Cloud Role Playing: The Changing CIO

cio new role

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) face a challenge in the new world of cloud computing. As a recent InfoWorld article reports, seventy percent of CIOs say the cloud is here to stay and would be adopting more services over the next few years. Nonetheless, many remain ambivalent about the role of the cloud in their business, especially with pressure coming up from IT pros and down from executives.

The CIO Divide

IT admins are often comfortable with the local systems they have in place, and with good reason. Taking the offer of the first cloud provider that comes along is much like buying a car off the lot – chances are, there are better deals to be had –  and IT department heads are right to warn off CIOs about jumping in too fast. Migration is a complex process, and concerns about data lock-in, security and uptime are all valid.

CEOs and CFOs, meanwhile, focused on cutting costs and moving their business forward, often focus on only the positive sides of cloud computing, including agility, flexibility and lowered capital expenditures. As a result, CIOs are put under pressure to find a cloud solution. Fast.

The result is a state of ambivalence, where CIOs feel pressure to increase their reliance on the cloud, but they don’t want to sabotage a working technology infrastructure. Add to this the unsanctioned use of cloud-based, “shadow IT” applications by many employees, and the divide is no surprise.

An Emerging Trend

A January 23rd article at ZDnet discusses recent survey data dealing with cloud adoption, which shows a clear differentiation between executives and CIOs. While execs focused on cost – 80% believed their cloud solution delivered a better value than in-house, only 53% of CIOs agreed, and were instead focused on compliance, competitiveness and strategy. In other words, chief information officers tend to plan for the long game, the big picture; areas that help a business grow over time.

This data helps define the new role of a CIO. Instead of dragging their feet on a cloud adoption, or pushing through an ill-conceived provider agreement, chief intelligence officers can take emerging interest in the cloud – at all business levels – and use it to inform best practices.

Limited cloud adoption, enough to satisfy CEO demands but still remain faithful to IT principles, sets a CIO on the right track, and by embracing the role of intelligent technology proponent can act as a stable middle ground instead of an IT sieve or executive roadblock.

Doug Bonderud is a freelance writer, cloud proponent, business technology analyst and a contributor on the Dataprise website, a provider of Maryland cloud services.

Image by twobee

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