Having worked to position IT departments as innovation enablers rather than cost centers. Progressive IT executives have continuously struggled to sell the C-suite on the power of digital transformation. Executives view IT as an important function to drive bottom-line results for the organization but a massively expensive department in itself.
Because of the cloud, IT teams are better equipped than ever to prove that they can be an innovation center and dramatically reduce costs of IT. Many CEOs drive their IT executives to seize this opportunity to bring innovative ideas to the table, rather than waiting for the rest of the C-Suite to take the lead. By leading and offering a concrete plan to quickly and securely take advantage of the cloud, CIOs can earn the credibility they need to be seen as strategic players within their organization.
Educating CIOs on the Cloud
Before IT directors can hope to lead their organization into the cloud, they must first educate themselves about what the cloud is and how it differs from on-premise configurations. Despite the growing maturity of cloud platforms and services, we see that many CIOs are the main barrier to cloud adoption. Why? Because they are fearful of off-premises solutions and grapple with the vague notion that business data and applications are “somewhere on the internet.”
As a general trend, many CEOs are pushing CIOs onto the cloud. For example, consider one of our customers that has massive regulatory data storage requirements. Their CEO was ‘pitched’ a deal from a cloud vendor that resulted in a tenfold decrease in their expenses for bulk and archival data. They will save millions of dollars annually. The C-suite signed the cloud storage transaction and told the IT department to determine how to move a petabyte of data to the cloud—with security and compliance. In this case, the CIO lost his job because of his tardiness in considering the massive economies available in the cloud. CIOs need to be Cloud Information Officers and proactively seek cloud offerings.
Bringing the C-suite up to speed on the cloud lays the foundation for changing executive beliefs about the role of technology professionals within the organization. By communicating the cloud’s benefits in terms that resonate with CEOs and CFOs – i.e., lower fixed costs, improved productivity, faster speed to market – business leaders will begin to view IT as innovation enablers, not simply custodians maintaining on-premise systems. This context redefines the traditional paradigm of IT departments. Instead, it highlights their ability to pioneer value-generating initiatives and raise executive awareness of the scope of cloud capabilities available, including private, hybrid, public and multi-cloud environments.
Easing the Transition and Ensuring Data Security
Even when the cloud is on a CEOs or CIOs radar there are hesitations around the security implications of migrating away from traditional on-premise solutions. IT executives can jumpstart their organization’s move to the cloud and prove their credibility as positive change agents by getting ahead of these security concerns.
Education is again crucial – IT managers must help business leaders understand that data security has dramatically evolved from physical protections to digital safeguards. Because of this shift, data in the cloud is often more secure than it was on premise. IT teams should make it clear to business leaders how defenses like multiple layers of encryption and geo distribution secure data stored in the cloud. These measures also help businesses maintain regulatory compliance, another rising concern for C-suites and boards across industries.
Earning Executive Buy-In
Business leaders are often understandably hesitant to invest in advanced technology, especially if they don’t understand how it will concretely benefit the organization. IT managers need to go beyond simply explaining the technology and show the C-suite its effects.
Elevating the IT department’s reputation within an organization has been an uphill battle. But today, cloud migration presents an opportunity for IT managers to win the trust of their executive team by demonstrating the financial, compliance and competitive benefits it can deliver. Executives shouldn’t feel that they’re the ones coming up with the next big idea; IT must take the lead to the cloud.
About the Author: Michael Gaffney is the CEO of Leonovus, a cloud solutions software provider that offer a leading software-defined object storage solution (SDOSS) and governance, compliance and risk management (GCR) solution for modern enterprises.