Don’t Let Your Culture Keep You Off of the Cloud

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a CIO dinner in Palo Alto, Calif., with a dozen IT execs and one of our vendor partners. The topic was cloud computing and my key questions were, “Where are your organizations today versus two to three years ago in moving to the cloud?” and “What are the next applications that you are looking to move to the cloud?”

Our in-house research on cloud computing shows adoption continues to climb from year to year. In fact, we’ve seen a 15 percent gain in the past three years. But the companies represented at that dinner seemed a bit behind the cloud curve — and, remember, this was in Palo Alto, where you would reasonably expect to find early adopters.

When I asked why certain companies were still resisting the cloud, the answers weren’t about security or data control, as we’ve come to expect. They were mainly about cultural resistance and the “We’ve always done it this way” mindset.

Perhaps not coincidentally, most of the execs who cited cultural resistance were the ones who were pushing the cloud agenda at their organizations — with little success thus far.

As we continued to talk as a group, it became apparent that even the companies that were further down the cloud path were still experiencing some resistance within their own teams — in some cases, significant resistance.

The best line of the night came from a retail IT exec who asked, “We make apparel, why the [expletive] would I want to own a data center? I want my entire team focused on projects that will move the business forward.”blog_execvoices_culture_keep_you_off_the_cloud_calloutI think it’s time for IT leaders to take a hard look at their teams (and to ask their team members to take a hard look at themselves) and determine who should remain with the business as it undergoes the move to the cloud — and who should not. This may sound callous, but it’s a critical step for businesses that want to evolve.

Change isn’t limited to the cloud
As I write this, it occurs to me that this isn’t a cloud-specific recommendation. It could be any circumstance where a business faces cultural resistance as it tries to change the way it works and innovates, or tries to develop new products and open new markets. If the time is right to try new things, take a risk and disrupt before being disrupted, and do the hard work of articulating your vision and evaluating your team.

And if you’re wondering about the answer to the second question I posed to the group at dinner that night, here it is: Data and analytics are the applications that most organizations said they are looking to move to the cloud next.


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