Every CEO is going to want to know about the barriers to deriving benefits from the cloud. At most companies, the No. 1 and No. 2 executive concerns about using public cloud services are security and reliability. The CEO is right to be worried about these problems, which can affect a company's reputation and customers; if the problems materialize, they are going to end up in the CEO's lap.
This is where the homework you have done done, that dossier he has compiled, will pay off; you can tell the CEO how other buyers of cloud services have addressed similar problems. It may also make sense to outline some potential technical glitches that aren't likely to become the responsibility of the CEO, but that can still impede cloud initiatives. These include the difficulty of integrating cloud services with the company's existing systems, the relative newness of the cloud services that are available, and the cost and time to migrate applications from internal systems to the cloud.
Sealing the Deal
A frank discussion of the barriers is necessary if you're to gain the CEO's trust and backing. However, it is even more important for you to communicate the upside of the specific cloud projects you're proposing.
To this end, you should recruit some highly creative peers from outside the IT department. Those managers should become part of a multifunction cloud strategy team responsible for identifying promising projects, conducting trials, tracking results and making recommendations on which pilot projects deserve to be fully funded.
Good CEOs base their decisions on facts, not fashions. They are drawn to initiatives that can benefit the whole business, not narrow slices of it. If the CIO keeps the CEO's motivations in mind, it will go a long way toward putting this vital communications on track.
* Computer Economics, "SaaS Returns Bolster Cloud Computing's Promise," March 2009, page 8. This study surveyed 200 IT organizations. It does not clearly state who took the survey at these organizations, what countries or when the survey was conducted.
** Accenture Institute for High Performance "Global Cloud Computing Survey." Thjs survey polled 669 IT executives and other senior executives from nine countries: 201 in the US, 103 in China, 54 in Brazil, 51 in Singapore, and 50 each in France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The survey was conducted in October-November 2009.
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