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Business buy-in for on-demand IT

How can IT leaders get the rest of the board to support their move to the cloud?

Each new day brings another headline about the increasing cyber threat or a security breach at a major organisation. The potential costs in terms of both financial penalties and brand reputation are high, so it is unsurprising that senior executives are keen to avoid placing corporate information at risk.

For many business leaders, the cloud remains another source of danger. On-demand IT might now be an accepted form of delivery for certain areas of provision, such as email, productivity, and testing and development. Yet executive scepticism about the broad applicability of the cloud is strong.

IDC says security fears, trust issues and cost benefit doubts are persistent. The researcher says removing the barriers to cloud computing in Europe could encourage an extra €42.5bn investment in the technology and generate up to €587bn worth of growth every year between 2015 and 2020.

Failure to embrace the cloud, therefore, is potentially costly. What is more, CIOs testify that a move on-demand can provide big benefits in terms of agility, scalability and usability. So how can IT leaders get the rest of the board to support their move to the cloud?

The key to success is not going it alone. Cloud implementation must be a team sport. Gone are the days when an IT director would go out and buy technology and then hope the business would find value. In many cases, end users across the organisation are finding and then sourcing then own solutions to IT challenges.

Such decentralization, however, can create longer-term problems. Without the guiding presence of a CIO, technology purchases remain unconnected and corporate information can be put at risk. IT leaders must take back control and find a board partner to help sell the business case for a careful move to the cloud.

Cloud consultant KPI Partners suggests strong executive sponsorship is imperative when firms embrace on-demand IT. The board-level sponsor is crucial to ensuring systems for accountability are in place, both within the organisation and across external system of integrators and service providers.

The executive sponsor will identify the business case for the project within a particularly department. Rather than worrying about value, CIOs will already have the support of a trusted peer who can ensure the project is well resourced and well received in the individual line-of-business.

CIOs can then focus on doing what they do best - providing strategic leadership to ensure the organisation makes the most its innovative technology, both in terms of day-to-day governance and long-term business benefits.