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CIO: changing from gatekeeper to enabler

Article Type: Strategy          Published: 07-2015         Views: 1839      



The rise of 'shadow IT' means that CIOs must develop a hybrid cloud infrastructure that meets the needs of their business before the business itself beats them to it, suggests Ian Finlay, Chief Operating Officer at Abiquo

Advanced technology has significantly transformed the way enterprises operate. Business units, particularly software and web development teams but also marketing, HR and finance, want to take advantage of the new generation of cloud services, proving that interest in cloud technology is no longer solely the domain of IT teams.

Consequently few business unit leaders wait for CIOs to deliver solutions against a set of requirements. This results in CIOs and IT departments losing control and having to deal with the pitfalls that come from having both systems and data outside a company's infrastructure. Finding a solution that meets the needs of all stakeholders is one of the greatest challenges facing enterprises today.

The convergence of cloud computing and business-critical applications is perhaps the most transformative technology trend affecting today's workplace. Employees want instant access to tools from any location, at any time, and so increasingly want to use cloud-based solutions which offer unlimited scalability of storage and data-processing capabilities as well as helping business-critical applications run more efficiently.

With businesses increasingly open to growth opportunities, being able to respond to dynamic market conditions and competition, serve new geographies, and rapidly develop new products and services means cloud solutions are becoming more attractive.

Despite the benefits cloud computing offers businesses, IT departments are understandably nervous about allowing business units access to a wide range of self-service solutions. This, coupled with budget limitations and corporate policies means IT departments end up acting as gatekeepers and restricting the services to which employees can have access.

Consequently, employees are procuring their own solutions in order to meet their specific business requirements without the knowledge of their IT departments. According to Centrify, more than two-thirds of organisations admit that unauthorised cloud applications are being implemented without IT's knowledge or involvement. This "shadow IT" could pose a significant threat to an organisation's information security and availability, potentially impacting its revenue. Shadow IT will continue to grow unless business units and departments are provided with flexible tools as part of the services IT offers.

The major challenge facing IT departments is to regain control and enable employees to work flexibly with applications that meet their requirements, keeping company data secure and making sure CIOs can deliver the compliance and reporting requirements demanded. In order to do this, CIOs and IT departments need to bridge the gap between IT's need for control and business units' need for flexibility by offering flexible and dynamic self-service solutions.

By doing so, IT becomes an enabler of business change rather than a barrier, and by choosing the best hybrid cloud platform to offer both on-premise and cloud solutions, organisations will avoid pitfalls created by using a variety of different systems and cloud offerings within an organisation. CIOs need to understand that the demands placed by each business unit to become stronger, more innovative and competitive require a service-based approach. This will position CIOs as business enablers, supporting greater efficiency and innovation to fuel growth and increase revenue, while also future-proofing the organisation's technology infrastructure to maintain a competitive edge.

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