Sunday, September 01, 2013

Cloud Software Lets CIOs Make Little Bets

In the book 'Little Bets', author Peter Sims talks about how comedian Chris Rock prepares for his comedy shows. Mr. Rock does not try out new jokes in front of large audiences first. Instead he tries his jokes in front of small audiences in relatively obscure comedy clubs in unannounced sessions. He only picks the jokes that work for his subsequent shows in front of large audiences. I noticed similar behavior in a few CIOs and IT Directors that I worked with in the past months.

There is a set of very respected, talented and visionary CIOs who recognize the power of cloud software as a tool to solve current business problems, free up capital for strategic projects and plant the seeds for ongoing management innovation. Such CIOs are able to articulate the value of the cloud to their colleagues and get their support to make big bets in the cloud.

There is another set of experienced CIOs and IT Directors who are a bit more cautious and want proof before making large commitments. Such people  may have made big bets in other areas recently and may not be willing to make more bold moves once more.

While cloud software makes it easy for the CIO who wants to make a big bet to do so, the technology also enables the more cautious CIOs make little bets and test the waters without making large commitments. For example a CIO who wants to test cloud software for people management can start with an area such as performance management for all employees to see how cloud software works for his or her organization. Once his team and his business colleagues understand the advantages and disadvantages of the cloud, they can expand the cloud foot print of their people management software to solve immediate business problems facing their organization. For example a few of the CIOs I worked with decided to start with recruiting execution and learning software in the cloud because they were anticipating talent shortages in their industry. Another set of CIOs started with workforce planning and workforce analytics in the cloud because they wanted insight into their organizations before making investments in other people management software modules.

I personally prefer the little bets approach. Making a small bet, creating a small success and building on the success works for most organizations. Contrary to popular belief, I believe that even visionary CIOs make multiple little bets to test the waters in the cloud before making bold investments.

By the way,  these experiments can be conducted within weeks. Not months. Modules such as workforce analytics and performance management can be implemented and rolled out within weeks. My recommendation to all organizations big and small is to make a little bet quickly, learn from it and build on it. It is much better than demanding your software providers to prove that the cloud works for your organizations. Frankly, they are not in the best position to say what will work for your organization. Some unscrupulous ones may even say what you want to hear just to sell you their software. Go ahead. Make a little bet. Find out for yourself.

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