Why CIOs need to be strong in picking a cloud strategy – and sticking to it

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.


This time last year, Fruition Partners, an IT solutions provider, released a report which assessed the state of cloud adoption through the eyes of the CIO. The study bemoaned the rise of shadow IT and gave three best practice tips to control cloud sprawl, by focusing on the user to provide a better service, focusing on business needs, and focusing on IT strategy and how to make better use of IT service management (ITSM).

12 months on and, to quote Led Zeppelin, the song remains the same. 62% of respondents in this year’s report said there were cloud apps being used in the business without knowledge of IT, while almost three quarters (73%) said there was ‘significant’ financial wastage associated with cloud adoption when IT are not involved.

So what needs to be done, and why have things not changed? Paul Cash, UK managing partner at Fruition Partners, which was bought by CSC late last year, argues that despite this year’s offering including insight from US CIOs, the pattern is worrying. “The landscape has changed very little in the last 12 months; we’d expected that with the continued growth in cloud, businesses would have put in place clearer parameters for control,” he tells CloudTech.

The issue with the rise in shadow IT, Cash argues, is the continued antagonism between business and IT; the ‘us and them’ mentality. “Many workers do not feel the IT department understands what digital tools they need, which is why countless employees do not go to the IT department when it comes to procuring cloud services but go it alone,” he says.

“This underlines the fact that CIOs need to get closer to the rest of the business and build relationships with key stakeholders; ensuring they are supporting staff to use technology that lets them work productively, but safely,” adds Cash.

So while the report assesses things from the employees’ perspective – more than two thirds (68%) reportedly do not feel the need to consult IT when procuring cloud services – should more of the spotlight be put closer to home?

A major report released by Harvey Nash and KPMG in May assessed the current and future role of the CIO, arguing that while in the main executives are moving away from the ‘keep the lights on’ mentality, the need for greater technical expertise and the need to work alongside other stakeholders in the C-suite was pushing the job role forward.

“There is a real need for CIOs to be strong in having a cloud strategy, and sticking to it; ultimately, it is up to the CIO to either say no, or to demonstrate how the business can procure and adopt cloud safely,” says Cash. “CIOs will need to possess the qualities that allow them to negotiate and operate at all levels – in order to form broader relationships with all of the business, as well as just the IT department.”

With regard to this year’s report, there has been at least some change. We’ve all heard stories of enterprises with incredible amounts of IT duplication when a bit of clear-headedness would have saved time and money; the 2015 report referenced one company in the construction sector with 300 copies of a cloudy project management tool for 200 employees. But are we still going around in circles?

“The three takeaways – users, business needs, strategy – are still the core areas CIOs need to focus on,” admits Cash. “It’s tough to predict, given things move so quickly in technology and business, but we’d hope next year the results show an improvement in how CIOs are managing cloud alongside their in-house services.”

Read more: Why CIOs cannot 'blindly trust' public cloud services in their organisation

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