The Cloud’s Cultural Obstacles

Posted on August 4, 2009


Did you happen to catch David Garner’s piece on InformationWeek regarding culture as it pertains to cloud computing?

If you haven’t (and cloud computing is of interest to you), you should take a read because it provides a very important key insight.  Here is the key phrase that caught my attention (in bold):

Business decision makers don’t understand the potential value of private clouds, said 76% of surveyed IT executives.

The most-cited benefit (41%) of private cloud computing is its perceived ability to improve efficiency. Other benefits mentioned were: “resource scalability,” cited by 18%; “cutting costs,” 17%; “experimenting with cloud computing,” 15%; and “improving IT responsiveness,” 9%.

The survey, conducted by grid and cloud provider Platform Computing, detected a major stumbling block for deployment: 76% of the IT executives believe that business decision makers don’t understand the potential value of private clouds.

This should not be a surprising finding for IT and business innovators that have been around for a while.  For me, it’s reminiscent of the early to mid ’90s when I worked at MetLife.

I was an early advocate within MetLife to get the company on the Internet, and during that time had the opportunity to work with Chan Suh, now CEO of, and Joel Maloff, an Internet consultant at the time.

The most fascinating conversations (for me) were not with the very knowledgeable Chan and Joel, but with the other stakeholders of the company.

Even after numerous meetings and conversations, it was clear that most did not understand the implications of what was unfolding before their very eyes.

Though to be fair, technologists often make assumptions that was is clear to them is as clear to business executives.  It’s not.  They simply don’t think in such ways, in fact, the training curriculum for business majors is fairly dry and straightforward, so one shouldn’t expect much of the foresight and creativity to come from traditional business types.

Likewise, IT executives can only spoon feed so much information, and speak in so many languages – technology, business, finance, legal, etc.  An effort to “get it” has to be made by the business executives.

Eventually, they’ll come around, just like they did at MetLife when the value of the concept becomes increasingly apparent, or when they see the competition pulling ahead.

So what does this mean to those companies engaged in cloud computing today?

  1. You have a steep education curve before you.
  2. You “get it” so you’re way ahead of the game.  That’s great news for you!
  3. The fact that so many business leaders don’t “get it” presents a terrific opportunities to take market share from them (this last one being a metric business executives understand very well).

If you haven’t seen the article yet, here’s a link, ” ‘Culture’ Biggest Hurdle To Cloud Computing“.

-Tune The Future-

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