February 23


3 ways to use the right cloud solution to shift from cost center to business advisor

Among the challenges of wearing the multiple hats necessary to successfully to manage information technology and security in a mid-market company is the nagging perception of being a cost-center provider of infrastructure services.

Since business has a natural tendency to reduce costs, it increases the challenge of providing the right services, growth and proper level of security to meet the changing demands of business – while doing “more with less” budget, time and staff.

The rise of cloud solutions provides a unique opportunity to continue to provide necessary infrastructure services – but in a way that shifts the role from “provider of IT” to “trusted business advisor.”

Understanding three key business drivers

In my experience, a business is necessarily focused on three core elements:

  1. Make more money (commonly called top line revenue)
  2. Save more money (often called the bottom line)
  3. Use existing resources better (I call that common sense)

Key to making the transition from cost-center to trusted business advisor is understanding how each of these three elements impacts the business – and how the infrastructure, including security, impacts them.

Cloud computing provides a range of benefits; one of the more attractive draws is the opportunity to take advantage of the enterprise-quality security built into some solutions in a way that provides an advantage to the business.

The opportunity goes deeper: shift perception of role and value by engaging the business and involving them in a solution that successfully solves one (or more) of their challenges resulting in:

  • Increased efficiency (and/or reduced costs): with the right planning and implementation, this means it’s actually possible to do more with less, freeing up time and energy to focus on other issues
  • Improved security: selecting a cloud provider that adheres to industry standards to protect information can bolster overall security efforts for a lower cost, all while improving efficiency and benefitting the business
  • Improves the business in a direct and demonstrable way: solving someone else’s problem while also addressing challenges of securing the infrastructure is a smart way to demonstrate a broader role in helping advance the business

Three ways to make the switch from cost-center-provider to trusted business advisor:

  • Look for an opportunity to solve a business challenge, with a twist: prove it is possible to be secure and innovate while meeting one of the three core needs (outlined above)
  • Invest in effective communication: effective communication puts the onus on the communicator to ensure the right message was delivered, mutually understood and acted on; it takes a disciplined approach, but the outcome is what drives success (stay tuned to this blog [RSS feed] and weekly newsletter [subscribe here] for continued focus on effectively communicating value)
  • Translate experience and insight into functional outcomes: instead of talking about technology, place emphasis on the functional outcomes and the experience; use this to both gain buy-in (and recognition as an advisor) and to drive selection of the right solution provider [gain some additional tips from this recent webinar]

This transformation starts with a fundamental shift in mindset. By considering key drivers and the current business challenges, it’s possible to find a cloud provider that increases security, improves operations and directly benefits the business – and your career.

The key is to get started – and you are not alone. You have my support, as well as the support of an entire community of people focused on addressing the needs of mid-market challenges.

How can I help you pick the right path, communicate the value effectively and make the switch?

Leave a note in the comments, schedule some time to speak with me (no strings) or engage with me on twitter (@catalyst).



This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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