the cloud means you have extraordinary business flexibility, you can move into new markets, take on new products, improve customer service, far more quickly than before,’ Dawson says. ‘People working in IT need to take on a more strategic role in helping executives understand what the potential is. They need to be able to clarify the business opportunities afforded by technology.’


With distributed work and an enabling culture in place, the next step is to build access to more resources.

‘Crowd sourcing is an example of how you can start to explore and find resources and new capabilities,’ Dawson says. ‘It’s about using the new capabilities you have and drawing on them, being able to research where you can find the new right opportunities. With more flexible ways of working and bringing people together in teams and building partnerships, as you see opportunities you can jump on them right away.’


What every business needs is a deep understanding of the forces of change and what’s needed to tap into them.

‘There are ongoing forces of change – a business can not be run as a steady state,’ says Dawson. ‘Every business needs to take advantage of changes.’