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CIOs and procurement pros partner on cloud services

Tom Kaneshige | April 21, 2014
Cloud services can help CIOs free themselves from worrying about managing data centers, scaling capacity, configuring servers, applying security patches and other routine maintenance so they can focus on providing insight to improve the business.

Aren't you tired of being force-fed old, clunky software by the CIO?

That was the not-so-subtle pitch CEO Rob Bernshteyn at Coupa Software made to 800 attendees at the Coupa Inspire 2014 event this week in San Francisco. Coupa, a cloud services provider, offers a host of tools for analytics, reporting, inventory, budget, cloud contracts and supplier visibility aimed at procurement professionals.

"This is our platform," Bernshteyn shouted repeatedly, not some add-on of an on-premises legacy ERP system installed in a bygone era when CIOs in a fiefdom would dictate what software tools business people used.

Ironically, Bernshteyn's keynote was followed by a panel of four CIOs — CIO Bask Iyer at Juniper Networks, CIO Beth Devin at Silicon Valley Bank, CIO Ross Meyercord at Salesforce, CIO Curtis Miller at Amerinet and director of cooperative technology Dan Rosenbaum at Land O'Lakes — talking about the benefits of cloud services.

So it came as no surprise that one of the themes emerging from the panel was how CIOs and procurement pros can work closely in a new kind of "partnership," a much-bandied about word describing the new role of CIOs and how they interact with business managers.

Going Around the CIO Is Risky Business

"Getting that relationship fortified is really important," Rosenbaum at Land O'Lakes says.

There's no question cloud services provide an easy on-ramp for business managers to adopt new tools without telling the CIO, and so the danger is that CIOs will be cut out of the loop. Coupa Inspire attendee Rendi Miller, senior manager of travel and procurement at Splunk, says she's inundated with pitches from cloud service providers — and she needs these new tools to do her job effectively.

"If you're not doing strategic sourcing with online tools, you're not doing sourcing," Miller says.

But doing end-runs around the CIO is risky business for both the business managers and cloud services providers.

Initially, cloud service providers were ecstatic selling directly to business managers rather than getting bogged down with the technical minutia and laundry list of requirements that CIOs demanded.

Now cloud service providers are singing a slightly different tune, lest they run into regulatory and compliance issues down the road and land their business customers in hot water.

"You can get a lot of early business adopters and then they find out, 'Oh my gosh, what did I sign up for?'" says Devin at Silicon Valley Bank.

Case-in-point: Silicon Valley Bank has specific risk mitigation controls in its policies, and auditors will routinely come in to make sure those controls are being followed. One of them requires user acceptance tests on changes before they go into production, followed by executive sign off.


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