Disruptive technology may strike zeal into the hearts of startup hopefuls and forward-thinking iconoclasts, but such paradigm-shifting innovations are often met with tepid reception in the executive suite. Enterprise leaders and senior management have driven successful business ventures through particular ways of doing things, and it's not hard to see how this knowledge of past success can translate into a reluctance to try something completely new. Additionally, senior officials are involved in so many disparate segments and objectives of the company that they may have little day-to-day involvement in the activity of lower-tier employees.
However, this stratification may not hold much longer. Higher network connectivity and other technologies like big data analytics offer more flexibility and access to business personnel, which both enables them to better contribute to company objectives and establishes them as a higher risk. The perils of insider threats can strike any business, and whether an exploited network or data breach is the result of an accident or malice, a compromised low-level user could have far-reaching implications. In order to truly protect the business and position it for further growth and profitability, it's essential that the C-suite become more active in IT solutions and management development. Enterprise-class cloud computing helps organization leaders adjust to the demands of the 21st century digital landscape and create a united environment that firmly plants the organization in the direction of further growth.
What's in it for CIOs
The enterprise cloud has a lot to offer information leaders, wrote GigaOM contributor Pete Johnson. He admitted that some industry leaders have said that the cloud could effectively render the CIO redundant (a factor which would understandably contribute to reticence), but leaders also saw advantages for the CIO who committed himself or herself to the possibilities of life in the cloud. While some day-to-day technological needs would be outsourced to IaaS clouds, for example, there are other areas that need to be addressed. Moreover, as cloud computing integration is funneled through IT, the department might be more relevant than ever.
The new paradigm, he wrote, "requires company leaders to stop thinking of IT as a cost center and start thinking of it as a functionality enabler."
The CIO can help shepherd this shift in perspective by positioning IT as a site where technological decisions can be directly leveraged into front-line profitability. Doing so can separate IT from the perception that it's growing "schizophrenic" and hard to manage, according to Harvard Business Review contributors Donald Marchand and Joe Peppard.
In the schizophrenic IT organization, they wrote, "One side is focused on running global-infrastructure and implementing big-system-application programs over three to five years, where the emphasis is on compliance, security, reliability, and effective 24/7 operations. The other side is focused on 'making IT happen' rapidly without the complex plans and multi-year rollouts that have been institutionalized in large IT organizations."
C-suite executives, and particularly CIOs, have to be able to blend these two perspectives. Scalability is key to targeted improvement in both short-term infrastructure development and long-term security and management. The cloud is proof that disruptive technologies can unseat traditional operations and decision making methods in such a way that creates new roles for top management and unifies organizations in the effort to reach for new heights of success.