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Cloud computing: It's impact on CIOs

Twenty years ago, the CIO was typically characterized as an executive in charge of making sure that a business didn't have it's operations pulled out from underneath it. Today, advances in analytics and the advent of cloud computing are redefining what it means to be the head of a corporation's IT department. It's not about simply choosing whether a public or private cloud is better, it's about determining what solution will drive growth and instigate positive change. 

Adapt or die 
That's a mantra every biological entity has abided by for as long as life has existed. Now, it's an expression that best describes the situation CIOs find themselves facing in the modern business atmosphere. Tom Kaneshinge, a contributor to CIO Magazine, sat down with Michael Keithley, CIO at Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood, California, who said that the age of command-and-control leadership has largely dissipated in the world of cloud and Internet-connected mobile technology. 

Keithley​'s approach to networking, security, storage and employee usage has changed completely. His transition away from the data center and toward cloud servers has also made him a key negotiator in the service level agreement process, a protocol characteristic of Software-as-a-Service (public cloud) vendors. Keithley commented on this shift:

"You really have to understand the business, speak in their language, understand the problems they're trying to solve, what their challenges are," Keithley told Kaneshinge. "You have to have excellent inter-personal communication skills. It'll push and stretch CIOs, especially those comfortable resting on their technical laurels."

A new environment to capitalize on 
There are two words most commonly associated with cloud infrastructure: business growth. PricewaterhouseCoopers cited global payroll process provider ADP's success with a public cloud service. Company CIO Mike Capone informed the source that it was his job to determine how to leverage SaaS to explore opportunities. In a matter of months, ADP realized improved customer access, reduced IT operations costs and drove innovation initiatives. 

For Capone, what it came down to was effectively communicating these benefits to his fellow C-suite professionals. PwC outlined a few points CIOs should make when trying to express the benefits associated with outsourcing to a cloud hosting company.

  • Examine the business's needs and detail which vendors and deployment models (private, hybrid, public) would yield the greatest return on investment. 
  • Regard every application falling under the company's IT arsenal as a cloud candidate - whether it's a customer relationship management tool or a productivity suite.
  • Be optimistic but practical when presenting options to other corporate leaders. 
  • Instead of approaching the situation as how cloud storage can put a risk management strategy in danger, determine how the technology could be used to strengthen it. 
  • As opposed to viewing implementation as a talent management issue, perceive it as a way to enhance the careers of current members of your IT department. 
  • Don't go with what's popular, choose a solution that makes sense and will create a robust enterprise. 

It's evident that the CIO doesn't not belong in the back corner of the executive room, but rather standing alongside the CEO. If companies want to take advantage of cloud computing, then their CIOs should be spearheading the migration with an air of confidence. 

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