Armed with the unique position of being involved in both the IT side of a business and the C-suite leadership sector, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has the cross-department tools and insider knowledge required to move a company successfully into an enterprise-wide digital strategy. One major element in this initiative that can especially benefit from more hands-on CIO involvement: the adoption of cloud computing.
Heralded as an innovative, cost-cutting alternative to traditional, on-premise legacy systems, the cloud is enticing business leaders across industries to make the move, migrating data and processes away from in-house hardware and onto digital, third-party-controlled virtual platforms. Yet, many are failing to realize the depth and breadth of benefits promised by such a transformative shift, and for one primary reason—a lack of cohesion and coordination among teams as they each learn to adapt to the new, cloud-based environment. Possessing both a deep understanding of the processes and best practices that keep a company turning, as well as a position of executive leadership and authority, the CIO is perfectly positioned to bridge this gap and help fuel a more seamless—and successful—path to cloud adoption.
The Value of Coordination—CIO Insights Lead to Cohesive Cloud Strategies
While cloud-based solutions have the potential to provide cost savings and organizational benefits, the reality is that for businesses to reap these profits, existing systems must be disengaged and retired first—otherwise, companies can continue servicing and supporting two sets of systems performing essentially the same actions—driving up costs, complexities, and user frustration—without any sort of comprehensive strategy in place. Migrating processes onto new platforms in a manner that reduces system redundancy, enhances usability, eliminates information silos, and creates a significant competitive advantage requires insight into how each system works, what its intended goals are, how its used by the organization, and its roadmap for the future—exactly the vision and perception provided by the CIO.
Another roadblock to successful cloud implementation is a lack of technical knowledge around the cloud itself, resulting in an inability to navigate the myriad tools on the market available to help companies leverage its functionality. While business managers are often impressed by the sleek interfaces and flexible pricing structures offered by cloud-based systems, many lack the technical skill set to see the implementation through completely, resulting in a solution that fails to meet its business transformation potential. Again, the CIO is the answer to this challenge, as he or she is not only highly familiar with existing infrastructure, but has the technical certifications and background required to ensure the solution is integrated strategically to grow ROI and increase system value. One example of this is the business manager’s tendency to focus strictly on software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud applications, whereas the CIO may find that infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or even platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions are more suitable to fulfill company goals and establish market differentiation.
Today’s CIOs: Leaders in Digital Strategy and IT Control
To fulfill their roles as both IT leaders and company-wide change-makers, CIOs are seeing a role shift, moving away from their position as strictly IT guardians and data overseers toward a more universal space that combines both hands-on, technical expertise and corporate guidance. Today’s CIO is a businessperson, capable of bending the ear—and listening to—sales, marketing, HR, and finance teams to determine their pain points, issues, and challenges to better address how the cloud can help solve them. In addition, he or she is now the leader of not only short-term IT purchases and integrations, but of the entire, enterprise-wide digital strategy.
To perform such duties, CIOs must be able to convince disparate teams to eliminate their individual cloud implementations in favor of a more unified, single solution that will bridge together—not divide—employees and simplify IT vendor management. As a result of this solidarity, not only will costs be cut, but CIOs are better positioned to identify and evaluate current applications to determine exactly which cloud computing service model—SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS—is best suited for each, strategically crafting a digital rollout designed to help systems work smarter, together, and more effectively than ever before. At the helm of this transformation, the CIO is the linchpin for success—not only outlining the company’s digital roadmap, but also steering the wheel.
“Why Businesses Need CIOs Today More Than Ever,” OracleVoice, Forbes, July 7, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2016/07/07/the-time-for-a-cio-comeback-is-now/#13e812b231e8.