Cloud adoption-related innovation

All IT portfolios contain a few workloads and ideas that can significantly improve a company's position in the market. Most cloud adoption efforts focus on the migration and modernization of existing workloads. Cloud innovation, however, can provide the greatest business value. Innovation related to cloud adoption unlocks new technical skills and expanded business capabilities.

In the Cloud Adoption Framework Innovate methodology, you focus on understanding customer needs and rapidly building innovations that shape how your customers interact with your products. This article illustrates an approach to delivering on the value of a minimum viable product (MVP).

To prepare for this phase of the cloud adoption lifecycle, the framework suggests the following cloud innovation exercises:


Create hypothesis with business value consensus: Before you decide on technical solutions, identify how new innovations can drive business value and come up with a hypothesis about customer needs.

Build your first MVP: Once you have a hypothesis with enough value potential to integrate it into your application, start the build process. Development sprints should be as quick as possible. Quick sprints let teams quickly verify or reject a hypothesis, or fine tune how required functionality integrates with the application.

Measure & Learn from your MVP: You want to verify the accuracy of your hypothesis as soon as possible. A minimum viable product (MVP) is a preliminary version of the new feature that offers enough functionality to gather feedback and confirm if you're moving in the right direction.

Expand digital innovation: To refine your hypothesis using the innovation disciplines or the digital inventions that include:
  • Democratize data
  • Engage via applications
  • Empower adoption
  • Interact with devices
  • Predict and influence
  • Innovation summary

    The following approach builds on existing lean methodologies. It's designed to help you create a cloud-focused conversation about customer adoption and a scientific model for creating business value. The approach also maps existing Azure services to manageable decision processes. This alignment can help you find the right technical options to address specific customer needs or hypotheses.

    As you build your MVP, you should consider using the five disciplines of digital inventions, which include:

    • Democratize data
    • Engage via applications
    • Empower adoption
    • Interact with devices
    • Predict and influence

    Diagram of the Innovate methodology of the Cloud Adoption Framework.

    This article series emphasizes the following aspects of this methodology:

    • First, always start with customer adoption to generate feedback that builds customer partnerships through the build-measure-learn feedback loop.
    • Second, examine approaches to developing digital inventions that prioritize adoption.

    You don't need to adopt all the practices at once. These disciplines highlight several approaches to developing digital inventions while also letting you focus on adoption and customer empathy.

    The following section describes the formula for innovation and the commitments it takes to achieve success with this approach.

    Formula for innovation

    Successful innovation isn't about some big transformational event or an elusive, mythical process. Success in innovation is more of a balancing act, illustrated by a simple equation: innovation = invention + adoption.

    Innovation happens at the intersection of invention and adoption. True innovation stems from slowly adjusting human experiences through new approaches, new processes, and new technologies. In this formula, invention means you create a new solution that meets a customer need. Conversely, adoption means you apply the new solution to shape human behaviors and interactions. Finding the right balance between invention and adoption requires iteration, data-driven decision making, constant learning, and a growth mindset. It also requires technologies that can keep pace with the countless opportunities to learn in today's digital society.

    The cloud is often a great platform for invention or the technological aspects of innovation. Unfortunately, most great ideas fail during the hard work of adoption, rather than during the ideation or invention processes. To ensure success, development teams should always start with adoption as the test for innovation. So this methodology starts with adoption. To use this methodology, your team should agree to the following three commitments:

    Cultural commitments

    Adopting the Innovate methodology requires cultural commitments to effectively use the metrics outlined in this article. Before you change your approach to driving innovation, make sure the adoption and leadership teams are ready to make these important commitments.

    Commitment to prioritize customers over technology

    Every development team has a set of tools or technologies that they're most familiar with. It's wise to play to those strengths and use what you know. However, for innovation to be successful, teams must maintain a focus on customer needs and the hypothesis being tested. At times, this focus might not align with the capabilities of a particular tool or architectural approach. To be successful in innovation, the development team must remain open-minded. During the invention process, focus technical decisions on the needs of the customer over the preferences of your team.

    Commitment to transparency

    To understand measurement in an innovation approach, you must first understand the commitment to transparency. Innovation can only thrive in an environment that adheres to a growth mindset. A cultural imperative to learn from experiences is at the root of a growth mindset. Successful innovation and continuous learning start with a commitment to transparency in measurement. It's a brave commitment for the cloud adoption team to make. However, that commitment is meaningless if it's not matched by a commitment to preserve transparency within the leadership and cloud strategy teams.

    Transparency is important because measuring customer impact doesn't address the question of right or wrong. Nor are impact measurements indicative of the quality of work or the performance of the adoption team. Instead, they represent an opportunity to learn and better meet your customers' needs. Misuse of innovation metrics can stifle that culture. Eventually, such misuse leads to manipulation of metrics, which in turn causes long-term failure of the invention, the supporting staff, and ultimately the management structure who misused the data. Leaders and contributors alike should avoid using measurements for anything other than an opportunity to learn and improve the MVP solution.

    Commitment to iteration

    Only one promise rings true across all innovation cycles: you won't get it right on the first try. Measurement helps you understand what adjustments you should make to achieve the desired results. Changes that lead to favorable outcomes stem from iterations of the build-measure-learn process. The cloud adoption team and the cloud strategy team must commit to an iterative mindset before adopting a growth mindset or a build-measure-learn approach.

    Next steps

    Before building the next great invention, review the different approaches to developing digital inventions while keeping adoption and customer empathy in mind.