The Cloud

Sounds Great! (But What Is It?)

Surveys indicate that CFOs have high hopes for cloud computing, but don't know much about it.
Kim GirardMarch 1, 2011

CFOs have high hopes for cloud computing, even though they don’t appear to know much about it.

Such are the findings from two recent surveys conducted by CFO. Asked about their current use of cloud-computing services, a majority of senior finance executives either have no plans to pursue it in the short term, or are doing so very tentatively. Nearly a third admit that they aren’t even sure what “cloud computing” really means. Yet, when asked how cloud computing might affect their company’s approach to IT longer term, almost half say they believe it will enable a significant restructuring of their entire IT strategy.

That suggests a strong disconnect between perception and reality, although the apparent contradiction may actually make sense. Many CFOs may share the view of Eric Wukitsch, CFO of Vantage Apparel, who says, “I think the concept is great, but there are obstacles when it comes to security and overall acceptance.”

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Steve Ferguson, CFO of Prospect Education, an educational services firm, has signed on for a number of cloud services, and praises the model for the nimbleness it provides. Ferguson formerly worked at General Electric, which, not surprisingly, relied on massive enterprise implementations of sophisticated software. At GE, he says, “major [IT] decisions were made at the top and trickled down. Here I can make a decision with the CEO and roll out [a cloud service] in four to eight weeks at most.”

Wukitsch plans to migrate to cloud services to ease the financial strain of owning and upgrading computer hardware, but says there is no fixed time line.

CFOs' current approach to cloud computing and their view of its potential