Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Where's the Business?

Despite all my attempts it appears cloud computing continues to be a technology topic, at least in the Fortune 1000. Over the past few years secrets of cloud, including Facebook's private cloud, Zynga's use of 12,500 Amazon EC2 instances, and NetFlix creation of their Chaos Monkey, have made big company executives ask their CIO "what are we doing with public cloud? What are we doing that we can tout in Fortune magazine or at our next board meeting. After 30+ years of being beaten into submission that IT is about avoiding risk, now CIO's are being asked how far outside the box they're thinking, how entrepreneurial they are.  I'd be amazed if none have broken down in heaving sobs or curled up on the floor with their thumb in their mouth.  The truth is, cloud doesn't start with the CIO, it ends at the CIO.

The preconceived notion is that cloud is all about TECHNOLOGY. Guess what, it's not! In reality each of those examples, and the ones CEO's and CFO's trot out to "motivate" their CIO's have nothing to do with technology. Rather, each has to do with the business. It's the needs of the business which drove the application of the technology, not vice versa. Therefore the right question is not CEO to CIO but CIO to the CEO: "Here is what cloud enables businesses to do differently. How can we take advantage of it?"

As clouds are being built, the enemy of efficiency, fiefdom, is following right along. With the number of business savvy CIO's in the Fortune 1000 I'm surprised at how few have engaged the business in a discussion outside of cost savings. Great, run applications and all at a lower cost. But that wasn't the goal of Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, or just about anyone other cloud based company.  Just look at NetFlix who single-handedly put Blockbuster out of business and forced the cable operators to take notice.

Cloud is a platform, a new business enabler for the 21st century.  It's about revenue generation,  It's about providing an on demand foundation to deliver technology where needed, when needed, in the most efficient manner possible.  How it happens isn't important.  The focus needs to be on WHY!

(I held on to this post for a year or two before publishing to validate it's applicability.  Then, all of a sudden, I started seeing a torrent of posts and articles on this very subject.  So then I held on to it for a few more months.  But finally I've come to my senses, so my apologies for helping to push the conversation earlier.)

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