How do innovative CIOs get business value from the cloud?

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LOB teamwork, good vendor partnerships and a full IT review will enable you to get true value from cloud.

The growth and maturity of cloud technologies has placed CIOs in an unprecedented position. Armed with these agile, scalable and cost-efficient infrastructures, IT chiefs are becoming strategic business leaders and innovators - not just the purveyors of technology.

In fact, cloud itself is no longer a discussion simply around data centres, or achieving cost savings. It has become a strategic, business conversation on the back of an important realisation. This is that, when implemented properly, such platforms can help provide customers and employees with exceptional experiences, enable organisations to move faster and act smarter using powerful new data insights. Or, in other words, about being better able to support wider business objectives.

"The word cloud was rarely used," said SGN Director of IT and Innovation Andrew Quail, when describing how he got boardroom support for his cloud strategy. "It was very much about what the IT department needs to do to support broader business strategy.”

However, in order to get the best value from cloud, CIOs must be prepared to work closely with stakeholders across the organisation. Success also lies in going outside the business to build productive vendor relationships. And thirdly, it involves looking within the IT organisation, to analyse the existing IT environment and identify gaps and opportunities that could come about through cloud adoption.

1 Collaborate with LOB leaders

Getting true value from cloud means working across the business. This means listening to and advising line of business (LOB) departments.

It means working with the LOB to understand and reinvent processes. And it also involves working with senior management to identify new business opportunities: ways in which technology can support better working practices and processes.

Cloud gives businesses the opportunity to centralise their data and bring it out of traditional siloes. This enables it to be shared and utilised more effectively across LOB departments. It also makes it easier to drive smart decisions, through tools such as AI, machine learning and data analytics, tools that public cloud service providers now routinely offer to businesses.

No surprise then, that in the 2018 State of the CIO study, 71% of CIOs said that so-called ‘collaborative IT’ (when IT shares oversight to some degree with departments or LOB) had become more frequent over the preceding 12 months – with 80% of LOB leaders now viewing CIOs as strategic business advisers or consultants. This last figure, a significant rise from the 63% reported back in 2017, proves that smart CIOs are delivering on the CEO’s charge to foster better partnerships with LOB leaders.

2 Partnering with trusted vendors

The second way to get true value from cloud is by working with trusted vendors. The leading cloud technology service firms have invested heavily in infrastructure. They’ve also deepened their expertise in areas such as containerisation, and data science, and predictive analytics, all of which are proving invaluable to business.

In addition, today’s public and multicloud environments frequently offer more processing firepower, scalability and cost-efficiency than traditional IT or on-premise cloud. So, working with a trusted vendor to create a hybrid cloud, or migrate applications to the cloud, makes practical sense. Furthermore, managed service providers can even help organisations to identify the best cloud services from the get-go thus ensuring that their cloud projects start off on the right footing.

"Cloud computing represents one of the most misunderstood, yet valuable, innovations in current IT and business strategies"

“Cloud computing represents one of the most misunderstood, yet valuable, innovations in current IT and business strategies,” said Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner fellow, in a Gartner insights whitepaper.

“However, the value of cloud computing is reduced by the inability of many end-user organisations and managed service cloud providers to sort through technology provider cloud options to find the correct mix of cloud and cloud-related capabilities that they need,” says Plummer. “Misaligned expectations will cause many cloud projects to fail.”

Savvy CIOs will, therefore, need to work closely with cloud services vendors to get the best from chosen and across multiple cloud platforms such as AWS, GCP, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud, and to ensure that these work in the future interests of the business. It also means they can move away from firefighting, to investing their time in business growth and innovation.

3 Analysing your IT environment

Thirdly, it is essential to analyse your IT environment to determine which workflows and applications will benefit from a move to the cloud.

Once again, trusted partners can help with cloud migration, redeveloping and optimising applications for the cloud, and deploying container technologies that can provide greater flexibility and openness.

Cloud services from IBM, for example, can help your organisation realise its business objectives by building, deploying and managing workloads in a multicloud environment, integrated with your traditional infrastructure. IBM's expertise and processes will help you build a complete, security-rich solution that creates new value for your business.

To learn more about how you can get business value from the cloud click here to read the IBM whitepaper ‘Avoiding the hidden stumbling blocks of cloud solutions’.

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