11436 SSO

GLH: The Importance of Cloud-First IT

Jun 23, 2015


In my previous post, I explained how we see the alignment between Apigee Institute data and how Chris Hewertson, CIO at U.K. hotel group GLH, provided a great example of the power of working “outside in.”

Having touched on a cultural practice, I now want to turn to a technical pattern.

Chris Hewertson,
chief information officer at U.K. global hotel group GLH

In his CIO 100 interview in 2014, Chris emphasized a commitment to cloud. Core systems “have been selected as they can be delivered via public or private cloud, as a service.” About 70% of applications and infrastructure at GLH were already run from the cloud, with the aim to increase the percentage further, he added.

In his latest interview, Chris provides some specific criteria for “technologies that enable innovation.” These include the ability to be “delivered and operated as a service by the supplier or a partner, rather than requiring in-house build and operation/support teams,” and having “open, RESTful API services that support process automation, management and reporting, and enable interoperability.”

Chris epitomizes a strategy that we call “cloud first,” and have benchmarked against hundreds of enterprises.

We’ve previously shared that companies with stronger capabilities deploying apps, operating APIs, and using data analytics are more likely to outperform on key business outcomes than those who are lagging behind on digital capabilities.

“How are the leaders building strong digital capabilities?” is a natural question to ask in response to this finding. We focused one survey on IT decisionmakers to uncover patterns for success implementing app, API, and analytics capabilities.

Chris’ comments put him squarely on what our data suggest is the right side of a divide in how IT organizations are responding to a changing environment—a divide with real consequences for IT’s ability to deliver digital capabilities.

IT decision-makers we surveyed at “digital leaders” (those companies with the top 50% of scores on strength delivering apps, operating APIs, and using data analytics) and “digital laggards” (the bottom 50%) largely agree that the environment is changing. Most (77%) of the former and nearly as many of the latter (72%) agree with the statement: “The types of external resources available to IT has changed a lot over the past five years.”

But their strategies for responding to it are different. IT organizations at digital leaders are more than one-and-a-half-times as likely to be described as “cloud-first” (81% to 49%). At almost none (2%) of the laggards does cloud-first fit “extremely well”—while the opposite is true among leaders. Only 1% of leaders were described as “not at all” cloud-first.


Old habits can die hard in IT. “We’ll build it ourselves” may be tightly intertwined with preserving a sense of control. But in an environment where enterprises have little choice but to re-tool to deliver digital customer experiences at a pace increasingly being set by digital disruptors, aggressively leveraging IaaS, PaaS, and MBaaS is strongly associated with success—if not survival. And XaaS solutions with open APIs can make assembling a “best of breed” portfolio easier than it likely would have been in the pre-digital era (here’s an example of Apigee Edge and Salesforce working better together).

Chris aims for GLH to “lead the industry in infrastructure and guest-facing technology.” He’s shared patterns and practices that we’ve observed among leaders like him and quantified as meaningfully associated with success in building digital capabilities. I hope this inspires your IT and business leadership to embrace “outside in” and “cloud first” to accelerate progress on your digital journey.

For further inspiration, join us at  I ♥ APIs 2015 in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 12 through Oct. 14. Chris will share his experiences, joining a host of other Apigee customers and digital leaders at what promises to be the world’s largest event dedicated to APIs and digital business strategy for developers, IT experts, and business strategists.

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