Cloud3 min read

How FinOps Skills Can Deliver Cloud Value

Martin Hosken
How the rise of Finops delivers cloud value

The cloud debate has shifted. Once dominated solely by speed, scale and cost control, which are still important to any cloud strategy, it is now about delivering cloud value.

With IT budgets tighter than ever, establishing the fastest route to cloud value allows tech teams to deliver maximum impact and effectively demonstrate to senior stakeholders why the investment is so important.

But in order to do this, organisations require individuals with FinOps skills – those who can efficiently manage cloud services, demonstrating deep technical expertise, but also translate the cloud into a language that other departments can understand.

And that’s why FinOps talent is now in high demand. Our research shows that 9-in-10 European businesses see FinOps skills as instrumental in the cloud innovation race, while 85 per cent are actively recruiting this talent. In turn, we’re seeing a new hiring trend appear, as the race to deliver cloud value brings this skills combination away from IT vendors and onto the customer side.

The bridge to deliver cloud value

Almost a third of all live job postings for cloud experts from end-user organisations now list typical FinOps skills, such as an advanced understanding of economics, accountancy or data analytics, as a key requirement for the role. While our research shows that 84 per cent of European businesses are now hiring more individuals with experience in finance and economics into cloud roles than they were three years ago.

But traditionally cloud financial management, or FinOps, existed as a department within major IT consultancies and vendors. Why?
• With cost control being crucial to cloud strategies in recent years, these specialists have helped customers to establish policies and programmes to encourage teams to be financially responsible when making decisions in the cloud.
• This department helped drive organisation-wide accountability for cloud costs and alignment with broader business goals.

These skills are now being brought in-house as organisations recognise that delivering cloud value rests upon more than speed or cost optimisation.

While they may reside in cloud teams, these individuals have a cross-function role. With skills in, say, data analysis and communication, FinOps talent can show senior stakeholders how the cloud can deliver immediate value.

For example, they can identify and replace under-utilised infrastructure and show why multi-cloud platforms can maximise their resources for long-term returns and better customer experiences.

But this skillset lends itself to the employee experience too. In human resources and payroll, in particular, FinOps talent can audit existing systems and demonstrate where cloud’s value can best be felt. This could be in salary automation, instant payments, or optimising storage to hold and analyse employee data.

Barriers to hiring FinOps talent

Kingston University continuously strives to innovate, analyse, and manage data to shape its educational offering and student experience, and this is becoming driven by its cloud smart strategy. To help maintain this academic excellence, however, the university is focused beyond simply controlling costs. Partnering with providers, like Xtravirt, AWS and VMware, the University is transitioning to a cloud value focus, ensuring the reach and impact of the technology is felt by the whole organisation. For example, cloud native services are facilitating their ability to innovate by exploring emerging technologies such as data analytics with machine learning and AI.

But this is not yet a universal experience and many organisations across Europe, despite their intentions, are not where they need to be with their cloud hires. Our research shows:
• 35 per cent of European chief technology officers cited budget constraints as the biggest barrier to onboarding this talent.
• A further 29 per cent said that it’s due to senior stakeholders being unable to understand the return on investment of these skills.
• Other key hiring managers, like chief information officers and IT directors pointed to a greater focus on technical proficiency and experience within new hires (33 per cent and 24 per cent respectively).

Given just 12 per cent of European businesses stated that the biggest barrier to onboarding these skills was the scarcity of talent, it’s clear that the opportunity is there to access and hire these individuals into cloud teams. For businesses who are desperate to be able to maximise their ability to deliver cloud value, they must look to navigate these hiring challenges. It’s how they will maintain their competitive edge and continue to find ways to innovate despite economic pressures.

Deliver cloud value no matter the budget

The race is on for companies to find and employ FinOps talent to deliver rapid cloud value. The skillset is nascent enough within end-user organisations for early adopters to see tangible value. Those that move quickly will find that senior stakeholders are soon bought into the cloud journey and understand its returns. In accelerating the time to cloud value, the FinOps skillset directly supports multi-cloud strategies and the drive towards cloud maturity.