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Cloud computing shouldn't drive change but follow it
Cloud shouldn't be a technological decision but should be determined by an organisation's strategy - that's the only way to success
There's a paradox at the heart of cloud computing. It's seen as an IT issue but it's not really about IT at all. Of course, on one level it's very much about delivering a certain level of IT performance but more fundamentally, the cloud philosophy allows managers to transform the way that an organisation's employees are supported.
That's why the key person for cloud computing is not the IT manager but the chief executive/managing director: the vision for the organisation comes first, the IT transformation comes second.
Which is why the cloud implementation at Sunderland City Council was so impressive. This was not driven by a need for a cheese-paring CIO to shave costs or for a cash-conscious bean-counter to carry on a private war with techies, but was undertaken as a way to radically overhaul council services and reinvent the very council itself.
Our interview with Tom Baker covers many of the technical details of the rollout but the unsung hero is Dave Smith, the council CEO. It was he who decided that the city needed a transformation of its economy, the cloud followed on from there.
Baker himself says that if you don't get 'buy-in' from other departments and from managers then cloud can't really work as a concept. It's something that a great many other organisations need to learn from - cloud computing should support organisational change, not the other way around.
This going to be a hard lesson for many to grasp - particularly in local government (which have tended to be slow to change) - but it's a lesson that many organisations have got to learn. If business leaders show a lead, then the rest will follow. Sunderland is undergoing a massive transformation but it's a transformation supported by all parts of the council. How many organisations can truly say the same?