Time for the CFO to Step Up to the Cloud

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Cloud computing offers a variety of operational and financial advantages; it’s not just for IT anymore.

As a CFO are you driving cloud computing decisions? A recent study by Capgemini suggests that the business, rather than IT alone, is becoming involved in driving cloud strategy.

In North America, business is taking the lead over IT by 48.9% to 42.6%. Only in Asia-Pacific does IT (51.6%) still drive the cloud decision while business (40%) takes a back seat.

The study found three major appeals of cloud computing:

1) reduced cost,

2) reduced time to market/faster realization of revenue, and

3) operational efficiency.

All three directly impact the company’s financial picture. Clearly it is time for the CFO to get involved; this isn’t just for IT.

But the advantages of the cloud certainly don’t stop with the three above. Cloud computing offers a variety of operational and financial advantages:

Worker flexibility can boost productivity—they can use applications and data remotely. Anywhere workers can connect to the Internet; even from a smartphone they can access and share data and conduct business.

Minimal investment required—and investments you’ve already made in desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets can fully leverage the cloud.

Little or no initial investment is required and few or no exit cost—pay only for what you use for as long as you use it. Turn on applications, services and resources at will.

Minimize IT staffing—the cloud service providers handle much of the IT work, bug fixes, upgrades, backups and other maintenance while your IT maintains the network, user access and handles any remaining backend systems and integration.

Eliminate over-provisioning—most organizations buy more IT resources than they need just in case. Provisioning to support new products becomes a costly gamble where you tend to err on the safe side. In the cloud you can scale IT resources up and down at will, often at a moment’s notice, and pay only for the capacity you use.

Achieve business agility and flexibility—no longer is the business constrained by the capabilities and capacities of existing IT infrastructure to support change and new initiatives. Instead, you can add IT resources and services as needed to grab new opportunities and do so very quickly.

Best of all, cloud computing is not an all or nothing proposition—you can mix it with your own IT infrastructure, use as much or as little as you need, and change your mix as your situation or the business changes.

For sure there are concerns. Security is one, but security should be an equal concern with your on-premise IT infrastructure, too. On-premise or in the cloud, you must take appropriate security measures from the start. Similarly, compliance can become an issue. Again, establish and monitor governance from the start, both on-premise and in the cloud, and put in place appropriate enforceable service agreements and policies to ensure you stay in compliance.

As Capgemini found in its study, most companies follow an incremental approach to cloud adoption, with 88% citing the economic climate as driving them to adopt cloud, while 40% prefer off-premise or partner-host cloud services and 26% prefer an on-premise private cloud approach. Over three-quarters (77%) report working with multiple cloud vendors.

As previously noted, this isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. You can start small and scale it up or down as needed. That’s the beauty of cloud computing.

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