AWS Cloud Operations & Migrations Blog

Measure Transformation through the Cloud Adoption lens


Business and technology teams often measure Digital Transformation and use a financial metric as the yardstick of success. This is an output focused approach, for example – if you migrate applications as-is to the cloud and reduce costs, businesses will approve more similar migrations. However, organizations need to take a comprehensive approach and include factors like people, organization culture, governance, and agility  as force-multipliers to accelerate their Digital Transformation. It is important that you measure “what was achieved”, identify “what is possible”, and use the results to build a transformation roadmap. The measurement metrics are based on the business stakeholders interested in the results. Revenue Increase is a common metric for a CFO, Risk Reduction is a common metric for a Risk Officer, and Cloud Adoption is a common metric for a CIO. Cloud Adoption accelerates transformation – as it lowers cost and risk, improves operations, helps innovation at speed and scale, and enhances customer experience. Let us define the Cloud Adoption lens as the metrics used to measure these benefits, during any assessment that measures progress of the Digital Transformation.

In this blog post, you will learn about six focus areas (Business, People, Governance, Platform, Security, and Operations) that make up the Cloud Adoption lens used to assess your Digital transformation. We will offer prescriptive guidance to improve the score in each area using the applicable AWS tools, programs, and mechanisms. The rigor you require for each focus area may be different based on your business, your cloud journey, your team skills, and your long-term goals. However, as you iterate over these focus areas based on your business priorities, it continually improves your Cloud Adoption metrics and Transformation outcomes.

Solution Overview  

AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) defines six focus areas with guidance to accelerate digital transformation. The first step in using the Cloud Adoption lens is to complete an assessment aligned with the CAF framework. You can request your AWS account team to run a complimentary assessment. The assessment will provide you with the required metrics to prioritize, plan, and iterate on your transformation roadmap.

The assessment provides you a score in each of the 6 areas that have a nice flow. Start with business goals and work backwards to choose the technology, improve the foundations (people, platform, and governance), finally secure and optimize operations. You need to integrate assessments in your planning cycles, and build a Continuous transformation flywheel (Assess, Review, Plan, and Improve) to derive full benefits from transformation.

Continuous Transformation Flywheel denoting the virtuous cycle of Assess, Review, Plan, and Improve.

Figure 1: Continuous Transformation flywheel

In the next sections we review the Continuous Transformation flywheel steps (Assess, Plan, Review, and Plan) for each of the six focus areas and the AWS tools / mechanisms that help you to iterate and improve.

Business – Align the Cloud Adoption with Business goals:

  • Assess: In the Assess phase, measure alignment of business goals to cloud technology by answering questions like – Does organization strategy articulate use of Cloud technology to meet goals? Do employees (across departments or levels) understand how cloud innovates and influences work? Do business and technology team have a common goal?
  • Review: In this phase, review the assessment scores to reveal the degree of business and technology alignment . Identify areas (Business metrics, Data, Productization, machine learning, and others) that need priority focus to improve.
  • Plan: To plan the alignment of technology and define business key performance indicators (KPIs) there are several AWS mechanisms available. Working Backwards workshops to learn the Amazon way to build a plan – starting with customer needs. Executive Briefing Center (EBC) meetings to collaborate with various Amazon Specialists (including Enterprise Strategists, Industry SMEs, and Product teams). Utilize the Data Driven Everything (D2E) workshops to build a strong data foundation. Consider Product Management workshops to generate big ideas from your data and launch a prototype in weeks. Leverage AWS Gen AI Innovation Center to utilize large language models on historical and real-time data to launch artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based solutions in months.
  • Improve: This phase includes executing the plan and generating data insights. It emphasizes the need for your business to iterate based on the market and customer aspirations.

People : Accelerate people enablement:

  • Assess – Measure your organization’s cloud readiness on people skills and availability by finding answers to – What are the gaps in Cloud Skills of the team? Is your culture aligned to rapid experimentation? Do your teams have the right tools for agile based innovation?
  • Review – The assessment scores reveals readiness of your people to embrace the Cloud Technology. Identify areas (roles, training, tools, team structure, and others) that you need to prioritize and improve.
  • Plan – There are several mechanisms available to improve cloud skills of your teams – Build a catalog of cloud roles and corresponding skills and training using a Learning Needs Analysis. Use Amazon’s Culture of Innovation program to identify and innovate existing processes, and train business executives through the “Digital Transformation for leaders” program.
  • Improve – With rapid changes in cloud services technology each year, iterating this flywheel is important to ensure people have the right skills to leverage the cloud. Consider AWS Digital Classroom training and engaging with AWS ProServe / AWS Partners to augment any Cloud skills gaps until you execute the People readiness plan.

