Written by: By Narsimha Rao Mannepalli, Executive Vice President, Head – Cloud Infrastructure and Security
Solutions and Head – Infosys Validation Solutions, Infosys
Globally, enterprises have been forging forward in digital transformation for a while now. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this march as organizations scurried to embrace the new normalwhile ensuring business continuity. Cloud is at the forefront of this generational shift and a foundational pillar in the digital transformation of any business. The cloud journey is not merely about moving “to the cloud” but about transforming “with the cloud” to achieve improved agility, efficiency and harness the full potential of the cloud technology landscape.
The pivot to cloud-powered transformation needs to focus on investing and deploying the right mix of talent, ensuring regulatory and security compliance, ensuring business resiliency, and speed to market. And this requires a streamlined effort from cloud builders relying on curated and shared knowledge, proven solutions and best practices, the ability to rapidly experiment, innovate, and scale.
This is where a connected cloud community comes in.
A cloud community has practitioners with a collective base of knowledge in the domain pursuing common objectives. These communities often start organically, but organizations can work to create, manage, and nurture them.
A vibrant community of business and technology innovators offers cloud builders the right set of tools, platforms, and solutions to help enterprises drive innovation at scale. These communities include start-ups, system integrators, service providers, academia, gig workers, and citizen cloud developers and work from the grassroots level upwards across industries, organizations, functions, and technologies to develop reusable cloud assets. These cloud assets can be harnessed to power the cloud migration of enterprises and enable their digital transformation.
Traditionally, organizations created enablement teams and centres of excellence to band together experts drawn from different roles within the organization and transform individual expert knowledge into organizational knowledge.
Etienne Wenger, an educational theorist, and Jean Lave, a social anthropologist, conducted a seminal study in 1991 about ‘Communities of Practice’ which they defined as “groups of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise.”
All organizations need a comprehensive skills development program. Apart from the standard training and enablement programs, communities of practice of like-minded professionals can be embraced as part of a larger plan to create a culture of continuous learning.
Infosys has also built a cloud community – the Infosys Cobalt Cloud Community – comprising of proficient business and technology practitioners. The community is scaling up internally within Infosys and with academia, but it will gradually be extended outside of the company to include a larger ecosystem of clients and partners.
Benefits of a cloud community
From the early days of internet bulletin boards to technology-specific online forums or user groups to StackOverflow or GitHub, technology professionals are not alien to the concept of communities, collaborative development as well as the good karma associated with learning and knowledge sharing. A cloud community, therefore, is a natural fit for the demographic.
A cloud community can help build and offer an ever-growing catalog of blueprints and cloud assets. These could include business assets that focus on industry verticals and horizontal business capabilities, engineering assets such as frameworks and models which can be utilized to create higher-level solutions, knowledge assets that can be utilized for project implementation, for instance, reference architectures, and learning assets, example, methodologies and best practices.
A cloud community can be an integral part of an organization’s holistic approach towards skill development. Rather than replacing other means of learning, communities supplement and enhance them and help foster peer mentoring, knowledge sharing, and innovative problem solving.
These communities also serve as a marketplace where these assets are curated, finetuned, and continuously made available for use by enterprises. Businesses can also draw from the experience and expertise of other ecosystem players in specific domains to solve diverse challenges.
A cloud community brings tech innovators and business innovators on one platform enabling them to spot trends and roll out solutions to stay ahead in the game. As organizations create bespoke solutions for their customers, they can also engage with the community to take advantage of the collective infrastructure to research while also building a repository of digital solutions to solve everyday business challenges.
Once established, communities must be nurtured and built into the digital transformation journey of organizations. There is a need to identify skills gaps and develop a comprehensive skills enablement program to build enterprise-wide cloud fluency. These communities should also have the support of the executive leadership and be driven by a strategic framework aligned with all stakeholders.
The cloud communities are a part of a multi-pronged approach towards skill development, knowledge sharing, and strategic innovation. They essentially help in democratizing the ecosystem by bringing together relevant entities for cloud migrations, building reusable assets to solve enterprise challenges, and innovating to help businesses achieve apposite efficiencies.