C-Suite Leadership in the Cloud

cloud computingDigital transformation has added yet another layer of complexity for the C-Suite, challenging leaders to effectively (and quickly) implement, manage and refine digital strategies within their businesses. When approaching much of this uncharted territory, leaders from various functions are brought closer together as they collaborate for the better of their organization. Case in point? Cloud computing, in particular, has brought many stakeholders together—and not just the obvious players.

It’s no surprise that the CEO, CTO and CIO have become more aligned while carving out a role for cloud. For organizations with technology-driven business models, the CEO and CTO are often in lockstep on cloud strategy. Further, Fortune 500 companies often experience even stronger alignment within the CEO-CIO relationship, as the CIO has a wide purview, encompassing technology, infrastructure and the overall health of the organization. Now, the CFO role, which has significantly expanded over the course of the last decade, is beginning to make an impact within the cloud computing mix.

Breaking down interdepartmental silos with cloud computing

Bringing the CFO into the conversation around the technological elements of a business may seem incongruous, but with cloud, it’s anything but. Cloud has been a testing ground for helping once segregated functions across business and IT unite with the common goal of bringing their organization into the digital future.

Truly strategic organizations have up-leveled the perspective of cloud as a computing platform designed to transform their business rather than viewing the technology as a simple cost saver. Cloud incorporates layers of security and machine learning that businesses didn’t have access to before, and the implications of these advancements reverberate across the business.

Further, with the new security parameters in a cloud-based ecosystem, the fear of a data breach—and the financial implications of a breach­—bring the CFO to the forefront of any cloud initiative. As decisions are made around cloud, cost visibility and risks need to be factored in—all of which fall under the purview of the CFO.

CFOs as the organizational change agent

Viewing the cost risk of cloud infrastructure in isolation is a mistake and CFOs are beginning to see the value in taking a more holistic approach. Cloud is becoming a transformative factor in improving business efficiency and profitability…and the right implementation and services WILL differentiate a company from competitors.

Cloud can and should be viewed through many lenses. Not only is cloud the ultimate innovation driver, but it plays a critical role in governance and profitability improvement. As part of a company’s broader digital transformation strategy, cloud must not only be viewed from a cost management point of view, but also as a value-add investment.

As such, CFOs are becoming more of the “change agents” within organizations than they used to be. Increasingly, they’re not just involved in the cloud conversation, but they’re often a primary contact for cloud vendors and service providers. Within their broader finance teams, they lead the forecasting and planning of cloud-related implementations to ensure the ultimate objective is met: maximizing profitability. The ins and outs of the cloud and cost management can seem complex to many, but finance leaders are best equipped to understand and manage these costs.

Here are a few ways the CFO—and any C-Suite leader within an organization—can become a cloud evangelist, while also making their own teams smarter:

– Ask questions: No one expects a CFO to automatically be a cloud expert. It’s important to get insight from others to better understand the cloud—and advocate for it.

– Collaborate with interdepartmental leaders: Cloud permeates many departments, not just finance. CFOs should leverage and share best practices to the benefit of all.

– Invest in technology training: To embrace the cloud, employees should have a solid grasp of the technology and its various elements and implementations. Training is a good first step.

– Monitor technology investments and continue to optimize: Cloud migration and optimization is not a static solution but a journey that needs to be continually monitored and updated.

– Cultivate a culture of cloud within your team: If a CFO reflects a passion for cloud, their team members will echo this. Cloud evangelism must take a top-down approach.

As is the case with CEOs, CFOs can be instrumental in facilitating a top-down approach to cloud migration and optimization, communicating the narrative around competitive landscape, cost control and value in driving the shift to the cloud.

Defining the new cloud landscape

The cloud is infrastructure’s way of transforming industry. Companies seeking to transform their business in the cloud need to be smart about options and strategic about implementation. As the path to digital transformation continues to evolve, the CFO is primed to be the next voice to help lead the cloud discussions that can change the trajectory of a company…or even an industry.

Read more: CloudHealth CEO Tom Axbey On Moving At Cloud Speed