The inaugural Cloud Wars Expo (CWE) was energizing and enlightening. Across the 40-plus sessions comprising keynotes, fireside chats, cloud provider battlegrounds, and deep-dive how-to sessions, the unanimous theme was how the cloud has become an accelerator of growth and change. Not “wouldn’t it be cool if….” Rather, throughout the conference we experienced example after example of real change via the cloud impacting supply chains, sustainability, and digital business across industries.
Here are my takeaways, heavily influenced by the front row seat I had at the Cloud Wars Expo sessions I moderated and participated in.
Cloud Is the Platform for Business Growth and Change
SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Workday, and Oracle — all the major cloud leaders — took the stage to share what they are seeing and doing with and for their customers. There was little talk of cloud technology. On the contrary, these keynote sessions all focused on what businesses, governments, and organizations of all sizes are doing with and in the cloud. The speakers amplified how accessibility to applications, data, and resources is enabling huge societal and business changes that we’ve long struggled to realize.
Starting July 20th, Acceleration Economy subscribers can experience and gain access to 40 hours of content from the Cloud Wars Expo on demand by going here.
A few highlights of what’s happening as people, companies, and governments have gained access to and use the power of the cloud:
- Goods and services via optimized supply chains no matter the size of your company or country.
- Digital tools and applications to better serve, dazzle, and delight customers.
- Big and small data for discovery and intelligence to improve health, cure disease, and address inequity.
- Analytics to track, analyze, and report environmental data to bring to market sustainable solutions.
Digital and Cloud Transformation = Business Model Transformation
I had the privilege to moderate a session titled “Getting Your Board Onboard for Cloud and Digital Transformation.” In this interactive session, the discussion centered on how to sell through the cloud and digital transformation as an accelerator of business model shifts and expanding all the benefits these shifts can bring — namely, driving higher margins, entering new markets, and expanding customer relationships.
My fellow panel members — Acceleration Economy Analysts Wayne Sadin and Tony Uphoff and Chief Reinvention Officer Gayle Keller — and I discussed the importance of understanding your Board’s grasp of digital business balanced with the readiness of your organization to change.
Uphoff emphasized the learning that digital business and cloud migration are not just business technology projects. Contrarily, these company-wide transformational efforts require sustained short-, mid-, and long-term focus to ready your business to compete. This is an ongoing commitment.
Sadin recommended the necessity to use and exploit data and turn your data into insights and intelligence to drive the business. As a CIO, he focused on cloud accessibility for the company, customer and third-party data to launch data-driven products and services, and self-serve applications to increase revenue.
Culture Trumps Technology and Strategy
Culture was another consistent theme across Cloud Wars Expo sessions. In the Board-level session mentioned above, Keller articulated the need for a culture that put employees and the team at the center of transformation. Yes, it starts with getting the Board onboard, but all stakeholders must become active participants and believers in the new business model. Keller also reiterated the support requirement, including providing funding and a program to help employees “reinvent themselves and the roles.”
Another culture-focused deep dive discussion was on “Creating a Data-Driven Culture to Delight and Serve Customers.” Key learnings were the five essential culture attributes of customer-centric organizations. We dove in and broke down each one of these attributes, covering the how and the why.
- CXOs value and use customer data for decisions every day. Healthy and high-performing data culture starts at the top, flourishes across the organization, and delights customers.
- Democratization of customer data empowers everybody. The democratization of data empowers all employees and expects and rewards data-driven customer outcomes.
- Customer data transparency and trust are foundational. Data transparency and governance create customer trust and decision confidence.
- Customer data to understand, not just to justify or prove. Customer data to understand and find smart breakthroughs, not just to prove or justify spend.
- Fund and reward customer data talent and breakthroughs. Investing in customer data science, talent, training, mentoring, and confidence.
Brand Matters in Every Growth and Transformation Effort
A hallmark of Cloud Wars Expo was the fireside chat session format. No slides. Just a roll-up-your-sleeves conversation about and through the why, how, and what of using cloud to navigate and capitalize on dynamic markets that change every week. In the CXO2 Growth Accelerator Lounge, LinkedIn SeniorDirector of Global Strategic Accounts (GSA) Mike Dudgeon, Cloud Wars Founder Bob Evans, analyst Tony Uphoff, and I got into a spirited conversation about balancing the setting of big goals for growth while managing risk, especially in today’s uncertain macro-economic environment.
Fresh off the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and citing research from LinkedIn’s B2B Institute, Dudgeon shared the prevalence of B2B and brand as a true business value driver. In many ways, brand has become an overlooked asset in the acceleration economy. In noisy, fast-paced markets, creative brand building and management have become an important lever for sustained growth. Evans shared the example of the work going on data cloud provider Snowflake. Customer obsession, commitment to big data, and brand are significant pillars in the company’s impressive growth run.
Drinking Our Own Champagne With Cloud Wars Expo On-Demand
You never know what’s going to happen when you take a digital brand into a live format. I was proud to be a contributor and to see the results, especially with the headwinds of flight and travel chaos, a lurking uncertain economic environment, and post-Covid fatigue. For those who attended, thank you. If you weren’t able to be there live, please take advantage of access to the powerful sessions via on-demand access starting on July 20th. I hope to see you next year at the Cloud Wars Expo 2023.