CEO and Co-Founder,

As a co-founder and CTO, I talk to a lot of businesses about digital transformation. Today, that means moving everything to the cloud.

I often hear business leaders say, “First, I want to move our ERP system to the cloud and then we will start thinking about moving the data to the cloud.” This is the wrong strategy.

Yes, you should move your ERP system to the cloud—absolutely. But migrating your data first is a much better strategy. Here’s why.

Time-to-Value Matters

Migrating data to the cloud is relatively quick and easy. It’s a project that should take no more than a few days. Moving your ERP system, on the other hand—or any other operations system, for that matter—can take months or even years.

Because you depend on these systems to run the business, you have to plan their migration very carefully. You have to be thoughtful about change management, as well. It is a very big undertaking and the stakes are high.

The last thing you want is your data getting tied up in this process. Instead, spend a few days migrating your data to the cloud first. That way, you at least have the option to do useful and productive things with the data while you wait for business systems to cross the divide.

Data Analytics and AI: The Perfect Cloud Use Cases

Analytics and AI are two of the most useful and productive things you can do with data. Both are also perfect use cases for data in the cloud.

Why? Because data analytics and AI consume huge amounts of processing power—typically in short bursts. That’s problematic when you operate on-premises: You need to manage costs, but there’s no way to predict when important questions will come or what they will be. You have to keep machines on standby and ready to spin up at a moment’s notice.

That’s not the case in the cloud, where elasticity is instant and infinite. In fact, the cloud is the perfect environment for running data analytics. Why wait to put it to work?

Cloud is a Safer Place to Store Data

These days, the cloud is more secure than local storage systems by a long shot. Network connectivity is extremely reliable and big cloud vendors offer enterprise-grade assurances for security, compliance, disaster recovery and availability. Select a cloud platform that ensures row-level data security and the transition will be even safer and more reliable for your organization.

What’s more, with all of the big cloud providers focusing on block storage these days, it now costs next to nothing to store what essentially amounts to unlimited volumes of data—automatically backed up and encrypted.

If companies realized how much they could save on disk costs, that alone would justify the move to cloud. Managing disks on-premises is an expensive process. The only reason companies spend so much money on it, though, is because losing the data is not an option. Lose the data, lose the company.

With data in the cloud, companies don’t have to worry about how much data they should keep anymore. Instead, it’s simple: Keep it all—every last bit.

Open Standards, Freedom to Innovate

One of the most exciting advances in cloud data storage in recent years is the proliferation of open standard file formats like Arrow, ORC and Parquet. With the arrival of these new formatting options, we are in the early days of a new era of interoperability and innovation.

In the past, every data system had its own unique language and formatting. This made it extremely difficult to access and analyze data across systems, which is problematic because that’s where the most interesting and valuable insights are often discovered.

Not anymore. Thanks to open standard file formats, all of the systems you migrate into the cloud will operate on one central data repository in one single format. You can plug new systems into it and start doing interesting things with the data without needing to move it all the time. Essentially, you can create a data hub for all systems, which is hugely valuable. It’s also a powerful springboard for innovation.

And therein lies the most important point: Cloud migration alone is not enough to proclaim true digital transformation as a company. You also have to embrace the powerful new, cloud-native features and capabilities enabled by this technology.

The sooner you migrate your data, the sooner you can start experimenting.