CFOs have discovered the big stick of cloud computing

CFOs are more likely to drive cloud adoption than CIOs are, to save money. That’s a painful political reality, but so what? It’s for the right cause

Guess what? It’s not CIO or other leaders who are calling in the cloud consultants these days. It’s the CFOs who are picking up the phone. 

That’s logical if you think about it. CFOs are charged with keeping the company financially healthy. They are not happy about most IT expenses, and they have a deep-seated belief that IT is spending more money than it needs to. So, the concept of cloud computing seems to be a hammer that the CFO can use to beat IT into being much more efficient. 

Although CIOs love to complain about the CFO’s constant harping over expenses, the reality is that IT got its way for a long time. Indeed, many CEOs have confided in me that they felt that their IT shop was holding them hostage. I’ve heard stories about IT stopping mergers due to that amount of work needed to integrate the systems. And about building new data centers about every five years to deal with the growing need for data storage that reduces earnings per share, and causes CEOs some tense times at shareholder meetings.

IT is of course not evil — far from it. Most are moving in directions that they truly believe in. However, although we’re seeing progress, it’s still hard for many IT organizations to consider concepts such as cloud computing that reduces their span of control. 

Enter the CFO. CFOs are the ultimate objective party because that they don’t understand anything about IT and so don’t have a dog in the technology hunt. They just want to spend less money so the company can make more. They don’t really care if it’s cloud computing or voodoo.

The CFOs read technology vision as dollars and cents, not as span of controls They are focused on doing things as efficiently as possible, so the business can do what the business needs to do: return shareholder equality.

As a result, many IT organizations are getting pushed to the cloud by the CFO, and to a lesser extent by the CEO or COO. That reality is likely to cause some political turmoil; in fact, I’ve been in the middle of a few such fights in the last few years.

Whoever is going to do what’s best for the business is always who I will listen to. I don’t care who they are. Neither should you.