Five Must-Have Skills for IT Professionals in the Cloud-First Era

As more companies are making the transition to a cloud-first model to achieve greater business agility and flexibility, IT leaders are finding it difficult to identify the right talent to support this transition.

In the cloud-first era, the IT organization has multiple roles – business advisor, service broker, and innovator. Since IT is positioned at the foundation of every business process, the most suitable IT professionals will be those who can effectively advise, collaborate, partner, and communicate value to the business.

In our “2016 Cloud Computing Tipping Point Survey,” we found that nearly 9 out of 10 companies that have completed making the shift to a cloud-first model lack the required resources needed to make this transition.

Cloud First Era Skills

When discussing this predicament with my CIO peers and looking at my own organization at ServiceNow, it has become clear to me that the recruitment focus needs to be centered on finding people who have the ability to address the business and process needs of organizational leaders.

Below are five “must-have” skills that I believe will be needed in the cloud-first era: 

  1. Process Architects. One of the key benefits of shifting applications and functional tasks to the cloud is that it creates opportunities to streamline and transform cumbersome legacy processes. This requires process navigators who are able to work closely with functional and line-of-business teams to understand how work is conducted on a day-to-day basis and to re-imagine processes that are faster, simpler, and a great user experience. Process designers also need to collaborate with developers to help create consumer-like application usability to make the employee experience easier to navigate. Finding the right process pilots can make a huge difference – according to “The Business Impact of the Cloud,” a market research study conducted by Vanson Bourne, companies that adopted cloud services experienced an 18.8% average increase in process efficiency. 
  2. Business Value Analysts. While 63% of enterprises have made progress on the benefit or value they expect to achieve from cloud initiatives, there’s still room for improvement, according to the RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report . This is one of the key reasons why companies need business value analysts (BVAs) – people who can evaluate and quantify business outcomes associated with process change. BVAs are also needed to do a deep dive on data relative to customer and business trends and be able to communicate to the C-suite the opportunities and impact these developments are expected to have on the business in order for executives to act ahead of competitors. 
  3. Technology Portfolio Managers. Companies that succeed with cloud deployments start by identifying and tackling their most pressing business problems that cloud models can be used to address. According to PwC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, “Winners in the innovation game…will be those that harness technology and innovation to deliver products and services that are cost-effective, convenient, functional, and sustainable.” Technology Portfolio Managers can help organizations to optimize their business operations through their know-how in integrating cloud-based applications and systems with legacy apps to achieve business value.
  1. Business Relationship Managers. Just as Process Architects work with business teams to leverage the cloud to simplify their daily work tasks, Business Relationship Managers can partner with functional business leaders to harness cloud apps and systems to address their top challenges. In addition, Business Relationship Managers can serve as liaisons between the business and IT to ensure that the IT organization understands and meets business requirements. Critical to this role are soft skills – the ability to listen, collaborate, and problem-solve with business executives to deliver optimal outcomes and continuous improvement.
  2. Cloud Contract Negotiators. Service-level agreements and the terminology that’s used in each contract (e.g. the definition of “uptime”) often varies from one cloud provider to the next. And since cloud agreements are often complex, cloud contracts often omit certain considerations that can lead to repercussions when problems do arise. For instance, according to a June 2016 Forrester Consulting report, 48% of respondents said they would have included more security stipulations while other decision-makers would have included additional provisions for performance (36%) and availability (31%). Companies that are growing their cloud service portfolios needs Cloud Contract Negotiators who can help CIOs and business executives to understand the trade-offs with cloud agreements and ensure that SLAs are clearly defined.


As companies increase their use of cloud, IT leaders need to hire people who can address critical business requirements. Finding the right talent who can creatively solve the needs of fuctional business leaders will be a top priority in the cloud-first era.  

To compete and win, look to these five skills as you develop your talent approach in concert with your cloud technology strategy.  

For more details on our cloud-first survey findings, see the “2016 Cloud Tipping Point Survey.”

Chris Bedi
Chris Bedi joined ServiceNow in September 2015 and currently serves as ServiceNow’s Chief Information Officer. Prior to joining ServiceNow, Bedi served as CIO of JDSU from August 2011 to March 2015 where he was responsible for IT, Facilities, and Indirect Procurement. Prior to JDSU, Bedi held various positions at VeriSign from April 2002 until August 2011, including CIO, VP Corporate Development, and VP HR Operations. Bedi began his career at KPMG Consulting from June 1996 to April 2002. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.

One Response to “Five Must-Have Skills for IT Professionals in the Cloud-First Era

  • Tristan Washington
    2 years ago

    Great message and thanks for the insight you have provided individuals like myself.

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.