The Stack Archive Article

IT reasserts leadership in an era of cloud adoption

Fri 15 Apr 2016

In his best-selling 2000 book, Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”

That is the moment we’ve now reached when it comes to cloud adoption. Having reached a threshold of urgency and commitment, IT organizations are actively investing in public, private and hybrid cloud solutions.

Up to this point, it was line of business organizations that were making the most aggressive cloud investments — threatening to overshadow IT in the process. Now, IT and LOB leaders appear to be moving in a far more aligned fashion.

Dell’s 2014 Global Technology Adoption Index survey showed that 67 percent of mid-sized organizations globally are currently using cloud. And 25 percent are using three or more types of cloud service.

Consider another recent cloud survey by North Bridge and Gigaom Research involving more than 1,300 respondents (including users and vendors).

  • 49 percent of businesses are using the cloud for revenue generation and product development
  • 45 percent either intend to or already run their company in the cloud
  • 72 percent have adopted SaaS applications, up from 13 percent in 2011

The study addressed the transition to cloud-based solutions:

  • 65-70 percent of respondents will move some significant processing for business applications to the cloud in the next 24 months
  • The front office is getting the most attention with 52 percent using SaaS for sales and marketing, 44 percent for customer service, and 44 percent for business analytics
  • High shares have adopted cloud for several IT-related functions: web presence (63 percent); communications (54 percent); and disaster recovery (47 percent)

According to the study, “IT is no longer fighting.” Across all functions tested in the survey, 60 percent of respondents stated they would move some or significant processing to cloud in the next two years.

This is an opportunity, not a threat. While IT’s relevance was thought by many to be slipping in relation to “Shadow IT,” the truth is otherwise. As enterprises of all sizes have realized, IT now must span silos that undermine performance and prevent security threats that would otherwise create liabilities.

The IT organization is now poised to reaffirm its leadership and governance role in relation to enterprise technology, with greater power to contribute to the organization than ever before. In fact, IT’s strategic insight and guidance is being actively sought. Cloud is the catalyst and key instrument of this transformative shift.

“As enterprises of all sizes have realized, IT now must span silos that undermine performance and prevent security threats that would otherwise create liabilities.”


Many questions remain to be answered as cloud adoption options are considered and exercised. Your organization can now take leadership in addressing:

  • Plans: How do you ensure cloud adoption will meet goals for profitable growth? How do you determine what stays on premises and what can move off premises? How do you weigh one service provider against another? What frameworks and toolsets can you trust?
  • Talent: Where will you find the staff and providers necessary to manage and support cloud endeavors? What new training and development is necessary? What are the implications in terms of sourcing new talent? When will partnerships be necessary to close talent gaps?
  • Security: What vulnerabilities are raised by cloud solutions? How will those vulnerabilities be assessed, managed and mitigated? What are acceptable risks? What are unacceptable?
  • Compliance: What are the expectations of cloud in relation to regulatory, industry and business policies? What issues will be raised with customers and partners? What are the procedures for addressing compliance concerns?
  • Management: What will be IT’s role in ensuring that cloud services are effectively governed, tracked and assessed? What is the path forward in terms of continuous improvement? How will services be sourced and procured?

You’ll need guidance, frameworks, and toolsets that clarify the implications and effects of each decision and action in cloud. But now you — as IT leader — can decisively take the lead in all your organization’s technology investments and endeavors.

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