by Sandra Hamilton

Journey to Your Cloud: Part 2 – Making your case to the business

Apr 13, 2011
IT Leadership

Making your case to the business for cloud transformationPart two… and you are still here! I hope some of the thoughts and the ideas that I shared in my previous post proved useful. My second instalment is for all the CIOs out there that clearly recognize what Cloud can deliver and are now trying to figure out how, in an uncertain economic world, you are going to persuade the business and the CFO to invest in it. Economic uncertainty creates two major problems for anyone looking to implement something new. Firstly, it leads a business to be far more focused on the short term. Even if you can capably demonstrate long term returns – if funding is required in the short term the business is wary to give approval. Secondly there is a far greater aversion to risk and thus anything new or different is usually approached with extreme caution. One way to break down some of these barriers is to divide and conquer. The simple fact is most businesses are not a single entity, but instead a series of independent fiefdoms whose overlords are focused on their own domain rather than the business as a whole. Therefore it is paramount to demonstrate a multitude of carefully conceived benefits to a critical mass of these constituent parts. When the CEO asks his team for their opinion on whether he should make the funds available for a major investment in IT you want the head of HR saying ‘yes – because it will reduce the average cost of recruiting a new employee by 20% and help me get to new talent faster’ or the Sales Director saying ‘yes – it will give my sales team access to more customer intelligence while they’re out on the road so their client meetings will have more impact.’ At the heart of the matter, it’s basically about treating individual departments like clients. You need to understand what they need, what (ideas) they are at least willing to buy into, and clearly demonstrate how the new model can deliver it better and faster. It is also about education. As I mentioned in my previous post there are plenty of business decision-makers out there who think the public cloud model offered by the likes of Google and Amazon could be the definitive answer to all their problems. While it could certainly be the answer to some, if you ask an HR director whether he or she really wants to put sensitive employee data out into the public cloud the answer is most likely “no”. Given time to think about the serious implications of such a move, most will realise it is a lot more complicated than that and fraught with innumerable risk – but we will come on to the issue of security and the role that it plays in defining Cloud strategy later in the series. What we are addressing here is the balance of power when it comes to making IT decisions. A recent report by Gartner predicted that 60% of IT decisions will be made at line of business level by 2016. Finding out what these people want and demonstrating how you can help them will be critical. If the pressure is on costs (which it almost always is) you need to point out that a bunch of disconnected public cloud efforts will not necessarily be cheaper or more effective than a coherent enterprise strategy. Public cloud can deliver cost savings, but are the application functionality and service levels of these providers adequately aligned with diverse business expectations? Does the cloud provider provide the security controls, policies, metrics and transparency you require for effective risk management? Maybe – for some elements of IT – but I would say certainly not for all. The starting point for CIOs to build an actionable and sustainable plan should be plainly obvious — establish the case for cloud transformation, paint a vision for the end-state, and secure a critical mass of sponsorship within the organization among the key business stakeholders. Next time I will be looking a little deeper at the different types of cloud delivery models since getting the mix right for your organisation and IT infrastructure will be critical. By helping the different bits of the business understand what they actually need, you are in a far better position to get this mix right – both in a way that supports them but also in a way that successfully supports you. ——————————————————————————————- EMC has developed a number of valuable and useful assets that can assist you on the journey to your cloud. For more information go to: