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Big Chief Running Cloud

This piece on caught my attention; Service Providers and Outsourcing advisors have been marking CIOs knowledge and capability to structure cloud deals and not surprisingly, the scores are not especially flattering. I wonder what would happen if it were reversed and CIOs and Senior IT Executives were to mark Service Providers and Advisors on their knowledge of Cloud and how it could be applied to their business?

I suspect that in many cases it would not be flattering either. I suspect that many would say that their partners are confused, present conflicting messages, have little meaningful metrics to measure success and struggle to present a clear direction.

The problem is that there needs to a genuine conversation about Cloud and what it means to each individual business opportunity. The technology is mostly ready but it is a complex engagement because it is not a traditional IT engagement; if both sides treat this like an outsourcing deal, opportunity is going to be missed.

Outsourcing deals are often filled with conflict with tensions between two organisations and a focus on setting in place firm and fast rules of engagement. For a Cloud engagement, I think there is going to be a need for more flexible frameworks and certainly a more partnership orientated approach.

This requires a re-examination of process from both sides and will drive some interesting and uncomfortable conversations. Vendors may find themselves in the position where they have to almost admit that everything that both sides once thought they knew is wrong!

Cloud business cases will need metrics which reflect value and not cost containment. CIOs know how to contain cost, they’ve got very good at it but they need help in defining value. Yet still pretty much every vendor and Service Provider will still talk about how they will help you contain cost but not how they add real value.

There needs to be an element of business transformation in every deal; if you underplay this requirement, the Cloud engagement will surely fail.  Any engagement needs to have a transformation metric; in many cases, you are going to have long-term engagement at all levels of the IT organisation. Most sensible commentators know that Cloud is not going to reduce the number of people that are needed in IT but it is going to change the skills required; this again can change the nature of the conversation away from the normal outsourcing conversation.

Big Chiefs Running Clouds are going to need are going to need a lot of help.

And you need to remember that this is new territory for a lot of people and in many cases, you will be able to count the number of Cloud engagements that your people have carried out on the fingers of one thumb. As a service provider, you have a lot of responsibility to make these engagements work.

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