How to Convince your CEO on Cloud Computing in Six Steps

Cloud computing is a hot topic,a major buzzword and every professional is probably making use of one or multiple tools in the cloud, from mail to applications or the latest startup offering. Cloud computing may not be the easiest sell, as you go up the ladder, but when you make it abundantly clear that cloud services can help your Firm in a big way, they’re bound to listen. I’ve been in a similar situation where we were exploring opportunities of cloud computing versus in-house. It’s a journey that many of you can relate to.

I came across this article by SAP and their five steps to convince a CEO on cloud computing. The one I thought they missed, though they refer to it at the end of the article a bit, is my addition to the list, and how I started back then the journey. I am also pointing out to the  business-centric three step change process we use to successfully implement new technologies.

The first step is my addition:

1. Know the business. This is crucial, you can’t go to your CEO and talk about applications, technology and what more if you don’t understand very well the business your company is in, the stakeholder landscape within your organization. Who do you also need to convince to have a stable position? Is your business that dependable on mobility and what more that cloud computing is a necessity at this point of time in the life-cycle of the company? You need to think holistically, from a business-perspective otherwise it won’t work.

The following five steps are from the SAP article:

2. Keep it short and simple (K.I.S.S), “this may seem like common sense, however your CEO gets a lot of information and great ideas thrown at them day in and day out. Your pitch should be short. This means you’ll have to do the homework ahead of time.”

3. Weigh up both the benefits and risks. “CEOs know there is no such thing as a one size fits all fix. So make sure you include not only the benefits, but also the risks your business may encounter if they switch to cloud computing”.

4. Transforming your IT to a strategic team. “If you decide to go with a public or hybrid cloud, you’ll be able to outsource a lot of the maintenance and day to day activities that typically fill up your IT team’s agendas. In turn, this will give them freedom to work on strategic initiatives.”

5. Insist upon a timeline. “Cloud computing comes with a major benefit – you can get up and running relatively quickly. Like as quickly as going to Amazon and logging in quickly. Bring your CEO a timeline and an easy project to get started with. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, starting with an easy project will safeguard the rest of your company’s transition.”

6. Evangelize about mobility. “Every CEO either travels, or rarely has the time to sit and digest the information at their desk. So really talk up the mobility that comes with a cloud computing transition. It’s the very reason why its gaining so much attention. By using cloud based apps, your employees have more mobility and freedom. They can be connected and collaborative at all times of the day, without any obstacles”. 

I agree with all the points, expect for point 4 because it wasn’t an issue back then. The latter point about mobility is only important if it is a benefit and that should be tackled straight away in point two.

Business-centric three step process

A good way to get approval and going onward is the following overarching process we follow in change initiatives:

  1. Understand the business needs and objectives
  1. Define a few targeted pilot projects to test and validate the opportunities. This approach offers a low risk way to confirm the real opportunity and organizational readiness. The pilot process is highly iterative and fully engages involved professionals. The outcome of the pilot projects will provide the necessary insights and business case to support a well-informed decision to progress with integrating technologies in the organization or not.
  1. Define and execute the program to integrate solutions.

The benefits of this 3-step process  are higher speed, lower risk and a better outcome versus traditional IT implementation processes. Furthermore, this approach promotes sharing and collaboration and leads to a better mutual understanding among the team members of their respective missions, goals and needs.

It’s one thing to convice your CEO, the other is to convince him of actual business results.