Cloud computing is driving change in all aspects of business, large and small. Some of the most common uses include dev/test, data archiving, storage, and disaster recovery. Everyone is familiar with SaaS players such as Salesforce and Workday and storage options such as Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, and Dropbox. Cloud-based collaboration tools such as Mikogo and Vyew are proliferating as well.
The days of putting in a service request and waiting three weeks to get what you want are over. For the business to keep its competitive edge, IT has to deliver resources to employees and customers in a matter of days if not hours. Take HP: to interact more nimbly with customers and release products and services faster, we’ve transformed the company, for ourselves and our customers. “Today, IT is poised to shake up even more industries,” says HP CEO Meg Whitman.
If you had a chance to document your current IT processes, the odds are good that you’d see a lot of manual steps. And the diagram would likely be described as components, networks, applications, and operations, a standard pattern for enterprise IT. However, to keep pace with growing business needs, IT must instead focus on providing services, not components, and delivering them via cloud in an automated fashion. By doing so, IT can save money, operate more efficiently, and react more nimbly to shifting business demands.
As businesses respond to the growing pressures of global demand and increased competition, the skills required for IT staff are changing. Don’t think that change is only for the CIO. Whether you’re the VP of applications, a database administrator, or a help desk expert, your role is shifting whether you like it or not. Each IT role needs to broaden its focus to include business goals. Perhaps there is a need for newly created IT roles in the new world. IT staff now need to act as providers of hybrid IT services, including cloud and legacy applications.
The debate over shadow IT is like a three-man standoff in a spaghetti Western. On one side you have the business leaders and developers, who view external cloud resources as a quick and inexpensive way to get a project up and running. On the other you have IT, who feels it’s losing control when the business turns to external service providers. And in the middle you have the CIO, who faces pressure to meet the needs of the business, but who also has to weigh the risks involved with using an external service provider.
To paraphrase the Neil Young song, rust never sleeps, and neither do your competitors. An expanding global marketplace has generated more pressure on the business to create a competitive advantage, whether it’s to grow revenue, increase profit, or reduce internal costs. In turn, business leaders are asking the CIO to use technology to help them gain that advantage. The CIO’s new mantra is, how can I help drive the business forward?