Leveraging Cloud For Enhanced Productivity

by Aaron Gette, CIO, The Bay Club Company

How has your IT operating model in Cloud changed dur­ing the last five years?

Cloud computing has unburdened businesses from the traditional IT business model. The traditional IT oper­ating model was straightforward. Businesses hired IT professionals to manage the computer hardware and soft­ware assets. The IT staff had to forecast business needs for the next 3 to 5 years with little to no understand­ing of the business im­pacts. The problem with this IT model was that oftentimes the fore­casts were wrong. IT forecasting without considering business growth, increased personnel and higher demand on the systems. Cloud computing provides the means to scale up and adjust for stor­age or server capacity, resulting in major cost sav­ings and a more agile team that can meet the needs of the business.

It’s far less expensive and less of a hassle to increase cloud storage and cloud server needs than on-site infrastructure. IT plays a role in many functions of the business, but cloud computing means less of a need for a more traditional IT staff. Intelligent outsourcing of activity to cloud vendors gives your staff the bandwidth to learn the business and make an impact on the necessary business innovations to create a competitive edge. Taking standard maintenance and management off their plate, they can find time to create new solutions and products for the company.

We have transitioned our entire team to Microsoft Azure and many other cloud and SaaS applications to improve productivity. The true advantage of using cloud platforms is that the IT team no longer should worry about day-to-day maintenance of software, these cloud applications have allowed The Bay Club to streamline our business, providing the IT team with more flex­ibility to create better experiences for our members and employees.

Cloud computing has changed the way that you in­teract with customers. It gives the business the ability to react quicker to customer needs. Customers want a more robust experience, that often means websites and applica­tions need the power of cloud computing to execute a more engaging and interactive digital experience.

What do you think are the biggest obstacles that Cloud technologists face in working in a more agile and out­comes based model?

Change is fluid and as a result, we must meet the needs of the business in real time to effectively make a dif­ference. As rapidly as the Cloud has taken most businesses by storm, it’s also put more pressure on IT to de­liver faster and more results driven outcomes for every aspect of the busi­ness. It’s crucial to define the KPIs and to collect and provide data sets that support business leaders. Once they have a sense of the capabilities, the challenge becomes managing ex­pectations while also achieving the success these platforms can provide.

Moving from traditional IT to a service offering model requires a ma­jor mindset shift in Cloud. How did you make that happen?

It starts with building the right culture and attracting the right tal­ent. Technology, much like life, is managing constant change and those on your team who are looking to evolve and become more effective in a cloud based environment can have a real impact. There is a short­age of technologists who specialize in cloud platforms, so leaning on great partners and leveraging vendors to fill the skill gap is a must. We’ve focused on investing in our current staff, attracting great players and lev­eraging talent from outsourced pro­vider to get us to where we are in our cloud transition.

Turning what may seem like a dis­advantage into an opportunity can be a great motivator for your team. I’ve found that making the investment in their education while also giving them the opportunity to lead and be a conduit for solving problems across the business has been a successful strategy. We’ve built trust and com­munities of collaboration around the many business leaders and sectors of The Bay Club.

We’ve even begun to push ag­ile and sprint methodologies across other parts of the business. Building trust as well as opening others to the benefits of investing in cloud tech­nologies pushes the greater team to innovate the business. We’ve seen the benefits in our Food and Beverage, Retail and Sales operations from em­bracing cloud technologies.

Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excit­ed about?

I’m very excited for what the future will bring in Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Ma­chine Learning. Cloud gives us the storage to ingest the large magnitude of data gathered and the computing power needed to drive results and power all three of these technologies. Ultimately we want to set ourselves apart and drive a digital customer ex­perience that is magical. Implement­ing the right cloud platforms to help you scale up to meet the demands and play back that data in a meaning­ful way is what delivers innovation and competitive advantage.

We are all dealing with technol­ogy every day. How does technology drive your life?

Technology has been a huge part of my life and continues to enhance the experiences I have both person­ally and professionally. There is a fine line with technology, as it can define our ability to experience something meaningful and allow for us to miss­ing the actual encounter altogether. I find that capturing life’s precious mo­ments with loved ones can be a great way to share experiences and remem­ber what a good time you had. It’s also important to be grounded and enjoy the moment. Watching your child achieve success through the lens of a smart phone is not the same as being present and in the moment. At the same time our children are even more engrossed. For them technolo­gy is a teacher, entertainer, care taker and the door way to a future world rapidly changing around them.

I’m both excited and apprehensive for the next iteration of the indus­trial revolution, as we see AI taking the place of many human workers. It’s our charge to make good on the promise of technology and insure we are “making the world a better place” as cliché as it may sound.