Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

Cloud Crazy: The NYC CIO Forum Can't Shake the Cloud

Harvey Nash and PA Consulting's final U.S. CIO Forum of 2011 was held in NYC this October and the focus of the night--without question--was cloud computing. It was a high-energy event where opinions were strong and insights uniquely New York. To give you an example of how animated and fun this cloud-centric discussion got, I will share with you one of my favorite quotes of the night: >"Cloud computing is like a beautiful woman that I would love to take out, but do not want to take home."

It's safe to say with passionate and hilarious insights like that, we had a great night of discussion. For my part, I felt one of the very best cloud computing issues that we explored was a question of approach. It seems that the senior executives (CEOs, COOs, etc.) are often very eager to jump into the cloud in one way or the other. However, our CIO/CTO panelists and attendees were for the most part far more cautious in their approach to pursuing the cloud.

That's not to say attendees and panelists were not using the cloud or excited about its benefits. But the event did reveal that a good deal of CIOs feel that much of the frantic push toward the cloud is driven more by marketing than it is by strategic business analysis and decision making.

While the discussion got heated at times, the room agreed when the point was made that cloud computing is not a revolutionary new approach to IT but instead another sourcing strategy for businesses to consider. Attendees agreed whole heartedly with the advice given by the panel that CIOs need to take the reins in the cloud computing exploration. After all, cloud computing benefits businesses very differently based on industry, field and the company's data media and data needs and engagement. One important piece of advice shared was that CIOs need to educate their CEOs on cloud as another sourcing partner and play the lead role in analyzing its business benefits, drawbacks and opportunities.

Several attendees and panelists also underscored the data risks of cloud computing. They felt the risks of giving over company data and intellectual property to a third party provider is high today for several reasons. First, it's high because data is extraordinarily valuable in today's knowledge economy. The breach, loss, theft or corruption of valuable data could be devastating. Secondly, data accessibility is also an issue. Cloud providers not only house data, they control how and when a business accesses their data, which is an important consideration as businesses examine where they want their growing stores of business data to reside.

The NYC event was an excellent end to our 2011 six-city tour of Harvey Nash CIO Survey forums. It reminded us all that while the cloud is still flying high at the top of many IT and innovation agendas, success is not merely a matter of finding the right solution or sourcing strategy. The business strategy and leadership behind a solution determines it success. The CIOs we met during this tour, from New York to California and everywhere in between, are demonstrating their determination and proficiency in playing a very prominent, very vocal role in planning, building and leading business strategy.

A special thank you to the panelists who share their evening and their insights with us at the 2011 CIO Forum in NY:

• Peter Grazioli, VP/CIO, Young Broadcasting Inc.
• John Donnarumma, CIO, GroupM
• Doug Harr, CIO, Splunk
• Michael Kolbrener, CIO, Aurora Bank FSB