The Cloud Forecast — Discussing What’s Next for Enterprise IT

Michael Chill, HBM’s VP of Information Technology, led a discussion about the cloud’s current and future role in organizations — along with best practices to help IT executives leverage the cloud’s competitive advantage.

As organizations navigate a shifting business landscape, technology plays an increasingly critical role — and that includes the cloud’s ongoing evolution. At a St. Louis CIO Summit in December, IT executives gathered for an invitation-only discussion on the cloud’s challenges and benefits, and how the technology can deliver more value to organizations.

Michael Chill, HBM’s VP of Information Technology, guided the conversation at the December event, along with Mike Taylor, Chief Technology Officer at World Wide Technology, and Tom Schunk, Emerson Electric Co.’s CISO & VP of Global Communication Services.

The discussion allowed CIO and CISO participants to learn from each other while sharing how the cloud has impacted their business, particularly as demand for technology services expands throughout organizations.

During the conversation, IT executives noted the importance of defining what the “cloud” means within each organization as its application to different technology services has become increasingly complex. This became apparent in the participants’ discussion of the “hybrid” cloud, which combines a variety of cloud-based technologies (such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Software as a Service, and public/private datacenters). There is no “one size fits all” definition and application of cloud technology.

The shared insights included an important point regarding the cloud’s role: Instead of treating the cloud as a destination, organizations should view it as a solution to business problems. Of course, that doesn’t mean the cloud will solve every problem (despite the exaggerated claims some cloud vendors make). However, cloud technology can be leveraged to create scale, flexibility, and cost alignment in business processes to ultimately deliver organizational value.

As participants talked about the need for strategies to achieve business goals, they also addressed the cloud’s potential vulnerabilities. Governance & Security ranked as their top concerns. Although they have seen improvements in cloud security, the CIOs and CISOs remain focused on securing the information that leaves their on-site systems. The ongoing challenge for organizations is the creation of both a secure environment and a seamless user experience. “The largest takeaway for me was the need for an identity management solution to protect what is in the cloud while allowing our users to seamlessly access the various cloud solutions,” commented Mike Chill.

The Bottom Line:  Cloud technology is a fast-moving, increasingly powerful platform that can help create scale, drive efficiencies, and build better cost alignment in business processes, but balancing strong governance and security to allow a positive user experience is a necessity.