Changes in the Clouds

By on Dec 19, 2019 in People, Technology

Cloud services have changed the roles of executives. CIOs implement fewer on-premises applications. Their technical infrastructure needs have evolved within the Internet of Things. CFOs now mold their capital expenditures pitches to address operations. In the center of those changes floats the cloud, and with it, the continually evolving roles of executives.

The Balance Sheet caught up with Shawn Cardner, executive VP, multifamily operations and IT, Grubb Properties, to discuss the evolution on leadership.

“The real estate industry, which arguably was slower to adopt technology, now can’t escape its influence,” explains Cardner. “Almost all multi-family marketing is digital, and big data now plays a role in many firms’ daily decision-making and long-term asset strategies. Firms that wish to remain competitive must integrate the CIO role into their overarching business strategy in order to reduce costs and increase revenue.”

Benefits of the cloud for CIOs and CFOs

The cloud offers several benefits for CIOs and CFOs, specifically.

Scalable Solutions Through the cloud, CIOs can capitalize on features and services for small and medium-sized companies that were previously available to large companies. “Being able to play in the same sandbox as the largest of our peers allows us to be competitive in spaces where we might not otherwise be able,” says Cardner.

Faster Implementations Finance teams are not dependent upon IT for support. As a result, implementations are rolled out with less friction during office hours and more work can be accomplished, faster.

Specialized Software Support When using Yardi Cloud Services and Yardi Voyager to manage the general ledger, for example, the IT team does not invest resources in maintaining the accounting software. Updates and security are managed off-site by Yardi. Finance owns the application but supports the business processes in a more specialized manner.

Cardner adds, “It’s worth noting that different challenges exist. There are fewer technical skills required of my team with a full-service solution like Yardi.  There are, however, more nuanced soft skills and relationship skills required of us, which are sometimes difficult to find within technology circles.”

Shorter Queues for IT With Cloud-based applications, there is less demand for IT to manage hardware or software. This often results in lower on-premises infrastructure costs.

CFOs and their departments experience improved time to value, greater autonomy, and maintain ownership of software without being hampered by implementation or management during office hours. CIOs and their teams reduce hardware and software support, may decrease total cost of ownership, and can focus on specialized tasks.

Addressing the risks

Conversations about the cloud inevitably include risk management, security, and compliance. CIOs, CFOs, and COOs must collaborate proactively mitigate risks.

“There is a tendency to recoil from the cloud when news of breaches occurs because of the bad press and notoriety.  I’m reminded, however, of an IT saying, ‘The cloud is just someone else’s computer.’ An open port on a firewall turns an entire network into an unwanted cloud service, so diligence and thoroughness are necessary, regardless,” explains Cardner.

He continues, “Modern security technology is quite robust, whether on-premise or in the cloud.  The weak link of security in today’s age is people. Malware, ransomware, phishing and much of all data theft and loss are a result of improper employee conduct or inadequate employee training.  When vetting a new cloud provider, that’s where my focus lies.”

The future of leadership

The value of infrastructure continues to be an integral part of CIO responsibilities. Even with available outsourced and cloud-based solutions, CIO’s still need to consider infrastructure and its strategy fundamental to the job.

Yet now more than ever before, CIOs are becoming strategists. The emphasis shifts to discerning which services an organization needs to thrive rather than focusing on infrastructure.

“Traditionally, CIO’s were strictly service providers and, in many organizations, didn’t sit at the table where strategy decisions were made.  However, the proliferation of digital technology across and within organizations now mandates a level of strategic interaction between CIO’s and other C-level executives,” says Cardner.

In the age of the cloud, executive relationships continue to evolve in tandem. An article in CIO Magazine suggests that CIOs supervise operating expenditures and business investments rather than capital expenditures. As such, they are bcoming partners with other executives rather than supplicants.

Join the conversation on the changing roles of executives in the Yardi LinkedIn discussion group.