Like most human capacities, IT capabilities do not come in only two varieties: good or bad. They exist on a continuum of proficiency. When you are just starting out on your digital transformation strategy you won’t be a hero at everything. But you can get better at the things you choose to develop your proficiency in and progress across the continuum from zero to hero.

In many ways, this is no different from other aspects of life. We can’t start out great at everything. We have to pick the things we are going to get better at and focus on them. I’m not the best at some things. I can’t throw a football like Tom Brady. He’s a hero. I’m probably not a zero at throwing a football – but I could get better with focus and execution.

I talked about this zero-to-hero continuum at the recent Gartner Symposium as it applies to cloud strategy, and I think the basic ideas are worth sharing with a broader audience. When I talk to customers about their cloud plans, their goal is, of course, to be a hero. But many aren’t sure what that means or how to get there.

Many organizations think they have a plan, but they often are just throwing applications randomly up into a public cloud with no priority or standards. That is not a true plan and, to their credit, they often recognize that by the time we talk.

The truth is that zeroes do not become heroes in one step. You need a plan with specific goals and metrics.

To get to a plan, we often start by breaking a cloud strategy into its components. And it’s in those smaller segments of strategy and execution that people can start seeing places where they can develop proficiency and we can set targets for what it means to get better in meaningful ways.

A mature cloud strategy is a life cycle with four stages: planning, deployment, operation and optimization. Being active in each stage of the life cycle never ends for the cloud hero, but each stage offers its own path for getting better. Going from zero to hero just in planning or deployment, for instance, is a great accomplishment and can build credibility with lines of business personnel or the C suite.

Taking this life-cycle approach gives you a way to set a course forward and evaluate your own progress. Once you’re up and running, solutions such as CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager provide a means to deploy, manage, monitor and evaluate applications across any cloud. Cloud Application Manager provides the ability to automate delivery, deployment, maintenance and the security of cloud environments. The combination of Cloud Application Manager, CenturyLink Managed Services, and a full-service portfolio of cloud platforms gives organizations the tools to help navigate the entire cloud journey.

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I invite you to watch my full presentation from the Gartner Symposium here. And give a shout-out to the brave soul willing to admit to being a “zero” at one stage.

Then, take the next step and sign up for an executive strategy session and we’ll apply these ideas to your specific challenges.

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