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Actually, it's CEOs buying cloud now

by Mark Adams, on November 14, 2014

Original article at

Actually, it's CEOs buying cloud now

Never mind all that guerrilla cloud purchasing in the marketing department and shadow IT cloud storage coming from all the office workers: more and more, the people pushing businesses to adopt cloud services faster than the IT department would do on its own are CEOs, according to NetSuite CEO Zack Nelson.

Business attitudes to cloud have definitely shifted, Nelson's finding when he talks to customers. "Seven years ago the mind-set was 'cloud never' - we'll never use cloud for anything. Five years ago it was 'cloud maybe'. Now by and large, the decisions is 'cloud first' because everyone understands [things have changed]. Five years from now, are you really going to be buying software to run on premises? No one believes that."

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Different areas of a company can have different appetites for cloud services. For instance, sales departments have adopted Salesforce rapidly but ERP systems like the one NetSuite offers as a cloud service might not have such an obvious benefit until you think about trying to do ecommerce in ten or twenty or thirty different countries (all with their own tax regimes) on your own.

Of course if you're doing ecommerce, a lot of your business is in the cloud by default - and that doesn't just mean selling on the web. NetSuite customer Supercell is using its system to handle sales through the Apple app store and Google Play.

"I think a lot of the fantasies we had from the early days of the internet are coming true. The democratization of the ability to make new business models, that the cloud platform has brought, means you can realise the internet dream. You can make something anywhere and sell it anywhere," said NetSuite's Nelson.

But while the push from the workforce to use cloud services is putting pressure on CIOs from below, Nelson sees them getting pressure from above too.

"The CEO is becoming the CIO. The CEO is saying things like, 'We've got to go faster' and 'Where's my data centre?' The CEO is being pressured by the board who are telling them, 'We've got to create new business models'.

"So they go to the CIO and say, 'We need to reinvent things,' and the CIO says, 'Sure, that will take five years because we're on such an ancient system'. Now the CEO is taking things into their own hands. They're saying, 'That's not acceptable, we've got to get a platform we can experiment on'."

Yes, you still need to think about costs and security, risk and compliance, and governance and data sovereignty (although outside of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, NetSuite executives say that question comes up far less often these days). But those are now questions to get answers to rather than reasons not to adopt cloud services at all.

"The conservative 'over my dead body' buyer is getting squeezed in the middle," says Nelson confidently. "And the body may be dead already."