A sampling of opinions from information technology (IT) professionals attending this week’s Cloud Expo from a range of major industries (excluding technology providers) reveals gaps between IT pros and their non-technical senior executives regarding the potential of cloud computing.
Asked to choose from among a variety of statements best summarizing attitudes about the cloud, the 223 responding IT professionals were most likely to view it as an extension of long-term trends toward remote networks and virtualization (47 percent of respondents), though many also called it a radically new way to think about their own IT function (37 percent).
But when asked to select the one statement that best describes how they think their non-IT executives perceive the cloud, the answers were noticeably different: Only 26 percent of IT pros think senior leaders view the cloud as a logical extension of IT development. Yet 37 percent deemed their business leaders mostly likely to describe the cloud as having “immense potential,” contrasted with only 22 percent of the IT pros who said that was their own top descriptor.
At the same time, these IT professionals say business leaders are more inclined than they are to believe the cloud is just a passing fad.
The perception that business leaders have high expectations for the cloud and yet are also more likely to dismiss it as a fad may in fact share common roots, given the tendency of some enthusiasts to overhype the cloud and its capacity for radical change.
Overcoming Obstacles, Expanding Understanding
In response to a question asking participants to name the top three “potential barriers” to adoption of cloud-based solutions, the expectations of IT professionals were most closely aligned with their perceptions of how senior business leaders viewed barriers:
* 57 percent of respondents said they perceived data security as a barrier, and 51 percent of respondents said they believe their business leaders thought so.
* 32 percent of respondents cited potential problems with industry compliance or governance, and 30 percent said they believe their business leaders thought so.
* Disaster recovery concerns were third, at 27 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
IT leaders may have an opportunity to meet high business expectations by expanding their understanding of what the cloud can do for knowledge-based business functions outside of IT, the survey suggests. While 66 percent of the respondents said their own IT department would both advocate for and benefit from cloud-based solutions, no other single business function generated support from more than 25 percent of the respondents, even such information-dependent functions as strategy and business development, R&D (both at 13 percent), and supply-chain management (only 5 percent).
The survey was sponsored by Dell and conducted by an independent market research firm, Marketing Solutions Corporation, during the first two days of the Cloud Expo this week in New York.
“IT leaders understand the tremendous opportunity the cloud offers for their organizations, and they are clearly optimistic about its future. IT execs realize the people in their organizations want instant access to a wide range of information and applications. They want to be able to meet those ‘Yes, Now’ expectations, and they know better than anyone what the challenges are. But the survey data validates a perceived lingering disconnect in expectations between IT professionals and senior business executives, and we as an industry need to continue to drive transparency and focus on business results and outcomes to help bridge that communications gap.
“It’s clear that we as IT professionals must continue to develop a deeper understanding of what our businesses need, often stepping out of traditional comfort zones. We have the opportunity to meet the high expectations our business leaders have placed upon us by focusing less on the architecture of the solution – private, public, hybrid – and more on the critical business outcomes cloud can provide. We’ve reached an inflection point along the IT continuum, one that is shaping the way IT will lead and define long-term results for our organizations.” Steve Schuckenbrock, President, Dell Services.