Many of us today are thinking about the cloud and what it might mean to the future.\u00a0 Yet as we\u2019ve pondered cloud technology, it has gone from an intriguing concept to an absolute inevitability.\u00a0 In fact, it has gotten to the point that if by 2020, an IT leader is not an expert in leveraging the cloud, that person may not have a job.\u00a0\nWhen we step back and take a look at the past decade, it has been an avalanche in terms of how the IT landscape has changed.\u00a0 Even though the iPad has seemingly been around forever, it only debuted as a viable business platform in 2010.\u00a0 Amazon Web Services (AWS) wasn\u2019t a fully capable cloud services company before 2013, and Microsoft\u2019s Azure didn\u2019t take off until a year later (remember BPOS?).\nThere is big change to the driver behind the rapid technology changes we\u2019ve seen so recently.\u00a0 In the 1990s and 2000s, the stampede towards new technology was based largely on the potential that it offered.\u00a0 Web services were important because ecommerce promised a much faster, more personal relationship with customers.\u00a0 Smartphones and mobility software were in high demand because the concept of moving business from the office into the field was so intriguing.\u00a0 Yet it was this same drive towards tech that created the concept that IT was a literal \u201cblack hole\u201d that could eat as much money as you could throw at it and still return nothing of value.\u00a0\nEnter the CFO\nThe most basic rule of power in any organized body of people is best described by the (modern) Golden Rule: \u201cWhoever holds the purse strings will eventually call the shots.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0\nAs cloud providers began to really stabilize operations, a powerful business proposition emerged.\u00a0 Instead of spending millions of dollars on powerful servers and storage arrays, companies could now rent the experience of them without actually buying the physical infrastructure.\u00a0 When business leaders determined that they could essentially \u201cget the milk without buying the cow,\u201d ancillary investments in data center facilities also declined rapidly.\u00a0 In the real world, why would you need to build that eight-million-dollar facility when all the equipment it would house had been virtualized?\u00a0\nA CFO may not be trained as a technologist, but you can rest assured that she understands financial concepts.\u00a0 With Amazon and its competitors offering viable IT infrastructure and resources for 70 percent less total cost of ownership than the traditional on premise approach, IT leaders have been put on notice.\u00a0 Move, sensibly and quickly, to the cloud or we\u2019ll find someone or something to replace you.\u00a0 The \u201cthing\u201d in this case usual means a third party integrator.\u00a0\nIs it really too late?\nIf you\u2019re an IT leader who hasn\u2019t been quite able to fully embrace the cloud, are you truly in jeopardy?\u00a0 The answer, of course, depends on how your value is perceived by the peer leadership of your organization.\u00a0 A great relationship with the CEO is always a valuable commodity, but that will only buy you so much time.\u00a0 If you don\u2019t feel the urgency, consider some anecdotes that will evolve into fact as the decade closes out.\u00a0\n1. Application development and maintenance work is now completely commoditized.\u00a0 If you are investing heavily in internal talent to manage your application portfolio, a specialist firm from the outside can do it for half the cost (and still turn a profit).\n2. Every significant software vendor is completely abandoning the sale of licenses in favor of a subscription model.\u00a0 If you haven\u2019t noticed this trend, check the five-year roadmap of the vendors in your portfolio.\u00a0 Do you need internal staff to manage subscriptions in the same way that you used to manage physical software and licenses?\n3. The lines between business and consumer computing devices have blurred.\u00a0 People are now using the same equipment for all aspects of their lives.\u00a0 This is the end of the era of personal computers (PCs).\u00a0 What happens to your desktop technician staff?\n4. Spending on information security to protect assets and data moving to the cloud is THE story of the decade.\u00a0 As Steve Morgan of Forbes states,\u00a0information security spend in 2015 was $75 Billion.But that\u2019s \u201cchump change\u201d compared to 2020 when it will be almost $200 Billion.\n5. Software vendors, just like the NFL, will be forced to sell products \u201con demand\u201d.\u00a0 These companies have attempted to halfheartedly embrace the subscription model by simply changing 3-5 year contracts for 3-5 year subscriptions.\u00a0 However, consumers will force them to drop the temporal commitments.\u00a0\nIf you\u2019re an IT leader not already well on your way to fully embracing the cloud, you know that the clock is already ticking.\u00a0 Being an IT leader as we move into the next decade will not be for the faint of heart.