Capture strategic motivation


This unit discusses some of the motivations for cloud migration that can lead to more successful business outcomes. Considering common motivations can help facilitate a conversation about business drivers and, ultimately, business outcomes.

Tailwind Traders' executive challenge

A review of the customer narrative would suggest that both innovation and migration are motivations for Tailwind Traders. Much of the company's focus is on innovative technology investments, but most of the technology costs are on central IT operations.

Tailwind exhibits many common business values and expected benefits, including innovation and growth, improvements to operations and security, and technical capabilities and agility. Use this unit to understand how the company balances those expectations.

Guiding the conversation

Digital transformation is a substantial bet for many organizations and the technology teams that lead the efforts. A successful digital transformation produces returns for all who are involved.

Whether they succeed or fail, digital transformation programs can define careers and the future of a business. Strategic clarity and executive buy-in are imperative for success. A clear commitment to strategic motivations drives investment allocation and helps leaders make difficult technical decisions.

Prioritizing motivations is the first step toward creating clarity in corporate strategy. This step helps ensure that all team members are working toward common goals, and it secures executive sponsorship to set budget, modify operations, and review results.

Most digital transformation "failures" end in technological success, but they don't deliver on the initial strategic change that's required to positively affect the business. Ensure that technical success equates to business success by defining clear motivations and expectations with executive level leaders as early as possible.

Throughout this conversation, be prepared to engage various personas. The following list shows a few of the types of roles that will be involved in establishing strategic vision and each persona's most common focus area:

  • Finance leadership: Increase profitability while driving compliance
  • Marketing: Acquire and retain customers and build reputation
  • Sales: Accelerate sales and improve customer lifetime value
  • Human resources: Retain, recruit, and empower employees
  • Executive leadership/board of directors: Meet market growth requirements and environmental sustainability metrics


Business transformations that are supported by cloud adoption can be driven by various motivations. It's likely that several motivations apply at the same time.

The goal of the lists in the following table is to help generate ideas about which motivations are relevant for your organization. From there, you can prioritize and assess the potential impacts of the motivations. Your cloud-adoption team should meet with executives and business leaders and use this list to understand the motivations that might be affected by a cloud adoption effort.

Critical business events Migration Innovation
Datacenter exit

Merger, acquisition, or divestiture

Reduction in capital expenses

End of support for mission-critical technologies

Response to regulatory compliance changes

New data sovereignty requirements

Reduction of disruptions and improvement of IT stability

Reduce carbon footprint

Cost savings

Reduction in vendor or technical complexity

Optimization of internal operations

Increase in business agility

Preparation for new technical capabilities

Scaling to meet market demands

Scaling to meet geographic demands

Integration of a complex IT portfolio

Preparation for new technical capabilities

Building new technical capabilities

Scaling to meet market demands

Scaling to meet geographic demands

Improved customer experiences and engagements

Transformation of products or services

Market disruption with new products or services

Democratization or self-service environments

Classify your motivations

Your motivations for cloud adoption likely will fall into multiple categories. As you're building the list of motivations, you'll probably see trends emerge. Motivations tend to be associated more with one classification (critical business event, migration, innovation) than with others. Use the predominant classification to help guide the development of your cloud-adoption strategy.

When a response to critical business events is the highest priority, it's important to get started with migration early, often in parallel with strategy and planning efforts. Taking this approach requires a growth mindset and a willingness to iteratively improve processes based on direct lessons learned.

When migration is the highest priority, strategy and planning play a vital role early in the process. We recommend that you implement the first workload in parallel with planning efforts to help the team understand and anticipate any learning curves that are associated with cloud adoption.

When innovation is the highest priority, strategy and planning require additional investments early in the process to ensure balance in the portfolio and wise alignment of the investment that's made during cloud adoption. For more information and guidance, see Understand the innovation journey.

To ensure wiser decision making, all participants in the migration process should have a clear awareness of their motivations. The following section outlines how leaders in the organization can influence wiser decision outcomes through consistent, strategic methodologies.

Motivation-driven strategies

This section highlights the migration and innovation motivations and their corresponding strategies.


The migration motivations that are listed near the top of the motivations table are the most common reasons for adopting the cloud, but they're not necessarily the most significant reasons. These outcomes are important to achieve, but they're most effectively used to transition to other, more useful worldviews. This important first step to cloud adoption often is called a cloud migration. The framework uses the term migrate to refer to the strategy of executing a cloud migration.

Some motivations align well with a migration strategy. The motivations at the top of this list likely will have significantly less business impact than motivations toward the bottom of the list. Top migrations motivations include:

  • Saving on operating costs
  • Reducing vendor or technical complexity
  • Optimizing internal operations
  • Increasing business agility
  • Preparing for new technical capabilities
  • Scaling to meet market demands
  • Scaling to meet geographic demands


Data is the new commodity. Modern applications are the supply chain that drives data into various experiences. In today's business market, it's hard to find a transformative product or service that isn't built on top of data, insights, and customer experiences. The motivations that appear lower in the innovation list align to a technology strategy that's referred to as innovate methodology in this framework.

The following list includes motivations that cause an IT organization to focus more on a strategy to innovate than on a strategy to migrate:

  • Increasing business agility
  • Preparing for new technical capabilities
  • Building new technical capabilities
  • Scaling to meet market demands
  • Scaling to meet geographic demands
  • Improving customer experiences and engagements
  • Transforming products or services

Cloud adoption horizons

It's common for organizations to have competing motivations. But competing motivations create a divide in the financial investments that the company can make in any one objective. Such a divide leads to an overall reduction in the amount of change or transformation that any effort can deliver.

Stratification is a sound principle in macroeconomics. But with the limited budget of most technology-driven change management projects, a stratified approach leads to confusing and distracting signals within the program. More noticeably, multiple, simultaneous investments in competing strategies lead to misalignment of the people, processes, and projects that are required for overall program success. For digital transformations to succeed, organizations must prioritize motivations based on timeline expectations, organizational alignment, and capacity for investment.

To create clarity and alignment, it's suggested that complex digital transformation projects align to an organization's horizons or phased program delivery. In this type of approach, the company commits to a single motivation category for a time-bound period. All teams and organizations prioritize investments and collaborate to support the priority outcome, as needed, for the defined period of time. This approach creates unity, clarity, and drives a snowball effect, allowing the success of one horizon to accelerate the target outcomes of the next horizon.

Cloud adoption strategy tools

Tailwind Traders uses the Cloud Adoption Strategy Evaluator to assess its strategy posture across distinct areas of the Strategy methodology, such as:

  • Identifying motivations
  • Documenting expected business outcomes
  • Evaluating financial considerations
  • Technical considerations in creating a business case.

Based on responses to the assessment questions, the Cloud Adoption Strategy Evaluator navigates you in detail through the categories most relevant to your organization. Personalized to you, according to your inputs for each question, we provide you with an aggregate strategy score—calculated and averaged across your uniquely identified strategy areas.

As you create your cloud adoption plan, and then document your strategy for stakeholder review, you’ll also receive curated guidance that points to specific tools and templates, along with recommendations based on principles of cloud economics and organizational alignment that provide a unified approach to build your business case.

Take the Cloud Adoption Strategy Evaluator assessment.

Tailwind Traders' horizon plan

For Tailwind, a high number of motivations appear in each category of the motivations table. Diverse motivations suggest that the organization has multiple critical business events to address, a need for operational improvements from a migration or modernization, and innovation opportunities:

  • Datacenter exit: The datacenter exit requires significant focus from the central IT and retail innovation teams. The 12- to 18-month time frame to fully plan two datacenter replacements is aggressive but realistic, if there are few distractions.
  • Operational improvements: Accelerating innovation requires modernizing existing operational systems. It also requires modernizing processes that are dedicated to current production environments.
  • Innovation expansion: The long-term objective is to continue to grow and lead the market through innovation. The ultimate goal is to maximize the amount of effort IT invests in innovation overall.

Tailwind's horizons would align to the following target schedule, to be evaluated quarterly:

Horizon Objective Time frame Considerations
1. Migration and modernization Prioritize the datacenter exit with a focus on modern platform as a service (PaaS) solutions over a basic lift-and-shift migration Months 0 - 18 The migration as priority should minimize conflicts with existing innovation commitments
2. Operation modernization Prioritize operational improvements built on cloud-native governance, operations management, security, and compliance capabilities Months 6 - 18 This effort complements and supports the primary migration effort
3. Advanced modernization With post-migration and operational improvements, the team will have sufficient data and cloud skills to perform deeper modernization of complex architectures Months 18-24
4. Innovation and growth Redirect capital reduction from datacenter exits and new skills in central IT to focus on accelerating continued innovation Month 24+ All prior horizons will produce a long list of new innovations as the central IT and retail innovations teams create tighter collaborations and build out automation assets

Record your observations

If you haven't already, download the Cloud Adoption Framework strategy and plan template. Under Motivations and drivers, use the motivations discussion in this unit to describe your motivations.