It’s becoming more and more imperative for businesses of all sizes to migrate to the cloud—particularly small businesses. Once reserved for enterprise-level customers, business cloud technologies have come down significantly in recent years. Its paved the way for new opportunities for growing businesses seeking to take their operations digital.
But migration to a business cloud isn’t a simple 1:1 transfer of data. It requires extreme forethought to everything from building an application stack to installing cybersecurity best practices. Above all, it requires decisive leadership familiar with business cloud migration. If they don’t have one already, SMBs need to weigh the merits of bringing on an interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) to shepherd the digital adoption.
Laying the foundation of migration
Cloud migration is rarely a linear process. Different stages of operations will go digital at different rates, prompting minor disruptions to different business segments. It takes tune-in leadership to identify where and when these disruptions are likely to occur, and to prevent them wherever possible. Attentive CIO leadership will finesse the migration to a business cloud and minimize disruptions to the business.
Hiring an interim CIO with cloud experience serves as an investment in certainty. These individuals know what a working cloud looks like and understand the nuances of how to establish one. They’ll spearhead the migration plan in a way that connects where the business’ digital infrastructure is today, to where it needs to be in the cloud. This leads to everything from better delegation of tasks to improved budgeting and timeline estimation for when and how the migration will occur.
Building the tech stack
The essence of a functioning business cloud is its tech stack—from administration and network monitoring software, to the individual programs used across business units. It goes beyond finding a good project management platform. Instead, the tech stack needs to unite the business and its operations on a digital playing field.
CIOs need to be thorough and fearless in their pursuit of new technologies. The cloud is a big undertaking and needs the right integrations, interfaces and platforms to ensure it remains accessible and reliable. Leaders should field exploratory demos and trials with new software before proposing cloud-based solutions, and have clear costing and ROI models for each recommendation.
Even direct ports come with snags—such as the conversion from legacy QuickBooks to QuickBooks Online or the transition from Microsoft Office to Microsoft 365. These transitions feature familiar interfaces for employees, but demand a well-architected series of integrations to ensure they work as-intended for the business. A tuned-in CIO is instrumental in mitigating any confusion that may follow in the shift to cloud interfacing.
Establishing cybersecurity fundamentals
With a migration to the cloud comes a world of new cybersecurity considerations. The most important role of an interim CIO is to install the cybersecurity solutions that accompany the cloud and to promote a culture of security-first among employees and business leaders.
Businesses need to ensure that all pieces of software within the cloud stack are secure in and of themselves. That means tiered usership, secure passwords and encryption for any data traveling outside the network. From there, it’s vital to secure all integrations and connections to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. CIOs also need to ensure cybersecurity best practices for all off-site and remote log-in activity.
Securing the software only works if there are specific policies to ensure compliance among employees. Even if they’re familiar with the cloud and potential threats, every employee needs an education on personal accountability. CIOs should write policies for things like password changes, phishing avoidance and user best practices. Teaching employees to be good digital stewards is imperative for the success of the cloud.
Digital change demands experienced leadership
Small businesses can’t afford not to invest in the cloud. More important, they absolutely can’t afford a botched cloud migration that leaves operations split between traditional and digital means. While the hiring of an interim CIO may come at a cost, the benefits this individual brings to a small business cloud migration are invaluable.
The beauty of a cloud migration is twofold. First, it’s a one-time move that’s looking more and more inevitable for growing businesses. Doing it right and establishing a robust cloud instantly gives SMBs the competitive benefits inherent to the cloud. Second, the cloud is scalable. As the business reaps the benefits of its cloud migration, it’ll encounter few barriers to growth. It’s almost certain that, pending a seamless migration, an interim CIO will become a permanent one as the business leans more and more heavily on tech to grow.