The growing impact and importance of cloud computing is enabling CEOs to re-focus on IT from their own perspective: how to bring together the key strategic areas of their business to focus on improvement and success. It requires a subtle change in approach, but one that plays to their strengths.
Most, if not all, CEOs continue to see IT as a crucial operational investment. As a problem-solver, it makes a huge contribution – but also creates its fair share of challenges. Some CEOs even argue that they succeed in spite of IT.
Most CEOs are also realists and recognise that IT departments and their leaders need to spend much of their time just keeping the IT plates spinning, with significant amounts of effort and budget needed to manage perennial challenges such as security and storage.
Increasingly, IT is also being driven by departments which just a few years ago would have had far less input into technology suppliers and procurement.
But cloud is now mature enough to take the key infrastructure challenges away from the IT department. In turn, this allows CEOs to shift mindset and focus on a strategy that isn’t just going to keep the business running, but something much closer to the ideal many have for IT: enhancing business operations.
Changing job spec
The closest many CEOs will get to recruiting IT staff is in the choice of the most senior IT person in the business. Historically, this has often focused on heavy technical knowledge and experience – and has been quite understandable that CEOs should look for those qualities first.
The arrival of enterprise-class cloud services means that CEOs are starting to look for different skillsets from their IT director or CIO/CTO. For a cloud-savvy CEO hiring an IT director, candidates now score no points for knowing how to fix things.
Instead, they want to know their IT director can demonstrate how to improve the business through the use of cloud services and applications, as well as how to achieve the best IT service delivery standards through exceptional supplier and partner management.
At one time or another, most CEOs will have challenged their IT team to deliver a more direct impact to the bottom line of the business. The difficulty lies in achieving such important strategic goals, against a backdrop of tight budgets and daily operational priorities.
First and foremost, IT teams need to ‘keep the lights on’, keep the business operational and active – often dealing with perpetual issues such as security, compliance and device management.
Historically, IT teams were problem solvers. Now, the stars of the IT department can get out into the business and improve key business functions. Cloud offers the opportunity to completely remove the infrastructure delivery and management issues from the in-house team, allowing them to focus on service and application delivery, to think creatively and to apply their skills to business challenges, rather than service and support.
Focus on business improvement
IT has had a revolutionary impact on businesses across every conceivable sector. As technology matured, CEOs began to ask for IT to deliver more than ever before – the difficulty has always been to balance ambition with practical day-to-day realities.
The ubiquitous availability of reliable, proven cloud technology and services means that CEOs need to adopt a different mindset about their own approach to technology and the way their business benefits from it.
Cloud is the glue that can bind together technology and business performance. But to succeed it needs a really progressive operational plan focused on making business better – that kind of emphasis starts with the CEO.
Sourced from Kevin Linsell, Adapt