Are you thinking like a business pro? In the cloud era, you should be.

It's not controversial that business success today depends more than ever on IT performance. Business processes and IT operations are highly interdependent and tightly linked. Alignment between the two is no longer an option—it’s a requirement to stay competitive. Your business customers won’t succeed in today’s dynamic economy without IT behind them, but business customers care about outcomes, not technologies. The more you can think like they do, the better your relationship will be, the better your outcomes will be, and frankly, the better your future job prospects will be.

Forrester calls the evolution of IT from a provider of technologies to a broker of business services the “IT to BT (business technology) transformation.” Key to this shift is rethinking IT’s role in the enterprise and, in particular, rethinking current IT processes and the tools used to support them. Many IT organizations have improved workload, application release, run-book, data transfer, and virtual machine management processes, to name a few, through automation—yet still fail to deliver the agility and responsiveness their business customers demand.

Why? Too often there's simply not enough business focus in IT organizations. Get out of the data center regularly and meet with business buyers and financial managers in your company. How do they measure your success? You might be surprised at the answers. How do they manage costs for their customers? What visibility do they need from you? I recently spoke with ITWorld about the IT to BT transformation and 9 ways you can personally profit from it. Do you understand what it costs you to deliver not only each element of infrastructure but each application service you support today? If not, how will you stay competitive in the cloud era? There are some good tips in this article.

I also recently participated in a terrific webinar on cloud economics, hosted by CFO.com. In this round-table style discussion, I discussed strategies for teaching finance executives what they need to know about cloud computing. Joining me was Mark Linden of Intacct, Timothy Chou of Stanford, and Rob Livingstone of the University of Technology Sydney. I hope you'll check it out. And if you're trying to understand whether cloud makes financial sense for you today, start by reading our Understand The True Cost Of Cloud Services report, part of Forrester's Cloud Computing Playbook.

Whether your company has an explicit cloud strategy in place or not, it's a sure bet someone is using cloud today. As we at Forrester have said for a while now (and will keep saying through 2013), business leaders and developers are the ones driving cloud adoption in the enterprise. And they are often doing it without I&O's permission or support. But they need you. Learn their language and understand their motivations. You bring to the table a wealth of deployment, security, process, and availability expertise that will prove invaluable when it comes time to make these clouds enteprise-class. Learn to think like a business pro to profit from—and take control of—cloud computing in your company.