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CIO strives to tie cloud metrics to business value

 

Fine-tuning cloud metrics: A checklist

But just as CIOs have adopted the idea that it’s not about technology for technology’s sake when it comes to bringing new products to the enterprise, Phelps said cloud for the sake of cloud also doesn’t cut it. The strategy has to be about what cloud — its features and its attributes — actually does for the business.

That means using cloud metrics that cover more than the potential reduction of data center bills.

The customer satisfaction of users (the company employees) is one measurement Phelps uses. “That should be a key lens through which a company looks at their cloud strategy,” he said.

Meeting changing customer expectations also factors into his cloud metrics.

“I believe that [cloud] definitely helps to make employees much more productive,” he explained. “And these days, with the growing Millennial workforce, their expectations are to start a job and have [immediate] access to key applications. They’re used to downloading an app from the app store and to start interacting with that app to get business done. To tell someone it will take three to six months to add functionality is not acceptable anymore.”

Phelps said another key cloud metric is time to market. “You can rapidly provision a service to the business with the cloud versus on premises,” he said. “You’re not taking the same time to identify requirements, design it, go through testing and do a lot of customization. There are a lot of services that you can procure very quickly and the contractual process is easy.”

Security, compliance and risk factor heavily into his cloud metrics, he said, in particular, whether the company wants the additional exposure that could come with putting some applications in the public cloud.

Similarly, he said he also thinks about the increased risk that comes from on-demand self-service models where anyone with a credit card can purchase an app for corporate use — and the cost of deploying an IT governance structure to mitigate the risk.

Other considerations that go into his cloud strategy include:

  • the value of having staff engineers focused on building software for corporate services versus the value they’d bring if their time were spent on developing Laserfiche products for the company’s clients;
  • the need for applications to support collaboration, as well as easily interact with other applications, in order to prevent business areas from working in silos. “They have to connect with their customers, their clients, their business partners. That’s driving a need for cloud services that have APIs that allow for integration,” he said, as is the growing use of data to flow smoothly for analytics programs;
  • the costs and potential downside of being tied in with any particular cloud vendor. “You can’t avoid contract lock-in,” Phelps said, adding that on-premises applications also require multiyear commitments; and
  • the fact that cloud bills aren’t always lower than on-premises computing and whether the cost to move or replace some applications, such as proprietary software, is worth it. “If it’s not broke, why try to fix it?” he said.

Phelps said the expectation is that his company will continue to move more to the cloud, but only where the cloud metrics show the move makes good business sense.

“Cloud has been around for a few years now and the CIOs I know have a pragmatic approach. Their cloud strategy is aligned to business drivers they’re not chasing the next shiny object,” he said.

 

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