Technology Service Providers’ Conundrum: Cloud Good for Growth, Not for Their Leadership | Blog

Leaders of cloud development at technology service providers are often seen as stars, leaving executives in charge of traditional segments feeling left out and unnoticed. The C-Suite needs to recognize the important contributions business units and their leaders play to the company’s overall growth and future success. Read on to learn the actions “non-cloud” business leaders should take to be sure they get the company investment, attention, and rewards they deserve. 

What describes the current cloud landscape for business at technology service providers

In our market observations, one aspect has become very common. Leaders at technology service providers who are driving cloud business development for their firms are witnessing much stronger professional growth in the organization than others.

Businesses always value and reward people who are part of fast-growing markets. Given that cloud business for technology service providers is growing two to five times more than overall company growth, it is the cynosure of discussions, investments, and leadership promotions. However, it is also creating challenges for C-level executives in terms of managing the morale of other “non-cloud” leaders.

As a result, we see some segments are now led by “lesser title” executives than in the past. Even if senior leaders run these businesses, they do not get the needed attention and investments from the C-suite. These units quickly become the cash cows that need to drive other high-growth business, such as cloud, which are subtle indications from top management around companies’ priorities.

What are non-cloud leaders doing?

Leaders driving traditional segments are partnering with cloud leaders to drive business. However, they also realize they need to play “second fiddle” in this partnership. Though the cloud business probably needs these segments more than vice versa, the cloud business becomes the fulcrum around which the partnership revolves.

This is forcing technology service providers to rethink the organizational structure of these segments. Some of them are or will embed these segments into different units instead of running them as standalone practices. Many leaders who were part of transformational offerings (e.g., modernization, platforms) have changed their roles now to align with cloud business units.

However, this is not enough, and the non-cloud leaders know it.

What should C-level leaders do?

Top management focuses on the overall growth of the firm. Cloud will continue to receive significant focus and investments from the C-suite because of the benefits of cloud technology to the business. However, the C-suite is failing to realize that the cloud business cannot be seen as an antagonist and other leaders should not feel excluded.

Although C-level executives have aligned non-cloud leaders’ incentives, growth, and influence areas based on capabilities, focus, and aspirations, they must design better models to engage them. They need to understand that cloud business development relies on the success of these other units that bring 50-80% of their top line.

While the cloud business at technology service providers acts as a “nodal agency,” it is unable to influence capability building across the organization. The key reason is because non-cloud leaders are unwilling to collaborate beyond the bare minimum because they see their personal growth being stifled even if they make the cloud business succeed.

We believe technology service providers who can solve this complex organizational structure problem will accelerate their overall business and cloud growth faster than their peers. As newer concepts of Metaverse, Digital Twins, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and composable businesses accelerate and large spend areas such as supply chain, networks, employee engagement, sustainability, and customer experience get disrupted by cloud, it will become even more important.

However, cloud will not be front and center before the strategy but an enabler for overall business outcome. Therefore, C-level leaders need to nurture their leadership outside of the immediate cloud business to prepare their organization for future success. Failing to do so may result in near-term growth for cloud business development but bring long-term challenges for the overall organization.

What should non-cloud leaders do?

  • Stake claim to the high table: Have the courage to speak up about the importance of your service line. Educate top management about how underinvestment in your business impacts the overall firm. Continue to collaborate with cloud leaders but build deep relationships where you are an equal partner instead of being in the back seat
  • Make your portfolio exciting: Leaders should make their management style and offering portfolio enticing. Unfortunately, most confuse their run the business innovation as exciting, which it is not. They should focus on revamping their offering portfolio, drive positive messages across team members about the impact they are creating, and create internal events for people to feel connected and motivated
  • Invest beyond run the business: Many leaders have almost given up on the hope of growth investing in their business. Some of it is a result of top management’s lack of interest, but in large part is due to the internalization the non-cloud leaders have of this apathy. These leaders need to build a stronger case for investments in their segments, link it to overall firm performance, and provide detailed insights into how their business is adding to cloud momentum
  • Quit: If the leaders continue to get short shrift in their organization, they should proactively look at opportunities outside their company. Smaller and niche companies are always seeking a growth-centric C-suite and will be happy to engage with them. In these companies, executives can create their charters and show the value add they can bring

What is your take on cloud business development at technology service providers? Please reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected], or contact us.

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