Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Inflection Point to Cloud

The trend to the cloud is shaping the new mindset to run IT and business.

The transition to cloud solutions is inevitable. We're hitting an inflection point where businesses are moving from traditional industrial IT environments to digital cloud-based environments. But how can IT leaders embrace the opportunity and prepare for such challenge?

Start with big WHY: The message needs to be complemented with why moving into the cloud is important & inevitable for CIOs. In terms that CIOs can truly relate to, why moving into the cloud is such a potential game-changer for Corporate IT. What is compelling is that adopting the cloud can enable Corporate IT to focus more on being a strategic partner to the business, by bridging the Business-Technology divide and applying technology to help drive business objectives, rather than being mired in IT operations and executable tasks. Private, Public, Hybrid – Understanding the different values, obstacles, intricacies, etc. is the key to utilizing this new technology trend and, in fact, any new technology. What are the needs of your business? What are the legacy dependencies? A lack of innovation can cripple any organization - but in order to innovate, you have to know and understand your own weaknesses and strengths.

Orchestrate a holistic cloud strategy: There are both on the need for the CIO to be proactive about the move to the cloud, and for the critical need to train IT teams to be business teams - that really communicate and deliver business value. That's critical for the move to the cloud – orchestrate a holistic cloud strategy, but push the cloud envelope step-by-step. Cloud solutions could be the way to minimizing the cost of core business and maximizing the availability of your IT services, but be careful on this way - not all troubles could be resolved using escape to the cloud. Cloud isn't a silver bullet and in some cases, the transition to the cloud will bring you more headache than advantages. Therefore, a well-crafted strategy will help organizations lead toward cloud with confidence and preparation.

The mindset between running IT on-premise vs. in the cloud is definitely different:, CIOs & senior IT management need to anticipate and manage the "change management" aspect of the transition. The trend to the cloud is shaping the new mindset to run IT and business. There are needs for new knowledge, skills and tools, should you gain it from training or other approaches. We can't ignore IT trends, and moving to the cloud implies driving many changes in an organization and the CIO and IT professionals must be trained for this. With increased usage of cloud-based technologies and convergence of corporate and personal data, there have to be whole new thought processes for data security and governance. Today organizations have a selective approach that needs to take additional awareness of what cloud based tech is needed; you also can't lose sight of its cost -- Each initiative should carefully weigh all factors before assuming that cloud based is the way to go. CIOs with good business sense must use their technical folks (who may not be business-minded) to ask the right technical questions before a migration to a cloud platform occurs. To say that IT staff must become more business minded at the expense of their technical acumen is short-sighted. We need good technical people to stay technical and ask the right questions of the cloud vendors.

Negotiation and contract management. It’s up to CIO’s understanding and capability to face and address the challenges. On one hand, every IT project is a business project, business buy-in is crucial for project success; on the other hand, it could imply a more hands on, a technical-centric focus that such shift will bring. There are two additional skills needed to make this transitions are negotiation and contract management. Moving anything outside the organization requires careful consideration, internal and external negotiation, and close ongoing management of the services and level of services contracted and being delivered. CIOs who focus only on the business case may lack the skills to properly vet cloud solutions and cause tremendous harm to their organizations by working with a vendor who does not deliver what is promised.

The Cloud is the future of IT. CIO's that grasp this and move toward it will be ahead of the curve. And a cloud-ready, business-oriented CIO can play in organizations today is like the proverbial forest not being seen through the trees. Cloud deployments lead to new opportunities and alleviate staff shortages that exist. Change is natural, embrace it; don't get run over by it. “You can be the subject of a strategic inflection point, or you can be the cause of one.”  - Andrew Grove 


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