A couple months ago, Raf Los (@wh1t3rabbit) and I (@christianve) teamed up writing a blog entry on “10 ways to sell your CEO on cloud computing …. And loose face”. It started as a kind of a joke, but got quite some traffic, so we decided to get serious. This time we want to share with you arguments that make sense in the eyes of a CEO. I’ll spend the first part discussing general items to bring forward, and Raf will dig a little deeper on the security aspects as these are key for the CEO.
So, what arguments can we use. I’d like to propose you five, addressing key CEO requirements. I’m thinking about agility & responsiveness of the organization, increased productivity, innovation, people retention and faster decision making. Let’s go into each of those in a little more details.
Agility & Responsiveness
Market volatility has increased drastically over the last three years as can be seen in this chart (currency volatility) where ATR means Average True Rate. Consumer confidence evolves with the news of the so-called Euro crisis and it results in widely fluctuating demand. CEO’s are confronted with this volatility and look at ways to maximize business in these tough conditions. The increasing global nature of the market also provides growth opportunities requiring immediate action. The support role played by information technology in running the business has grown drastically over the last years. IT has to support the moves from the CEO and to do that requires the agility cloud can provide. By explaining in non-technical terms the added value of virtualization, automation, standardization and self-provisioning, the CIO can illustrate how IT can respond to the needs of the business. By demonstrating that context services can be sourced instantly from service providers using a SaaS approach, allowing the IT department to focus on the core applications, the CIO can describe a picture where IT can support every business move.
Productivity is often lost in tasks that are required to support users businesses. Development engineers spend a not insignificant amount of time in setting up development and test environment during the course of a project. Supply Chain teams look for computing power to run advanced simulation models to improve the supply chain reducing inventory and strapped cash. Marketing suddenly requires unavailable capacity to run their next marketing campaign. I could go on like that. As IT is becoming more central to the business, getting access to the required resources becomes a battlefield. And here is where cloud can help. Having access to resources when required, being it from a private cloud, a virtual private cloud or the public cloud, allows engineers, supply chain and marketing professionals to keep on doing their job, increasing the productivity of the teams. When we at HP looked at how our R&D teams operated, we realized they spend about 15% of their time with IT related tasks. By providing them with the appropriate environments in a self-service mode we made them more productive, allowing us to bring our products to market quicker. And all CEO’s know that the earlier a product reaches the market, the higher the upwards potential is for the product.
In a previous blog post I argue that cloud is not just there to transform the datacenter, but that, with cloud, you can also innovate. R&D can complement the features of products & services, transforming the user experience and as such make the offering more attractive, you can interact more easily with the members of the enterprise eco-system, improving operations across the end-to-end supply chain, and analyzing a combination of local, often structured, information and web-based social media and other unstructured data, the company can improve its decision making. These innovative approaches foster growth and provide new business opportunities. One of our customers for example, integrated web enabled control devices with their heaters to improve energy consumption and provide remote monitoring. This allowed them to win new markets and grow their turn-over, exactly what excites a CEO.
Take a moment to think out of the box and prepare a couple examples of where cloud could help your company address customer pain points, improve operations and differentiate itself from competition to win additional business and market share.
I talked about the papy boom and the fact the baby boomers were retiring. A lot of valuable knowledge is disappearing fast as a new generation gets on board. Successful companies will be capable of attracting and retaining that new generation, and allowing them to work with the baby boomers, fosters experience transfer. But the millennials, as they are called, work very differently. They expect information at their fingertips, real-time communication, they use smart phones, they want everything now. Cloud computing and social media, are two elements that can make the enterprise a “cool” place to work. And that is what attracts the youngsters in the first place. It’s also what will keep them working in the company. If your CEO has grown up children, he will definitely be able to relate to that. Stress that it is vital for the company’s future to attract top talent and retain it.
Faster Decision Making
Time has been shrinking. In this “instant-on” world every second counts. Your CEO has to take decisions fast, but he wants a good understanding of the situation before he has to decide. His problem, data overload. There is so much data out there these days he does not know where to look. This is why “big data” is suddenly becoming so important. Customers are interacting in social media, from twitter to blogs, from forums to facebook, and they speak about the enterprise and its products. How is the CEO capable to get a good perception of what is happening in the marketplace so he can take decisions? That’s his issue. So, where can cloud help in this? Well a vast majority of the information is in the cloud. It’s in an unstructured format. Having tools available on his fingertips to understand customers’ emotions, sentiments, to identify risk, patterns, intents, is critical. Those tools exist. Many are available on a SaaS basis. But they are located all over the place, so having a cloud environment where such services are aggregated for him and his management team to quickly get his hands on the appropriate ones and be able to run the appropriate analysis, is a tremendous added value. Here again you can score as you make his life easier and allow him to be more effective in his decision making.
These are five arguments that should resonate in the ears of your CEO. He will obviously ask you how to handle security & risk in the cloud as he heard a lot about that. Raf is addressing these arguments in his parallel blog titled “The Patchwork Cloud - Making the Security Case for Cloud Computing”.
Hope you enjoyed reading us, and hope this was useful. Give us your feedback, tell us how the arguments worked and which was the one that was most compelling in your situation.