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How IT can regain ownership of cloud computing

At the board of directors’ meeting, the CEO is presenting the forecast for the next year. This time, he or she is discussing the use of cloud-based technology to launch a new product, including the ability to use this technology as a “force multiplier” and a platform to launch new products and/or services that will change the industry, increase shareholder value, and just make the company current.

The CIO is just sitting there, looking sad. It seems that many businesses have seen what we’ve known for years: that cloud computing is a game-changing technology that will become strategic to many types of businesses. Because it’s strategic, the control of the cloud strategy is removed from the CIOs (and IT in general) and placed in the hands of the CEOs, COOs, CMOs, and CFOs. How did CIOs let that happen, given their longstanding desire to be strategic?

The reason is simple: Many CIOs did not place the proper value on cloud computing as a disruptive technology, and many even pushed back on it. To be fair to those CIOS, their budgets were not increased and without resources IT had to place the cloud down the priority list—immediate needs trumped future possibilities.

Cloud computing is well known as technology that lets businesses punch above their weight class and disrupt their markets. And enough consultants and other strategic thinkers have been by the CEO’s office to convince him or her of this purpose. Moreover, there are dozens of examples of small and mid-sized disrupters in the market that have taken the online movie business, ride-share, and even automobile manufacturing to a level where they are changing their industries forever.

So, you can put cloud computing in the category of strategic disruptive technology that can make or break a business. As such, and because some CIOs have done little with cloud in the last few years, it’s been taken away and put in the hands of product or service development and marketing organizations. Corporate IT is relegated to work on legacy systems, keeping the networks running, and the laptops supported. They are no longer the “cool kids.” despite a brief period of being cool and strategic in the 2000s.

So, if you’re in IT, how can you head this off? Easy: You need to be innovative and proactive, or others will do it for you. This means fighting for budget and have a well-developed and defined use of cloud technology that reaches into all strategic organizations. Corporate management will then view IT as cloud thought leaders and experts, and defer to you to drive strategy. Funding is sure to follow, and you’ll go from passive participant in the board meetings to someone who gets applause and a big raise. If you want to be a driver, you have to drive.

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