Innovation & Insights from Cloud World Forum by Matthew Mikell and Jim Stikeleather
Innovation & Insights from Cloud World Forum
In London, Dell Chief Innovation Officer Jim Stikeleather has just left the stage on his presentation
and we caught up with him for further insights. Jim is an author of several books on transformation
and his most recent work includes Business Innovation in the Cloud: Executing on Innovation with
Cloud Computing. For those who could not attend Cloud World Forum, Jim offered these comments
on his presentation and what we can expect from cloud.
Q1. You presented, “Is Cloud Meeting your Expectations? Today’s Results and Tomorrows Promises.”
How would you rate cloud in meeting expectations of business users and an IT audience? Is it living
up to the hype?
A1. Cloud is still one of those terms whose meaning varies based upon the last person you spoke to,
especially if they are a vendor of either cloud services or on premise equipment / services. With that in
mind, it is not meeting anyone’s unreasonable expectations yet and it is exceeding everyone’s simple
expectations. There is a famous assertion called Amara’s law that states we seriously overestimate to
potential of a new technology in the short run, and grossly underestimate its impact in the long run.
Cloud is now different. For those who simply thought cloud was going to be a better, faster cheaper
way to do what IT is doing today – well your vision is way too small. While the scale economics of
cloud means it will eventually always be faster, better and cheaper doing the things we do today in IT,
that would be a waste of its potential.
Q2. Do you see organizations having a larger innovation challenge or a cloud challenge? Can one
help the other?
A2. Cloud, and IT in general, is an enabler – it provides a capability that the organization can apply to
create and execute on new business models, new business process, new products and services. SO
the primary challenge is innovation – new ideas that are forward thinking, feasible, viable (can be
done repeatedly) and valuable (someone will exchange value – money, times, resources, reputation,
something) for it. That being said – cloud, and it in general, offers potentiality, Challenges
assumptions, changes the economic equations that create the fertile field in which innovations can be
planted, tilled and harvested. It is a tool, and as Grady Booch said – a fool with a tool is still a fool. It is
incumbent upon IT to help the business figure it out.
Q3. An Economist Insight Study found that 47% of CEOs did not think CIOs were being strategic in
the business. Why is new aspect demanded of the CIO?
A3. I suspect it isn’t really a new demand; the CIO always had an important opportunity to fulfill in
strategically supporting the c-suite. What has changed is that it has become more glaringly obvious
when that role isn’t being performed. A small 2-person start up in a garage can turn to their social
networks when encountering a problem they cannot solve on their own and within minutes or hours
have hundreds and even thousands of experts working on it for them. The CIO (along with the rest of
the C-suite) have to engage together to figure out how to duplicate or surpass that feat in order for
the organization to remain relevant (and in business).
Q4. What can CIOs do to move from back-end of innovation to front-end and be seen as strategic?
A4. The key thing CIOs have to do is learn to separate the delivery of IT from the application of IT to
the business. Each time a CIO starts to do something, they need to ask themselves 3 questions! 1)
Does this create value for your customers? 2) Aare we or can we be the best in the world at this? 3)
Are we specifically required to do it ourselves for legal or regulatory reasons?
If the answer to at least one of those questions isn’t yes, you shouldn’t be doing it. The CIO can ask
those same questions every time some part of the business undertakes a new initiative. Focus on
what is really important – customer value creation and without a customer nothing else matters or
will exist. Too many companies forget that.
To learn more of what Jim Stikeleather says on innovation you can find his comments on Twitter
@stikeyoda or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZMJaWcOcIw