Why Cloud Doesn’t Equal Savings for a Finance-Driven Mind

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The biggest roadblock in cloud adoption everywhere is said to be lack of knowledge at an executive level. Technologically speaking, business leaders don’t always know what’s good for them in the long term. Clinging to outdated systems and processes is a sure way get left behind. Worst of all, the finance sector doesn’t feel it needs any transformative effects whatsoever.

The recent Cloud Business Summit held in New York saw financial and IT leaders debate the ripple effects of cloud adoption in corporate financial systems and processes. Finance is not an area in sync with technology, and nor should it, according to those working in this segment.

Cautious by nature

Bruce Guptill, who moderated the panel discussion, said that while enterprises everywhere are becoming more cloud literate by the day, the finance side is a completely different story. Finance leaders are rewarded for being cautious, and this is not going to change because the results of being conservative are often encouraging.

Some core aspects can be moved from on-premises to cloud, but not the stuff that has to undergo compatibility scrutiny, and other vetting processes. “…there still is a natural hesitancy or caution, because if you start messing with finance, you start messing with the lifeblood of company,” said Guptill.

IT and finance operate at different speeds. Chief financial officers (CFO) are among the business leaders with an important say in operational matters, and they seem to fear change more than their peers. Getting finance types to warm up to the cloud is no walk in the park, and Jane Aboyoun, vice president of technology for the New York Public Library, knows it. She is convinced it’s not about the technology, but about the mentality.

“The technology piece really was not the roadblock,” she said. “It requires […] a process change, a behavioral change, and a cultural change.” Cultural changes are not on the finance department’s agenda, leaving it to IT to infuse tech-driven benefits without disrupting all of the business at once.

Perhaps not surprisingly, we keep hearing that the CEO (chief executive officer) and CIO (chief information officer) roles are beginning to merge, with one beefing up on digital and the other on business. CFOs have real reasons to worry, though. Their jobs could be completely automated within the next 20 years, according to recent studies. When it comes to their professional services, financial leaders can bark, but only this loud.

The irony

Ironically, one of the first benefits experienced by any institution that has moved all or part of its operations to the cloud is savings. In some cases, the operational costs have been so dramatically reduced that the shift triggered a cultural change within the respective organization. According to three separate surveys conducted earlier this year, adoption of cloud computing services is on the rise, cloud costs continue to fall, and the savings generated by strategical implementation of SaaS, Iaas, PaaS, etc. are higher than ever before.

451 Research said the actual cost per hour of cloud services for a typical company was $1.72 for a “basket of cloud services” in October. Today, that number is down to $1.68 per hour, and dropping. Similar studies uncovered that “improving IT efficiencies and reducing costs” are the primary goals for the vast majority of organizations investing in the cloud. Even though many businesses opt to redistribute the saved cash towards additional functionality and services, the savings are real and yours to decide where they go.

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