22 Nov 2021

Speed to Value through Cloud Innovation

Only 10% of UK Businesses are cloud continuum competitors. Nick Taylor, Accenture’s UKI Cloud First Lead, takes us through 3 things to focus on to become a cloud continuum competitor as part of techUK's Cloud Week. #CloudFuture

Before COVID-19, many companies were already migrating workloads to the cloud to cut costs and drive up efficiency. But the last two years have compressed organisations’ cloud transformation like never before: think virtual contact centres stood up in days, with homeworking agents taking customers’ calls.

Against this backdrop, my clients are drawing breath and asking me: where are we really at when it comes to cloud? Are we doing well, could we do better, and what would it all mean?

Recent Accenture research across 25 countries considers exactly this, and looks at the stages of the cloud continuum, and what it takes to be a leader. And it matters, with more than two-thirds of workloads likely to shift to the cloud over the next 3-5 years.

Here’s the headline: while most organisations have some form of cloud approach, around 10% in the UKI are the “continuum competitors”—the ones who recognize cloud as a launchpad for innovation. And that means, for instance, using cloud to re-engineer knowledge work (not just migrate systems or applications).

There is a wide gap, with UK/Ireland continuum competitors achieving up to 3X greater cost reduction than migration players.

So how do you leapfrog to become one of them? Here are three things I’m counselling my clients to consider.


Prioritise the cloud strategy as the north star for everything else. Think about your vision: what are your core values and future aspirations? Where are your competitive vulnerabilities? And what capabilities do you have now, and need tomorrow, to deliver on those target aspirations?

The truth is, that while most organisations say they have a cloud strategy, they are yet to tap into the full potential of cloud and how it can transform operations.

It’s critical that leaders understand how to balance their own continuum ambitions with strategic priorities that will keep the business focused. Specifically, leadership needs to establish business objectives, appropriate levels of risk-taking, and evangelize a culture for agility and growth.

This is easy enough to say, but in practice, there can be complexities around budgeting mentality, how business interacts with IT, risks and incentives, and how success is measured.

This is why the call to action needs to come from the top—and with as much clarity and focus as possible.

Operating Model

Those 10% or so of continuum competitors are different in the way they consider cloud, and it’s something my clients want to understand.

What’s different? It’s not about seeing the cloud as a static end point (i.e., a place to migrate operations) but as a future operating model. A way to innovate and transform e.g., interactions with customers; how to make and market products and services; build and operate IT systems; reimagine the role of data. Think electric vehicles—everything from how you engage with customers, to charging, to analytics; or retail stores—how to serve customers in ultra-flexible and personalised ways; or digital twins fast-tracking automotive design.

And in my experience, this operating model must be iterative and agile. My clients often tell me it feels hard to get started with cloud: the business case takes too long, or the stakeholder landscape is too complex. I counsel them to get started in an iterative way that expects failure and moves through it quickly. Test what’s working, fix what isn’t, and cycle through cloud-based innovation fast for value at speed. Example: back to that virtual contact centre…you can trial off-site agent operations in literally days, using existing cloud-based tools with built-in security. Now give those agents intelligence with great quality analytics, to serve customers better. If it works, scale it up. If it doesn’t, you can adjust or scrap with very limited downside.

And it comes down to a different mindset as part of the operating model. Move faster, skip the analysis paralysis, and get to the value you’re trying to generate. And align your governance, KPIs and stakeholders to enable and support that aim.#


Setting and executing on a strategy successfully takes multidisciplinary teams, with the right skills, in the right combinations (think engineers, change managers, strategists and so on). Without the right talent, the strategy is pointless.

And that includes the value ecosystem partners and other stakeholders can bring to the table. Who should your ecosystem partners be and what capabilities can they add?

Plus, companies that embrace the full potential of cloud make employees’ lives better, with close to 80% of UK and Ireland continuum competitors already using cloud to enhance collaboration among employees, and make their work interesting and analytical by reducing rote tasks and maintenance work. And in an era where talent is harder than ever to come by, enhancing the employee proposition is not just common sense; it’s essential.

All this must exist in a culture where experimentation (and sometimes, failure) is supported and enabled (remember the part about cycling fast through cloud-based innovation). It’s the route to true value at speed, and the way to generate that agility we all talk about.

We’re all aiming to be in that 10% of continuum competitors.


Nick Taylor, UKI Cloud First Lead, Accenture

Welcome to Cloud Week 2021!

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Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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