Business managers are now ahead of their IT colleagues in embracing cloud computing, according to the the latest annual State of the CIO survey from CIO Magazine. Nearly 60% of business leaders see the role of head of IT as a "cloud wrangler", orchestrating various external providers, compared with just 50% of CIOs.
But business leaders don't expect cloud services to support "business as usual". Far from it, in fact: they're expecting their IT departments to play a growing role in driving innovation and collaboration in business operations.
For example, twice as many senior business managers as CIOs want IT teams to be trained to focus more on external customers—perhaps even accompanying sales staff on customer visits or working for short rotations in customer service teams—so they can better identify where the business pain points are and propose solutions. As part of this shift, business managers say, IT staff also need to become much more open to listening to ideas from non-IT colleagues for both new services and improvements to existing ones.
One other thing that's also clear from the survey is that business leaders are no longer as impressed as they once were with "quick wins" from the IT team that solve tactical issues. They're looking for sustainable change and for the IT team to provide the business with "capabilities" rather than specific pieces of technology—which is why so many business executives see cloud computing as key.
They want workers to have the same "capabilities" and user experience no matter where they are or what device they're using, while these "capabilities" need to support a culture of collaboration and innovation within the organisation as well as deliver efficiency gains. As one of the CIOs interviewed for the survey says, "We can save costs all day long, but IT should also build the company."