It’s fair to say that Cloud computing presents both a great opportunity, and a significant challenge, to CIO’s looking to develop IT and business strategies for the next two to five years. Cloud computing will have a significant and long-term impact on the way businesses consume IT resources, not least because it could change both who provides those resources and how they are delivered.
In fact, it will change the way businesses use IT in much the same way that the mobile computing is changing the way we, as individuals, communicate faster, more chaotic and highly distributed. These changes will happen in unpredictable ways, rarely when we expect them, and often with unforeseen consequences.
One of the great business benefits of cloud is that it accelerates the way an organization can define, identify and consume IT resources- which in turn accelerates the business capacity to respond to market trends and opportunities.
In short, it decentralizes and accelerates the way that IT usage will evolve within the business. That might be good for some aspects of the business, but it presents challenges for CIOs wanting to define and optimize IT strategies to present that draw on efficiencies of scale that are better business aligned. Specifically, if every part of the business now feels empowered to go and source some portion of their own IT resources through multiple cloud providers, CIOs will have a hard time defining anything, least of all a plan to eliminate inefficiencies and duplication. Simply tracking IT usage may become impossibility.
However, CIOs are also looking at Cloud to present a better way to
deliver what the business needs, faster, and in the way the business needs it. Cloud could redefine the delivery of IT resources in much the same way that just-in-time redefined the way organizations thought about supply chain management.
By providing guidance, policies and expertise down to the business units, and presenting a well-managed framework within which to operate, successful CIOs will be able to cement the role of IT far more firmly within the business processes they serve than perhaps has been possible before- but in a way that is very different from that role today.
It’s too early to fully appreciate how the emergence of Cloud technologies will change the way businesses address their technology needs, and it’s likely that predictions based on our current understanding will miss the mark both on the scale and the way in which changes occur. However it’s not too early for CIOs to begin to think about how to integrate Cloud delivery methods in the way they enable business users to meet their goals, and to start to offer guidance and expertise in the use of Cloud resources. Cloud is already changing the both lexicon and the expectations around business IT usage; it’s vital that CIOs now engage in the dialogue, and set the ground rules for the