Beyond Metrics: Convince Your CFO to Invest in Cloud
Cloud adoption is no longer unfamiliar territory for businesses. According to the IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study 2014, almost three-quarters of organizations have applications or infrastructure running in the cloud today, up from 57 percent in 2012.
As a result, most businesses have moved beyond the simple cloud adoption phase to creating a broader cloud strategy. Rather than asking, "Is the cloud right for us?" IT departments and other business leaders now seek ways to integrate and optimize their cloud investments and look for how to balance end-user needs with corporate security.
However, not every CEO or CFO immediately sees the benefit or need to shift IT budget to invest in cloud solutions – especially when their on-premise datacenter is humming just fine. If CIOs and other IT stakeholders want C-suite buy-in for new enterprise cloud solutions – from storage to infrastructure to productivity tools – they'll need to demonstrate not only the cloud's financial benefit, but also its value to the organization's operations.
Three Business Cases for Proving Cloud's ROI
Making the case for cloud, especially to those who manage the bottom line, requires more than capacity, scalability, and utilization metrics. Instead of dwelling strictly on the numbers, pro-cloud IT leaders should take a more holistic approach, highlighting how a more mature cloud strategy benefits the overall business, IT department, and end-user employees.
Case #1: It's good for the business. The biggest financial argument in favor of cloud solutions is they offer a low upfront cost compared with on-premise alternatives. It’s the “lease-versus-own” debate. Leasing cloud storage space on a monthly basis, for example, or paying for services per usage, presents a low but sustained investment, compared with the significant upfront costs of implementing or upgrading an on-premise solution.Over time, however, on-premise solutions demand regular maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting issues – each of which drain additional time and money, as well as in-house IT resources. Cloud-based systems are centrally updated, so businesses always have access to the most recent technology. They’re easily scalable and can be more quickly configured to match specific use cases without additional investment. With cloud, businesses also reduce their risk of downtime and its associated costs.The cloud's cost-controlling advantages ultimately lend the business more flexibility to expand, pursue new customers or markets, and innovate their own services.
Case #2: It's good for IT. In more ways than one, investing in sophisticated cloud solutions lets the IT department work faster, smarter, and more strategically. Swapping out on-premise systems for cloud counterparts means IT staff spend less time on maintaining and stretching new life out of antiquated machines. That translates into hours they can devote to more strategic projects that actually assist the business.
In the long run, this efficiency contributes to helping IT departments evolve from being the company's help desk or technology gatekeepers to true strategic partners.
Case #3: It's good for end users. IT and financial benefits aside, cloud presents multiple advantages for an organization's end users – the employees. The more robust cloud (or hybrid) infrastructure a business has in place, the more agile it is to meet the modern needs and expectations of end users. Being able to offer single sign-on for enterprise apps, or provide secure remote access so staff can work from anywhere delivers the flexible work environment that today’s employees crave. These cloud platforms not only help staff work more efficiently and collaboratively, but also safely. Teams can share ideas (and files) without keeping IT staff up at night.
Convincing CFOs to allocate a larger slice of the corporate budget to cloud investments requires more than a few data points and pie charts. There are a number of arguments to be made for the cloud's value add to any area of the enterprise, and IT leaders and other internal cloud advocates should make all of them.
About The Author
As vice president of information technology, Francis Li manages the internal IT strategy for Softchoice while supporting all Internal IT functions which include infrastructure, enterprise systems development, eCommerce, Business Intelligence and CRM. Mr. Li joined Softchoice in 2002 and progressed through various senior roles including director of marketing, director of telesales and director of Information Technology. In his most recent appointment as director of IT, Mr. Li was instrumental in guiding the development of Softchoice’s CRM platform and internal collaboration strategy. Mr. Li has an honors degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Toronto.