The human factor of IT embracing the cloud must always be taken into consideration.

Cloud computing is causing IT to evolve from the back office to a catalyst for business transformation and company growth. When leaders such as the CIO communicate their desire to shift technology from on premise to the cloud, IT is generally scared to death. People fear change and the unknown. They immediately ask, “What does this mean for me?” “How will this impact my job?” These feelings can cause IT to see the cloud as a threat and resist the shift. Thus, the human factor of IT embracing the cloud must always be taken into consideration.

CIOs and other IT leaders must be clear with their teams on their desire to shift from leveraging technology on premise to the cloud and the why behind it. CIOs must understand that some people will jump onboard quickly; others will jump onboard over time; and some people will not want to work this way and will never jump onboard. As a consequence, IT leaders must commit to having a lot of conversations with team members to gain buy in. IT leaders must always be sincere and work to demonstrate understanding with their people; otherwise, they will do more harm than good.

For example, job security is often the top issue. If you are an Exchange administrator, you spend half the day ensuring email is working. What happens when the company moves to a hosted solution? The CIO can communicate the desire to allow iPhones and the need to learn mobile device management, which is far more interesting and valuable than watching email go across the server. The CIO could have a similar conversation with a system administrator moving into dev/ops (supporting stable software to enabling rapid deployment of stable software).

Smart providers know that the human factor of consuming cloud must always be taken into consideration, especially with IT departments at the start of their journey. While establishing a compelling business case – solution, ROI, payback, etc. – is table stakes, there is also often a need to arm IT leadership with the messaging and tools to help guide their teams through the change management process.  That is, not losing their job, but doing a different job; shifting from undifferentiated work to high value activities. How the status quo is the real risk.

-Josh Lowry, West Coast GM