Looking to Become CIO? Put Your Head in the Cloud
By WSJ. Custom Studios for VMware Inc.
Senior IT professionals looking to advance their career should keep their head in the cloud.
The single most valuable skill in today’s IT market is cloud computing, according to a recent Robert Half Technology survey of 100 IT directors and CIOs in the U.K. The reason: Cloud computing fundamentally changes the way companies operate, giving employees rapid access to information and resources that impact everything from finance to HR to marketing to R&D. The cloud also changes the role of IT, and by extension, the role of the CIO and senior IT executives.
Consider these five points as you plot your company’s IT function—and your career:
Think of yourself as Chief Cloud Officer. Mid- to senior-level IT execs can use cloud-management skills to help move their career forward and accelerate their path toward becoming CIOs. However, in today’s environment, it might make more sense to take that mindset even further: Think in terms of becoming Chief Cloud Officer or Chief Integration Officer. Even if those aren’t the actual job titles you’d hold, they describe the CIO’s evolving role and the new skill set you’ll need—the ability to broker IT services and spearhead ways to serve your clients, while inspiring your team to a similar mentality.
Improve your team-management skills. The cloud will further the trend of working with geographically disparate teams. “Today, someone who is leading an application development team might have 20 developers in China and 10 in Boulder, Colorado,” says Joseph Pucciarelli, vice president and IT executive adviser at IDC, the Framingham, Mass., consultancy. “IT executives need to see themselves as more than project managers. They need to understand how to effectively interact with both internal and external members, and translate those interactions into business results.”
Appreciate where the business needs your help. A recent IDC study found that business lines, rather than IT departments, now fund 61 percent of enterprise technology projects. Findings like these have scared many IT departments, whose members worry they’ll lose influence—or even become irrelevant.
These worries are unfounded.The key is to understand where the business needs your help. For example, those in charge of the business may not have experience in creating a case for cloud-related technology projects—IT can help them with that. “One of the skills IT has is understanding the corporate calculus on how to secure funding,” Pucciarelli says. “The Line of Business is not as experienced in that corporate lingua franca.”
Focus on Transparency. With a greater emphasis on ROI, CIOs are searching for more transparency when it comes to the costs and benefits of IT resources. Consider cloud management: New analytics tools enable IT departments to analyze log data produced by virtual machines, allowing them to see developing storage problems and take action. The focus on greater transparency allows IT departments to use employees’ time more effectively, improve compliance and boost business benefits.
Measure success differently. No one gets a seat in the boardroom—or stays there—by talking “megabytes” or “transactions per section.” Now, you must understand the concerns of all your constituents, and speak in terms that resonate with the C-suite, Pucciarelli urges. So when the CIO speaks to the CEO about the cloud, the focus should be on new business models and speed. When speaking with the CFO, the ongoing conversation should address capital management, return on investment, risk mitigation and costs. When the CIO meets with business lines, concern will be about agility, time to market and customer service.
The bottom line: When you talk about cloud management from the viewpoint of executive management—i.e., your peers and constituents—you fortify your value and your position in the organization.
The Wall Street Journal news organization was not involved in the creation of this content.
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