There is no sugar-coating the fact that some roles will need to change, especially for employees directly tasked with supporting and maintaining the on-premise software and infrastructure being decommissioned.
Those employees are often valuable and efficient, and with some re-training they can jump into new roles in the IT department that they may find more rewarding than their previous tasks. But IT leaders need to offer direction and resources to make that happen.
"IT management has to provide leadership, guidance and assistance in helping employees make that transition. At the end of the day, not everyone makes it, but it's a trend over the next several years and those who embrace it will be more successful," Patel said.
Sanmina-SCI actively worked with impacted IT staffers to help them, and overall the transition went pretty smoothly, although there isn't much a company can do about employees who resist change.
"Sometimes you have people who want to do a very specific thing and they may not be a fit going forward," Patel said. "They may decide to pursue other opportunities elsewhere, or you may have to make that decision for them. In our experience, that's an exception. For the most part, we've been able to redirect our resources to more value-added activities."
Momentum managed to get all of its impacted IT employees on board with the switch. "It was a discussion early on that your roles are going to change, your skills are going to change and we're going to work with you to get those skills up to speed in a cloud offering," Pierce said.
"We let them know that, hey, we're going into new technologies that are at the forefront of innovation and you're going to be right there with us, so they're very excited. We took the time to explain the vision and rallying the troops around it," he said.
One thing that CIOs have going for them in this transition is that seasoned IT professionals are generally no strangers to this type of situation. "There have always been changes in IT that have made skills less relevant," Wettemann said. "It's not the first time we've seen IT skills appear threatened."
The move to enterprise cloud software opens up new opportunities for IT professionals, especially in the area of doing custom application development work to complement and customize cloud offerings, she said.
"We're seeing IT look to reduce the tactical day-to-day support of applications and spend more time developing and delivering applications to the business," she said.
That will call for IT staffers to communicate more with business units to find out what they can do to help improve the productivity of their peers in departments like marketing, human resources and finance, Wettemann said. "Eat lunch with someone other than fellow IT folks," she said.