5 Ways CIOs Can Tackle Cloud Fears

CIO Cloud Fears 

CIOs are tired of hearing about cloud computing concerns. They’ve spent years reading about how cloud resources are subject to risks, and wonder – what can they do to help people trust the cloud?  The truth is that despite being a hot issue for years, the topic of cloud security is more important than ever before as growing corporate dependency on web and mobile services coincide with national privacy concerns – most recently with the NSA scandal. The good news is that the hybrid cloud environment, which integrates on-premise and cloud-based solutions, allows companies to embrace the cloud without disruption.

According to Wakefield Research, CIOs are adopting the hybrid cloud approach to achieve significant benefits for their business. Although the majority of respondents believe a hybrid approach simplifies IT processes, 75 percent of CIOs still report institutional barriers that need to be overcome in order for the integration of cloud and on-premise solutions to gain wider acceptance. How can CIOs tackle these institutional barriers and conquer cloud fears in their workforce?

As a CIO with more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, and after holding many IT-related positions, I’ve realized that most people want to be cautious before investing in new technology. Through the years, I’ve helped companies understand that technology leveraged the right way is the key to business velocity, and have discovered the following top five ways for CIOs to tackle cloud fears in their workforce:

1) Bridge the Gap between IT and the Business

According to the Harvard Business Review’s two-year study, CEOs believe that CIOs are not in synch with the new issues CEOs are facing and do not understand where the business needs to go. Additionally, over 60% of IT purchases are now being made by the line-of-business, not IT. If CIOs believe the company needs to innovate by integrating cloud with their core systems, and CEOs aren’t aligned with this vision, you can see how this is a recipe for miscommunication and wasted resources.

2) Give Them Their Cloud, Their Way

With a hybrid approach, your workforce doesn’t have to rush all applications to the cloud right away. Few companies want (and can afford) a rip and replace approach. CIOs should explain to their workforce that a hybrid landscape supports fast adaptation while stabilizing areas where the current on-premise approach still makes sense. Therefore, companies can create new value and save costs while also reducing disruption.

3) Spell out Security from the Start

Cloud security policy and technology have dramatically advanced. The use of encrypted data bases and tokenized access to information has given CIOs and managers in LoB confidence in cloud security. However, gaining the confidence of your workforce means following through on a proven security plan. CIOs need explain how the cloud vendor they are using protects customers against unauthorized data access and misuse, as well as confidential data disclosure, using various measures for employees, applications, organization, systems, and networks.

4) Be Transparent

No matter how much CIOs plan, unanticipated technical issues can come up during integration projects. It’s important to vet the cloud vendor, but also important to set expectations with your workforce. To be honest, transparency is really a bigger issue than security. CIOs and IT departments not only have to ensure that cloud deployments comply with external and internal regulations, but they need to be able to prove that compliance to auditors and regulators.

5) Highlight the Benefits

CIOs shouldn’t just deliver the technology. They need to show how integrating on-premise and cloud-based applications can transform a business and deliver tremendous value – such as efficiency and flexibility. Additionally, pre-packaged integrations help businesses adopt and consume innovation faster than ever before in an IT environment that involves both on-premise and cloud-based applications. A hybrid cloud environment ultimately offers flexibility, choice, and control for companies that need to manage change and capitalize on emerging trends.

I believe that the cloud serves a strategic purpose in helping organizations accelerate innovation, and when done correctly, the hybrid cloud approach answers the need for flexibility. But, like a winning doubles tennis team, hybrid cloud computing requires skill, strategy, and most of all – constant communication. When hybrid cloud computing is out of an organization’s comfort zone, it’s up to CIOs to help their workforce stay focused on the big picture – the profound flexibility that integration will give to companies who want an edge in our customer-driven world.

By Robert Grazioli, CIO of SAP Cloud

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