How CIOs Can Use Rogue Clouds to Their Advantage

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

It’s usually second nature for CIOs to push back on intrusions into their networks that aren’t vetted through their process. Users putting corporate data on Dropbox or using Google Documents to work from home are examples of this, as is when a department puts its own ad-hoc application on Amazon Web Services. To some of them, these rogue clouds are just the latest threat to the CIOs control over the company’s IT.

Rogue clouds are even more dangerous than they seem. They could be the tipping point that truly wrests control of IT expenditures out of the CIO’s hands. While tech expenditures outside of IT are usually minimal, Gartner Group estimates that non-IT-sourced cloud technology will balloon non-IT spending to 35 percent of a company’s total tech budget. After all, when a workgroup wants a new feature or application that’s available from a cloud provider, it’s just a click and a corporate payment card away. 

The democratization of IT spending through unsupported cloud applications has some real drawbacks, too. These applications interrupt a business’s continuity and create real security risks. However, instead of pushing back against them, CIOs can turn them around into a net benefit.

When users create their own cloud, they’re teaching themselves about the value of the cloud and how to use it. This generates demand for the services and skills that the IT department can offer. In the long run, this can potentially increase the influence, importance, and budget of the CIO.

For better or for worse, these users are also willingly turning themselves into guinea pigs. Instead of shutting down these applications, CIOs can use them as ways to devise new strategies and test new technologies in the real world. While the CIO reaps the strategic benefits, the business units take on the cost and responsibility of implementing them and dealing with any failures.

Rogue clouds are also some of the best feedback that CIOs can get on how their department is serving their internal customers’ needs. When employees turn to cloud-based solutions, they’re sending a message that the internal IT infrastructure isn’t giving them the right tools. Looking at rogue clouds can tell a CIO where he or she should focus development efforts for the future.