The 2013 CIO Forum & Excutive IT Summit in Charlotte, NC was a great event. Seldom do you get to rub elbows with top company C-Level executives, and less often do you get to hear what they really think about the most pressing matters in IT today.
Cloud computing was the over riding theme of almost every presentation and discussion. I can paraphrase the cloud conversations pretty simply, “It’s not a question of if, but rather how to adopt cloud successfully.”
All agreed that cloud computing is transforming their industries. Competition is at an all time high, and cloud computing (when done well) is indeed a game changer. Not my words, theirs.
Within this context, the most surprising thing was how many CIOs, VPs, and directors agreed on a couple of success factors.
- IT isn’t ready for cloud. It has nothing to do with security. The issue isn’t technical either. It’s social. For example, one of the most discussed sessions described 12 success factors CIOs indicated as required for cloud success. These 12 items were arrived via consensus of CIOs at high performing firms. Here’s what was so interesting to me: just one was technology related. The other 11 were leadership and business skills. Those “doing cloud” are learning that cloud isn’t about technology; it’s a business model. Further, CIOs need a mix of leadership and business skills more than they need technical training. This means transforming their workforce in terms of recruitment and retention.
- Silos are still present and it’s a real problem with regards to cloud success. There was a great discussion on “tearing silos down.” I brought up that we need to build them up and reinforce them, and will always need them. CIOs of global brands agreed with me. A great comment was the absolute need to maintain and reinforce silos within IT, but remove the “white space” between groups. In other words, build bridges between silos and teams vs. “tearing them down.” This is precisely the issue and solution presented in number one.
- Just as IT staff needs to learn about leadership and business, business professionals need a similar IT awareness. Poor decision making by business professionals result in no-win situations for IT (and the business), reinforcing an interesting point made by several CIO’s: business-IT alignment is out! The business is IT and vice versa. Business teams need to understand the possibilities of cloud computing, its pros and cons, and what is reasonable to request. Most importantly is the idea of choosing a provider wisely and in the context of existing systems (that aren’t going away.) This requires leadership and business skills that are missing within IT.
Well, I’ve just got to say that I feel totally vindicated! Leadership and business skills are what a transformation requires, and cloud is without a doubt a total transformation of IT and the business.