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Business Technology Literacy in the Cloud Computing Era

Worldwide IT spending will reach $2.14 trillion in 2014, that's up by 5.1 percent from 2013 levels

What if you could deploy a new IT service shortly after you defined the requirements? And, just imagine the bliss, if your IT spend could directly translate into a competitive advantage. Predicting the ROI would be relatively easy. You would be the envy of your peer group.

Unfortunately, as most senior executives already know, it's never that simple.

Typically, you perform the technology assessment due diligence up-front, you place your bets based upon the most compelling guidance, and then you closely monitor the results. It's an iterative process, where confidence builds over time. Maybe that's why new business technology spending tends to be aligned with a past success.

But this procurement model doesn't adapt very well in response to unanticipated significant market events or the rapid acceleration of unplanned technology migrations. Moreover, tight budgets and other resource constraints can severely limit an organization's ability to react quickly to changing environments.

Outlook for Near-Term IT Transitions
Worldwide IT spending will reach $2.14 trillion in 2014, that's up by 5.1 percent from 2013 levels - almost one point higher than the 2013 growth rate - according to the predictions by IDC. Meanwhile, cloud spending will likely exceed $100 billion. Growing by 25 percent, IDC believes that the buyer preference will be slanted toward public cloud services.

However, the legacy approach to business technology acquisition - that could often take months or years to reach full deployment - just can't seem to keep up with the most pressing needs for operational agility.

As a leader in today's fast moving commercial environment, staying current on everything that has the potential to impact the status-quo is of the highest priority. It's a well-known fact in business, you can't fully capitalize on a competitive advantage if it has yet to mainstream throughout your organization and the core parts of your business operations.

That being said, is your executive team conversant with all the latest business technology trends? Are you already cloud-literate and very decisive, or cloud-challenged and somewhat ambivalent? If you don't know the answer to these key questions, then perhaps now's the time to establish a benchmark. After all, cloud literacy is no longer optional -- regardless of your industry.

How to Prosper from Cloud Computing Adoption
Eventually, the senior leadership of every size company in all industry categories will need to become literate in cloud technology adoption. Furthermore, in order to tap the full potential of the cloud services phenomenon, that awareness will need to permeate to all your department leaders. In fact, at some forward-thinking companies, it's already common for Line of Business (LOB) leaders to be actively involved in the buying-cycle. Clearly, that's a growing trend.

A joint effort between Cisco and Intel, "The Impact of Cloud on IT Consumption Models

" study surveyed 4,226 IT leaders in 18 industries across nine key economies during 2013. The global study findings uncovered important insights about how key trends are impacting IT procurement.

A case in point: 44 percent of IT funding is already coming from LOBs, either directly or as operating budget chargebacks to the IT organization. Also, 69 percent of survey respondents believe that authority over buying decisions will increasingly reside with LOB leaders.

Therefore, given the increased influence of LOBs across all IT consumption lifecycle stages -- including planning, procurement, deployment, operations and governance -- it's imperative for savvy CIOs and IT managers to rethink their internal stakeholder engagement strategy.

As an example, traditional IT leaders should anticipate a greater focus on commercial metrics, such as a meaningful ROI and substantively improved business outcomes. For some, that demand could present a skills challenge for employees. For others, there may be a need to update the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used to gauge project progress.

Regardless of the challenges encountered in a particular scenario, survey respondents seem unanimous in their belief about how you obtain the best solution -- IT and LOB leaders must work together. Respectful collaboration, based upon mutual trust, leads to triumph.

Boldly Moving Forward with a Cloud Strategy
So, perhaps you're wondering, to achieve your top priorities, where might you go to find the best examples of purposeful organization collaboration, value creation and cloud-enabled innovation?

Value-adding companies with a multifaceted ecosystem of integration partners, such as Cisco, provide access to subject-matter experts that can help you translate the benefits of cloud technology in ways that are relevant to all your business unit managers.

And, experienced business consulting talent and technical services support staff can guide your IT team through the steps to build a best-fit plan of action for your particular use case. These services and support models allow you to properly develop a cloud strategy that is right for you. As you're probably learning, using disparate cloud services is a far cry from a developed and optimized cloud strategy that meets your IT needs and supports the business strategic objectives.

Combining all of these requisite skills will create a recipe for your own success in the cloud computing era. Besides, once you're armed with these business transformation capabilities, it's a sure way to be much better prepared to realize your desired competitive position in the marketplace.

More Stories By David H Deans

David H. Deans is the Managing Director at the GeoActive Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in the Technology, Media and Telecom sectors.