In an age of rapid digitalization, CEOs, CFOs and other members of the C-suite are committed to using technology to increase operational efficiency, improve customer experiences and drive revenues. More than 75 percent of executives surveyed for the Forbes 2021 CxO Growth Survey said they plan to “double down” on technology investments over the next two years.
Executives may understand the business-critical nature of IT, but that doesn’t make them technology experts. According to a recent survey by the MIT Sloan School of Management, only 9 percent of executives are confident they have the skills necessary to lead their companies in a digital economy. Even those with some technical proficiency admit they need advice and guidance from experienced IT pros.
That guidance is particularly necessary when organizations are exploring cloud initiatives. When executive expectations don’t match IT realities, cloud projects can flounder. In fact, more than a third of U.S. businesses report they have failed to realize anticipated benefits from their cloud migrations.
Very often, the disconnect is the result of poor communication. Non-technical executives might generally support cloud projects, but often don’t fully understand how the technology will deliver specific improvements. This is sometimes because IT leaders fail to make a convincing business case for cloud investments, relying instead on industry-specific jargon and highly technical language when pitching projects.
Getting C-suite support for cloud initiatives requires a different approach. Because the cloud touches every aspect of the business, IT leaders must be able to link cloud spending to specific business processes that support the organization’s overall mission.
Here are some of the ways to discuss cloud initiatives with C-suite executives:
- Maintain a business focus. Before detailing IT benefits, address specific business outcomes the cloud project can deliver. For example, describe how the cloud can improve supply chain efficiency instead of focusing on cloud interfaces and monitoring platforms.
- Show and tell. A proof of concept that demonstrates how a cloud service or application works in real-world conditions is a valuable tool for demonstrating that a proposed solution meets a business need.
- Be specific. Clearly define the resources that will be required to produce a desired business outcome. Provide a complete list of all incremental projects, including a summary of the people, processes, applications, hardware and services that will be needed for each.
- Set expectations. Describe what’s possible — and what isn’t. According to Wakefield Research, 82 percent of IT leaders say their companies’ execs don’t fully understand how the cloud works, and 76 percent say they underestimate the time and cost of cloud management. When business leaders have unrealistic expectations about a project, it can result in misaligned objectives, disappointment and friction.
- Don’t focus on cost alone. Cost reduction can be a compelling reason for moving workloads and applications to the cloud. However, cloud cost overruns are fairly common, often because companies don’t account for secondary costs for things like readiness assessments, connectivity upgrades, security and skills development.
Aligning cloud initiatives with specific business outcomes is a key to winning C-suite support. A trusted provider such as Verteks can help you create such alignment. We understand how to present technical information to non-technical audiences, and can help you build a solid business case for moving to the cloud.