Unchaining CIOs From IT

Bill Hoban is the CIO of Extra Space Storage, the second-largest operator of self-storage facilities in the United States. His company has embraced cloud computing in a big way–and that has led to big changes in the CIO’s job.

Extra Space has 685 facilities and almost 400,000 customers across the country, so applications that run anywhere across the Net make sense. The company has long used an application service provider for its point-of-sale software, and a recent move to Salesforce.com put it firmly in the cloud camp.

The company still hosts its primary accounting package from Great Plains at its Salt Lake City headquarters. Hoban has no specific plan to stop hosting Great Plains, but he is drawing up a strategic plan that considers moving all apps to the cloud. “We’ll do the financial analysis and go with what makes sense,” he says.

But moving to the cloud has implications beyond software. “My life has changed quite a bit over the past year,”

Hoban says. “I’m fortunate to be able to approach things strategically.

“Our president has given me the charter to study ways to become more effective, and my day involves a lot of research. I spend much less time sitting in meetings about applications development and more time in the field seeing what’s going on.”

The CIO role is expanding, says Hoban, who finds himself “touching all components of the company.”

CIOs, he says, need to pull themselves out of the daily grind of IT management and look across the enterprise. “At times I feel like I’ve removed myself from the IT department,” he admits. “I have to walk through the department to remind myself.”

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