IT decision makers are having a moment. Enterprises are in a time of tremendous change, evolution, and possibility that’s not for the faint of spirit.
Forrester Researcher VP and Principal Analyst James Staten has remarked that the role of the IT professional is no longer about controlling everything — which isn’t even a possibility anymore — but rather that IT leaders should shoot to be “the translators between IT and business.”
Two re-imagined aspects of the traditional enterprise that arguably embody these changes more than any others are private cloud computing and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. It perhaps explains why to learn about one is to hear constant echoes of the other. Both represent 180-degree changes to once-central tenets, are sometimes met with resistance and, once accepted, can deliver outcomes well beyond expectations.
While keeping a focus on the cloud, it’s worthwhile to more deeply consider three pieces of advice that may be applied to either trend. Who knows — change your thinking once, and you may wind up benefitting twice.
One: It’s unstoppable; there’s no use fighting it.
Just as applications have become central to the mobile consumer experience, so have they become intrinsic to enterprises, and private clouds offer the best control yet. They make apps simpler to manage and update, offer smarter views into how they’re performing, and can cull actionable analytics from them.
“According to our surveys, the majority of enterprises are planning to build private clouds over the next few years,” Gartner VP Tom Bittman says in a video on the research firm’s site. “Their goal is that they’ll be achieving faster deployment of services … and reducing their costs.”
Bittman adds that private cloud “is not something to ignore,” as its effects extend beyond IT to the business. He explains: “Businesses are looking for new ways, new techniques, to increase their speed and their agility, and private cloud can deliver that.”
Two: A shift in the organization’s cultural mindset is required and shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Internet changed the way people communicate and interact with information. The private cloud arguably represents IT’s “big introduction” to the Internet. It enables businesses to treat IT more like a service — something that end-users can more easily help themselves to, instead of feeling beholden to.
Big changes, however, require conversations and training — inevitably there will be the heel-draggers, those resistant to or unsure about the change.
Forrester’s Staten has advised: “Knowing how each [executive] role in your organization feels about cloud computing will affect your cloud strategy, and being mindful of the attitudes they bring to your efforts could be the difference between a successful implementation and a catastrophic failure.”
Three: When done correctly, it can be fantastic for business.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, called cloud computing a “sea change — a deep and permanent shift in how computing power is generated and consumed,” and added that there’s a common pattern in the introduction of such “novel techniques.”
“The unanticipated benefits,” he wrote, “often outweigh the intended ones.”
The widely considered benefits of the private cloud are security and control; the cost-effectiveness of being able to make use of current IT assets; and the business agility they enable, with IT able to scale resources up or down as necessary.
Still other benefits of the private cloud, as the Big Fat Finance Blog has pointed out, “include increased IT productivity and efficiency, the ability of business users to self-provision the desired IT resources, and an increased ability to monitor and measure IT consumption for the purposes of chargeback or, as is more likely, show back.”
Should IT decision makers be trendsetters? No way. Change makers? Absolutely.
Christopher Yeich is Director of Strategic Content for Geeknet Media.