The Cloud keeps attempting to disintermediate the CIO


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The cloud. It’s remarkable.

The widely available and rapidly growing source of the greatest computing power and storage capability ever known to man continues to unleash the rapid spread of new innovations. It allows unthinkable productivity miracles to happen anywhere at anytime with a nonchalant finger swipe across a 5 inch pane of gorilla glass.

The heft and weight and challenge of conceiving, buying, implementing, and delivering secure, reliable, enterprise class computing capabilities to armies of workers has now been simplified to the swipe of a credit card and a button click on an internet browser or app store.

The blood, sweat, tears, and headaches of wrangling applications, databases, hardware, and integrations has now been outsourced… to the giant and glorious cumulus in the sky.

The Journey

Many wrestled through the days of early programming en route to receiving their MCSE, then led a (or several) multi-year ERP implementation(s) while wearing their MIS Director hat, to finally graduating to receive a well deserved promotion. They had earned the title of CIO.

But then something happened. The business, frustrated with multi-year backlogs of projects, layers of frustrating and stifling bureaucracy, were emboldened by this revolutionary computing delivery model, and said “we don’t need you. We’ll handle it ourselves”. And with a small and simple monthly line item expense from their own budget, the CIO had lost visibility to and control of the new information systems.

So, the CIO has had, and many are still wrestling through, somewhat of an identity crisis. The cheese has indeed been moved.

Where did it go?

New meaning for C.I.O.

Many CIOs, seeing the winds and seas shift, adjusted their sails and found the cheese hiding on the island of integration. They watched their line of business counterparts, who thought they were so crafty suddenly realize that they still needed to merge their old legacy reports with the data from the new cloud based systems. They watched their counterparts struggle through the data and process integration challenges that they had conquered several times over the previous decades, and they were a welcome help. The re-formed a partnership with their business peers, and became a sight for sore eyes as they helped to detangle a mess and built new integrated systems and processes, leveraging the next generation of new and emerging hybrid infrastructures.

Still others, swapped their boat in for a glider and sailed enthusiastically through the sky to embrace cloud computing. They recommended that their organizations hop on this ship before it was too late. Their identity and value was no longer in managing infrastructure, but creating and orchestrating the use of data and information in a new and exciting cloud computing world. They helped their organizations manage the transition from on premise applications and costly maintenance and support contracts to a new model which provided continuous incremental upgrades, a platform for innovation, and unprecedented reliability.

But even those who have successfully navigated these changes have another storm to navigate.

The Next Storm

Technology in 2015 is changing so rapidly that most business leaders can’t quite keep up with what exactly is changing and what the potential impact on their business is. Increasingly, competitors that aren’t even on the competitive radar list are the ones who are leveraging technology to have the most significant impact on businesses.

Is Marriott considering AirBnB a competitor? Or is AT&T considering WeChat a competitor? Was Mercedes really concerned with a novel little electric car experiment called Tesla? Taxicabs got blindsided by Uber. Do FedEx and UPS see Uber and Amazon as potential competitors? Increasingly it seems like everyone should consider Google a competitor as they foray into just about everything.

But, here’s the main point: Businesses not only need to modernize their computing platforms to help them execute their existing models better. That’s good, but likely not good enough to survive over the long haul.

The cloud (along with exponential growth in computing and storage power, new programming languages, and more innovative devices) continues to destroy barriers, which makes just about anything, from anywhere, possible. Widespread access to more and more capabilities means that we’ll witness the next facebook, amazon, and google rise to dominance from seemingly nowhere over the next few years. We’ll see more upstarts unseat decades long incumbents across industries.

Not only do organizations need to re-platform their infrastructure to leverage the best of cloud (and all of its numerous and growing permutations of hybrid offspring), but they need to imagine what’s possible and in many cases design entirely new models of value creation. These new models will capitalize on the white spaces that technological innovation opens up; In every industry. In every geography.

Leveraging the cloud to construct new value chains

And here is where cloud computing will once again sift the next generation CIOs from the others. The cloud and all of its growing mix of services up and down the technology stack will allow those organizations who are wise enough to understand how to leverage data, algorithms, and analytics to construct and orchestrate new value chains. CIOs who can spot and spearhead these innovation initiatives will be incredibly valuable to their organizations.

However, like those who were content to simply build and manage infrastructure have been forced to shift or changed roles entirely, those who remain focused on current generation integrations and cloud infrastructure for too long will also see their value diminish into commoditization.

The cloud will continue to mature, disintermediating CIOs from their old roles, but opening up new opportunities those aware and innovative enough to adapt. How will you respond?

This post is sponsored by KPMG LLP and The CIO Agenda.

The views and opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG LLP.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Brian Vellmure
For more than a decade, Brian Vellmure has impacted hundreds of companies on their journey towards increased profitability through strategic customer focused initiatives. For more insightful thoughts and resources, please subscribe to Brian's blog by clicking here


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