Governance – use real-time data for governance:

  • Assess: Measure the visibility and control available to make businesses decisions with near real-time data. Assessment will ask questions like – How often do you review Applications for modernization? How you manage and control cloud spend? How do you manage data availability, quality , accessibility, and security?
  • Review: The assessment score in this focus area reflects your strength in governing spend, modernization, innovation, and overall leadership reporting based on data insights.
  • Plan: Depending on the score several mechanisms can help improve governance. Some examples are – AWS can help with Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE) that guides executive reporting and establishes common technical standards. Use Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) dashboard for stakeholder updates on migrations. Leverage Cloud Financial Management (CFM) to monitor and report on your cloud spend. Establish a marketplace for data producers and consumers to make data accessible in a secured manner.
  • Improve: Governance and its rigor changes based on stakeholders needs within the organization. You need to iterate upon the Governance flywheel to improve utilization of data for governance, maximize stakeholder value and minimize risk.

Platform – Leverage modern cloud features:

  • Assess: Measure adoption of modern cloud platform with the assessment that asks questions like – Do you mandate architecture patterns? Extent of automation in product delivery? How do you govern cloud service and Marketplace usage? How do you govern data access and consumption?
  • Review: The assessment score indicates the maturity of your product delivery pipeline, degree of automation, and usage of modern cloud features in your organization.
  • Plan: Depending on the scores – plan to implement Infrastructure as Code (IaC) for self-service deployment and enable a zero-touch product delivery . Utilize Experience Based Accelerator to accelerate your cloud journey. Utilize service catalogs with role-based access control as guard rails for cloud and marketplace consumption. Utilize Modernization accelerator (ModAx), Data driven Everything (D2E) workshops, and consider engaging with AWS ProServe or AWS Partners to drive your Modernization.
  • Improve: Consider Modernization as an ongoing exercise, as the availability of new features out-paces adoption.

Security – Establish a Cloud Security model:

  • Assess: The assessment will measure the operational security posture of your business with questions like – Does your risk control framework meet compliance needs? How is your cloud data security? How do you protect from Threat and vulnerability? Security of Cloud Infra and Applications?
  • Review: The score indicates your benefit realization of using cloud features to secure your business operations.
  • Plan: Depending on your business and compliance requirements, you can leverage several programs – Discover sensitive data with ML tools, remediate non-compliant access for provable security, and use Golden Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) to self-configure and launch servers. Consider the Security Automation Solutions to protect Web Apps offered by AWS Support, Well Architected Review (Security Pillar), and review of Identity Management and Access Control.
  • Improve: Security is job-zero at Amazon hence iterating upon the flywheel will help to secure your business.

Operations – Optimize business operations

  • Assess: The assessment measures how optimized is your cloud operation with questions likes – How do you measure Application health and availability? How do you plan application capacity? How do you handle deployment and patching? Who manages your Cloud Ops?
  • Review: The assessment score indicates the efficiency and resiliency of your cloud operation.It also reveals the the degree of cloud automation that you have leveraged.
  • Plan: Some mechanisms and tools to help you optimize cloud operations are – Standardized metrics and self-service dashboards for application health and performance, Frequent, low-risk delivery with auto rollback, Tracing to predict capacity issues and auto-scale, Utilize Serverless as well as region level HA for resilience, collect real-time data to monitor Container Insights for Microservices. Finally use controlled experiments with a managed service AWS Fault Injection Service to test automated incident responses for resiliency and improve time to market.
  • Improve: Iterate over the Operations flywheel to improve one operational area at a time depending on what is the most critical item to address.

Final Thoughts

Each Cloud Adoption focus area enables you to strengthen capability with various tools, programs and mechanisms at your disposal. The Cloud Adoption score in each of the capability area will vary based on your organization culture, cloud journey, and business focus. An important call to action is to integrate the Cloud Adoption Lens based assessments in your annual planning cycle. Create and iterate upon your Continuous Transformation flywheel and become intentional in the use of data to drive your transformation roadmap. At Amazon we leverage data-driven assessments across our businesses to iterate and raise the bar on customer experiences. Contact your AWS account team today to start a CAF based assessment.

Yogesh Bendre

Yogesh Bendre leads Enterprise customers through their Cloud Adoption and Digital Transformation journey by leveraging AWS programs and mechanisms. As a part of the Customer Solutions Management (CSM) team at AWS, he helps business and IT leaders to accelerate innovation at speed and scale. He has held leadership positions in technology, products, and services delivery across his 30-year career; working globally with a diverse set of customers. He loves to spend time with family, nature travel, exercise, and volunteering.