Is a Move to the Cloud Good or Bad for IT?

ininBy every measurement, the cloud is growing rapidly and is here to stay. In many cases, the move to the cloud has been financially motivated – primarily driven by the CFO or CEO. There are those forward thinking IT directors or CIOs who have embraced the cloud for the host of benefits is brings to the organization. Still, regardless of the source or driver for the move, a shift to the cloud has left many a person with IT on their business card wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing for them personally.

For IT leaders and team members, the cloud doesn’t mean dust off the GMAT prep book and look for a career change. Running software on premises or having the solution hosted in the cloud doesn’t change the fact that IT remains in charge of the company’s technology. A few years ago as Interactive Intelligence first began our shift as a vendor toward the cloud, I was presenting at a conference and I made the statement, when discussing cloud benefits that, “The cloud allows you to move the responsibility for the technology off to a third-party, allowing you to focus on the core of your business instead of managing IT.” I still think my underlying point was a good one, but someone came up afterward and justifiably corrected my choice of words. He said, “A move to the cloud doesn’t “move the responsibility” anywhere. At the end of the day, I’m still responsible for the success of our technology projects.” He was right!

So I’ve changed my thinking. IT is the responsible party. And what the cloud allows is for IT to share some of that day-to-day technology management with a trusted vendor. With this viewpoint, I believe there are four primary factors that can make the shift to the cloud a positive one for IT.

  1. Recognize that moving to the cloud is very much like creating a partnership with another company.  You are, after all, moving valuable applications and critical data into their trust.  Looking at it as a partnership allows you to constantly make sure that the cloud provider is looking after your valuable data the way a good partner would.
  2. Make sure your business objectives are driving your technology decisions, usage, and timelines, and not the other way around. The cloud provider isn’t ever going to understand your business the way you do. You are the one who must properly convey those business objectives and then work with your cloud partner to determine the best possible solutions.
  3. Don’t allow compromises on the part of the cloud vendor. In other words, a move to the cloud needs to be a step forward in what you are able to deliver to users and customers. IT needs to play the critical role of ensuring that that is exactly what is being gained in the move to the cloud.
  4. Carefully plan out what applications or functions you move to the cloud, and what levels of security are required for each. A move to the cloud could very well be the smartest move your business has ever made relative to technology consumption. Yet, that doesn’t mean you need to move everything as fast as it can be moved. You control the plan and you are the one who dictates the speed of the cloud shift. A weighty responsibility…again, that isn’t one to delegate to a third party.
  5. So if your cloud move involves the contact center, unified communications, back office CRM, or other significant technologies, IT’s role shifts a bit. You won’t have as much responsibility for day-to-day management and maintenance, but in its place comes an elevated responsibility to be the one who orchestrates the move to make sure it all works.

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