C-level technologists and the cloud
Five years ago, I was at a conference for technology service providers who focus on the charity and not for profit sector. There was much discussion of cloud and how everything that such services offered could be delivered through traditional solutions. I expressed the view that cloud solutions were the future and anyone who thought they could be fought off was deluding themselves – especially SME service providers.
I tell this story now because as one of those people who includes CIO/CTO among their responsibilities, I have always seen the cloud as much more than a technical model of application delivery.
For many years, I have been convinced that those of us who undertake the role of CIO/CTO spend far too much time dealing with those elements of technology that are invisible to the users and the organisation or that they see as a cost and not as adding value. This includes all infrastructure and anything associated with the words “upgrade” and “maintenance”. Where we make a difference is in applying technology to make the organisation more efficient and effective.
So the fundamental concept of cloud sits squarely in the middle of how I’ve always thought technology should be delivered. At its heart, cloud takes away everything that is, and should remain, under the bonnet (or hood for our non-UK audience) from the conversation. This means that, as a CIO/CTO, I can concentrate on what the application will do to enhance the performance of the organisation.
It also makes me more demanding. I want applications that are in my hands in minutes rather than months, let alone years. I want to be able to do admin tasks quickly without “taking a ticket” and I want them to be done by someone who doesn’t need to know what a disk drive looks like or the difference between version A and version B. I want to on-board a new user five minutes after I’m told they’ve arrived and I want to have them trained before they go home on their first day. I want everything to run on all mainstream mobile devices and, guess what, I have a CEO and Chairman who want that too.
That doesn’t mean to say that I won’t consider bespoke hosted applications. It’s just these are now my standards. Therefore, if a supplier is going to propose a traditional solution, they either need to have an application so compelling in the context of my organisation I can’t say no, or they are going to have to deliver it as slickly as the best cloud providers.
What my friends didn’t recognise five years ago is that the bar has been raised. Then, we ran on in-house servers and used remote desktops and VPN solutions to get access to them. It was flaky, clunky and not very user friendly.
Now, a user can plug in anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection and get the same experience as they would in our office. It’s user friend, incredibly powerful and it’s enabled me to deliver more value to the organisation in the last year than I did in the previous five combined.