The early years of cloud may have spurred a certain amount of antagonism between the lines of business and the central IT function as business leaders went around IT to purchase IT capabilities directly. But if that was the case, it doesn't seem to be any longer. Lundberg says HBR's findings show that the business and the IT department are now working as partners when it comes to cloud: 43 percent of survey respondents said IT is responsible for buying cloud, while 39 percent both IT and business units are involved. Only 16 percent of respondents said business units buy cloud without input from IT.
In cases where central IT and business units make decisions together, central IT generally advises business units and departments on their cloud efforts, provides due diligence and ensures security and interoperability concerns are addressed.
"The number one value of involving central IT was increasing security and reliability of cloud efforts," Lundberg says.
She notes that 52 percent of respondents reported that involving central IT in cloud purchases and management has lowered cost and complexity.
Cloud efforts now bring CIOs and business together
One of the problems that early cloud efforts ran into was that they were done without IT involvement, which meant business leaders generally didn't consider how a new service would connect to company systems or integrate with existing business processes. Moreover, gateway services to securely connect internal systems to the cloud weren't readily available. The result was new silos of data.
Today, Lundberg says, the business and central IT are generally collaborating on these issues: 62 percent of respondents say their company is able to exchange data between multiple cloud services and/or internal systems. To get there, the IT function has been required to rethink some of its processes to match the speed at which the business needs to operate.
"It's required IT to do some things differently," Lundberg says. "They can't go through that lengthy requirements process they've always has to do through. They've had to learn to do things differently, and they have."
Specifically, it's meant that the CIO and other IT leaders have had to establish relationships with their business counterparts and hold frequent conversations to ensure needs are being met.
"The key thing is it's all about relationships and trust," she says. "CIOs have to get to a place where they are having those conversations regularly. It's not having a meeting once a quarter. Conversations have to be happening on an ongoing basis. You have to make sure the line of business doesn't feel that if they let IT know about something, it will just bog things down."
Data security still a concern for some
As far as cloud inhibitors go, security concerns still top the list for those who have yet to adopt cloud. Those with cloud experience tell a different story: 34 percent say the impact of cloud on data security has been neutral, while 39 percent say cloud has increased their data security. Only 10 percent say their use of cloud has decreased data security levels.
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