The Stack Archive

The challenges of selling the cloud to senior management

Mon 16 Feb 2015


John Mayall is the Chief Architect at Jardine Lloyd Thompson, one of the world’s largest providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits. John will be speaking at Cloud Expo Europe at the Excel centre in London on 11th-12th of March.

Selling the cloud to senior management across the organization can sometimes be a challenge, especially if their perceptions are driven by poor press, misunderstanding, or the opinions of their peers. For those of us working internally within organisations, our role is to change these perceptions and make sure that we are enabling senior managers to make informed decisions. We believe that overcoming the concerns of senior management will open up opportunities that will allow the business to make step changes in its ability to differentiate and create increased shareholder value. The approach to addressing these concerns really depends on the organisation, but here’s how we addressed a few of them.

The overwhelming concern we hear regards security and regulatory compliance; this view is reinforced by recent research by OVUM/BT which highlighted that 42% of organisations were concerned about security and compliance. Looking at security, we’ve taken the approach of reviewing both our approach and organizational investment in security and comparing it to our cloud providers. In almost every case our investment is dwarfed by the the cloud providers we engage. The question we put to our senior management is ‘Where would you want your personal data if you had a choice: with the cloud providers who invest much more than us in security or on our systems?’ This is perhaps simplistic and there may be other considerations, but this simple question usually allays the security fears of senior management.

Regulatory concerns are primarily around data residency and privacy. We’ve approached this by understanding where we have applications and data that potentially fall under regulatory controls, and then engaging suppliers who can meet those requirements. We’ve engaged IAAS and SAAS providers around the globe who assure local residency of data, where required, and who can meet our data privacy requirements. We have also been monitoring legal moves in the US of companies such as Microsoft with regards to data privacy/residency. Importantly, we’ve engaged providers who, when challenged, clearly understand the regulations and their responsibilities in respect of them. The key here has been to demonstrate to senior management that we understand our data, where it is being created and accessed, and then demonstrating how our providers can meet the privacy/residency needs.

Another concern we’ve seen raised is the reduced control the organization has over the solution where we are using SAAS. In the past we’ve seen ‘control’ of on-premise solutions mean bespoke configuration and increased complexity to meet local business preferences. With cloud solutions this ability to bespoke is much reduced, and for our commodity processes, i.e. back office processing, this is actually proving a benefit, as it imposes consistency of process onto the organisation, allowing us to focus investment on our areas of differentiation.

In one region we are currently pushing a number of disparate processes into a SAAS solution which imposes a fairly standard process, giving us consistency of data coming out of the system and allowing us to use this data for some differentiation around analytics. We’ve positioned this with senior management by explaining that our inability to make bespoke change to the solution is actually giving us business benefit in the consistency of data available for more important business innovation work.

Senior management across the business seem to appreciate the opportunity the cloud brings but they have concerns that are often not based on fact. Bringing some key facts to them, which is our approach, appears to clear some of the fog and make them engage the proposition based on reality, not perception.

If you’d like to attend John Mayall’s speech and meet up with the most influential cloud professionals in Europe, click here to register for Cloud Expo Europe at the Excel Centre on the 11th-12th March.


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