Cloud Leaders Series: Michael Skok on Bring Your Own Cloud

Today, for employees in the corporate world, it’s more about what these devices bring into the enterprise: Cloud Services.

Posted by Lou Guercia on December 11, 2013 at 1:58pm

I’m pleased to continue the Cloud Leaders series with Michael Skok, Partner, North Bridge Venture Partners.

For the past three years, Michael has spearheaded, in partnership with dozens of cloud leaders, the Future of Cloud Computing Survey, examining the drivers, inhibitors and opportunities in cloud computing.

In his role at North Bridge, Michael partners with entrepreneurs helping them from idea to company to market leader. Before joining North Bridge in 2002, Michael founded, led and attracted over $100 million in private equity to several successful software companies. His professional experience spans areas such as Big Data & Analytics, Document Management & Collaboration, Security and 3D & CAD/CAM. As a VC, Michael has backed and built teams that have created a couple of billion dollars of value while focusing on large, market-changing technologies and disruptive business models such as SaaS, Cloud Computing, Open Source and Mobile. Current representative investments include Acquia, Apperian, Demandware (NYSE:DWRE), Salsify and Unidesk, as well as Actifio and Revolution Analytics.

Michael Skok, Partner, North Bridge Venture Partners.

1. What is your biggest prediction of how the cloud will change IT and business in the next three years?

In taking a close look at this year’s survey one of the most significant findings is that the corporate emphasis on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is somewhat misplaced. The fact is -- it’s rarely about the device anymore. We’ve moved beyond that. Today, for employees in the corporate world, it’s more about what these devices bring into the enterprise: Cloud Services. The relentless consumerization of IT has moved from BYOD to Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC). An example of this is how people are taking cloud services like LinkedIn from home to work and expecting those services to work seamlessly with technologies like their office CRM systems. As a result, LinkedIn has built a service for Salesforce.com, integrating its contact networks and social network with that CRM platform. So whether it’s Cloud Services like LinkedIn or others like Dropbox, Google Docs or Evernote, I believe BYOC is here to stay and will be a very significant force in the enterprise to drive business and on the IT side spurring adaptation to allow employees to freely consume these cloud services.

2. Can you share one prediction on how the roles of CTOs, CIOs and CMOs will co-mingle in the next three years?

Today, it’s business, not IT, that is driving cloud adoption – business stakeholders are more rapidly adopting cloud solutions because they are experiencing faster time to market, faster response times to competitive conditions and a faster return on their investment.

As a result there is intense pressure on CIOs, CTOs and CMOs to work together to ensure business has the applications it needs to be effective and to increase productivity because of the clear ROI these initiatives bring. They can’t put the IT needs for things such as systems management ahead of the line-of-business priorities for SaaS applications such as CRM, content marketing, etc. Instead these IT initiatives need to clearly support business outcomes. Second, they must enable the organization to function effectively with whatever information processing and back-office systems provide a necessary foundation for the business.

On one hand, facilitating this need for integration of business and IT is the fact that cloud services are becoming increasingly richer and deeper because they are being built with open API access. This helps CIOs, CTOs and CMOs “mash up” previously discrete services into a more complete business process. On the other hand, this trend will necessitate a profound cultural change in how many organizations buy cloud services. Instead of siloed purchases that meet the needs of a particular business unit, organizations must consider their ultimate value proposition to customers and then choose cloud services that best help them fulfill that promise. Expect to see many leading CIOs, CTOs and CMOs driving that whole process in unison.

3. What new data ownership models will dominate in two to three years given the converging role of IT and business?

Another important trend that we have predicted is the shift to making everything available “as a service.” Within this environment IT departments need to figure out what we call their “outservice strategy.” In fact, the rise of these cloud formations around various services was something we first predicted in our 2012 cloud survey. So IT departments will need to determine which services to outsource to cloud providers that offer best-of-breed solutions and which ones to keep in house. This presumes a shared model where companies will have to decide what data is mission critical and forms the basis for competitive advantage versus what data is less critical and thus able to be put into the cloud. It will involve some strategic considerations and tradeoffs between control and speed/flexibility. Decision-making around this process will necessitate yet another cultural change in how they select what data to keep where and how to leverage cloud services as a business innovation platform.

Business leaders will be required to bridge the gap between rapid transformation and ensuring the required performance levels. It is this issue of leadership that will become far more critical than any issue arising from the management of technical complexity. As a result, many of the new information officers of the enterprise will be business leaders first, technology enablers second and everything else a distant third. It’s an exciting time.

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For more detail on the survey please visit: The 2013 Future of Cloud Computing.

Michael can be reached at mjskok@northbridge.com, on Twitter at @mjskok and on his website www.mjskok.com

Look for new insights each week and be sure to catch up on predictions by past Cloud Leaders:

Dana Gardner, Louis Columbus, Michael Krigsman, Denis Pombriant, Umberto Miletti, Brad Wilson, Esteban Kolsky, Rory Cameron, Jeff Kaplan, Brian Vellmure, Roger Krackoff, Mike Kean, Tony DiBenedetto, Larry Augustin, Clint Oram, Chuck Coulson, Gary Peterson, Tom Masotto, Matt Quinn, Donald Farmer, Ditlev Bredahl, James Marzola

Lou Guercia is President and CEO of Scribe Software. Connect with him on Twitter at @LouGuercia.

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