AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Today’s IT Executive is a Chief Change Management Officer

“Success is about dedication. You may not be where you want to be or do what you want to do when you’re on the journey. But you’ve got to be willing to have vision and foresight that leads you to an incredible end.” -Usher

As more and more enterprises consider the cloud, today’s IT executive has an opportunity to assume a new role, one that drives both technical excellence and business value across their entire organization.

At the very least, today’s IT executive needs to provide executive support throughout their organization’s Journey to the cloud. Executive Support is the first of seven best practices I’m writing about in my new Enterprise Cloud Journey series. The remaining six practices are: educate staff, create a culture of experimentation, engage partners, create a center of excellence, implement a hybrid architecture, and implement a cloud-first policy.

There are three areas that I’ve seen IT executives focus their energy on when leading their organizations on the Journey. In this post, I offer a preview into each and go into detail on all of them in the coming weeks. I’m also hosting several sessions at the executive summit at re:Invent next week that will speak to this topic, and I hope you’ll be joining us!

Remember the Journey is an iterative process, and one that will take time. It’s not just about changing your organization’s technology — it’s about changing the way your IT department delivers technology and adds business value. The technology shift and new business model that come with the cloud give you an opportunity to look at job functions, finances, product development methodologies, and much more across your organization. It sets the stage for a once-in-a-career opportunity to be the IT executive that drives transformation for the betterment of the business, whether your business’s motivations are financial, competitive, or both. This means you get to determine what fits and what doesn’t, and create the environment that best suits your business.

I’d argue that today’s IT executive needs to play the role of the Chief Change Management Officer (CCMO™). Technology can no longer be viewed as something that simply supports the business. Today’s IT executive is optimally positioned to understand this and subsequently drive the changes required to keep up with an increasingly competitive and increasingly technical landscape. Across all industries, this CCMO will need to lead change throughout the rest of the executive team and their staff, and decisively manage execution.

Here are three responsibilities that I believe are critical to the success of the CCMO:

Merging business and technology. Cloud adoption offers more than technology shift. It also offers a new way to do business. This is something that everyone at the executive level should care about. It’s the IT executive’s job to consider the executive team and how each respective function is impacted or could be impacted by the Journey. There are both clearly positive outcomes (financial, agility, global reach, etc.) and some challenges (hiring, training, fear of the unfamiliar). In order to position a changing IT environment in a way that will help each executive meet his or her goals, you first need to be empathetic to those goals and challenges, then show how goals will become easier and challenges less daunting on the Journey. (Update: this post is up)

Providing clarity of purpose. Just as it’s important to tie technology to business results together for your executive stakeholders, tying your team’s roles back to the business benefit will help them understand how they fit in — especially when it involves changes to their roles. Early in my executive career, I was somewhat naive in thinking that just because I issued a department-wide directive everyone’s actions would follow. It wasn’t until I identified the things that were really important and communicated them over and over and over again that they started to stick. If anything, the cloud creates a lot of new opportunity for your staff, and as long as they’re willing to learn, there’s a number of new ways they’ll be able to contribute to the business. (Update: this post is up)

Breaking (Making) new rules. Most traditional IT operating models won’t allow you to take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer. In a world where competitors like Uber, AirBnB, DropBox, and many others can come out of nowhere with not only novel technologies but also fast-moving operations, you’re going to want to consider new rules that allow your organization to keep up. This, even more than the other two, is something that has to come from the top IT executive. Unchecked rule-breaking at every level of the organization is probably something worth avoiding.

Over the next few weeks I will go into each of these three points in greater detail. If you have stories that fit in, I’d love to hear them.

Keep building.