Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fear, uncertainty, and cloud

I recently read an article entitled CIOs fear business leaders see cloud as way to circumvent IT (h/t to Jon Reed who h/t'd Vijay Vijayasankar) and I was floored.

What Sooraj wrote was:
The study says CIOs are concerned that cloud provides business teams with a way around IT teams by acquiring cloud services on their own, which undermines the strategic partnership they are trying to build with business leaders.
But what I read was:
With lines of business increased control over IT spending and IT's complete inability to meet the needs of the modern business in a timely and pleasant fashion, here's just one more reason why I fear not only for the office of the CIO generally but for my job specifically.
I find that more than a little disheartening -- I've long said that working like you fear for your job is the best way to do a terrible job. That said, everyone's got kids to feed, so how does IT survive this "whole cloud thing" and leave the business better off to boot?

  1. Manage these cloud connections internally. Dominic Wellington recommended this at the end of the article, and rightly so. Lines of business don't want to manage their cloud services or anything else technology-related, but often they must in order to get things done. Managing cloud services needs to have some policy and procedures around it certainly, but taking 3 months to get around to filling out a web form that takes 5 minutes isn't going to cut it.
  2. Make everything simpler. Whether it's Steve Jobs talking about saying "no" to lots of things, or Vishal Sikka talking about removing layers, it isn't hard to find smart people willing to talk about taking complexity out of your business as a good thing (when done thoughtfully, anyway). Doing extra things can be dumb. Tactically employing "the cloud" can help you do less dumb things. 
  3. Take this opportunity to restructure IT intelligently. An investment in the cloud doesn't have to just transform the way your company does business, it can also transform the way you deliver services to your business. As a company moves to the cloud, it probably needs less pure-developers for day-to-day operations and should invest in skills such as security and configuration. This will also allow your best developers to move onto more interesting and fulfilling opportunities, like mobile development, and your less good ones to do something... less developer-y.
The cloud has put CIOs on notice, as well it should have, but being put on notice and being doomed aren't necessarily the same thing. Like with most things, proactivity is the key. Embracing the cloud now may prevent it from putting you in a choke-hold later.

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