How to use the cloud to become the voice of progress, not resistance

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Management theory research shows that successful teams often incorporate a balance of character traits – for instance, a conservative-minded manager might even out a risk-taking colleague. But it is important that CIOs do not always represent the former and learn that, increasingly, they need to become the positive drivers of change in their business. For many, the cloud offers that chance.

“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go.” J.C.Watts

Are you strong enough to give up control of your core IT domain, in the interests of wider progress? It’s a hard question for anyone to agree to, and it’s tougher still in the domain of security. One of the first principles of information security rests in taking control of your environment. So it feels counterintuitive for any CIO to surrender control of their IT infrastructure and data to a third party.

This is understandable. While many IT leaders recognize the opportunities afforded by cloud computing, they worry that the necessary compromises on security represent too big a risk – from fears of data being sent over public networks, through to new legal risks of storing information in new jurisdictions.

Yet a key point that is often missed in this debate is that the cloud may actually offer some of the best solutions to today’s complex security and privacy challenges. In fact, cloud service providers are now in a race to the top, spurred on over last year’s revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) snooping. Many now offer best practice approaches on security, data storage and other issues – often far ahead of what individual IT functions might offer.

In short, instead of droning on about why the cloud is too risky and stopping all others, CIOs can use the cloud to become the corporate “yes man” for a change. This matters. Our DNA of the CIO study reminds us that, in order to succeed, CIOs need to do more to be seen as someone willing to find solutions, rather than the person who simply flags up risks all the time. The emergence of secure cloud solutions helps provide a juncture to enable this.

Mind the creep

In fact, any CIOs who don’t will have to face up to a new risk: “cloud creep.” Here, various departments or business partners simply bypass IT and engage directly with cloud providers. After all, this is often as easy as signing up online with a corporate credit card.

This disjointed approach does become a risk to security, because little attention is likely being given to issues such as data privacy and transferability. Also, it blocks another key development opportunity that the cloud can offer you: rather than having to focus so much on operational and infrastructure issues, a push into the cloud can instead allow you to advise on the strategic realignment of business processes and practices.

So ask yourself, would your C-suite colleagues describe you as a “yes man” when it comes to cloud adoption, or do they have their credit cards at the ready to bypass you?

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