With over 143 million active customers and $125 billion in total payment volume, PayPal is one of the largest financial clouds in the world. With this level of success, PayPal is a company that intimately understands the power of cloud computing to transform your business and a market. I briefly sat down with PayPal’s chief technical officer, James Barrese, to discuss what one should consider in order to successfully embark on a cloud initiative in their organization.

Cloud should be thought of as a both a business strategy and a technology strategy, says Barrese. Every company has scare resources and there are always more priorities than people to complete the work. In this context, Barrese advises that you must be aligned to a top business priority when approaching a cloud initiative otherwise you risk not having the appropriate support.

Brian Clendenin: What would you advise for people starting to assess cloud computing?

James Barrese: “You need to look at the way your company operates, the processes that you have, and change your way of working. Also, to take full advantage of the cloud, you have to change the culture.”

Clendenin: How does one go about changing the culture?

Barrese: “It’s super important that you have top level support. If it’s just tech talking, you’re not going to be successful. What I did was have my president up there talking and had business leaders talking with different groups. I purposely stepped back so that it wasn’t seen as a tech initiative. But, I had a lot of pre-work to make sure those business partners were comfortable with cloud as well. It then really looks to the broader organization that this is a business shift – not something that one group is doing to the rest of us.”

Clendenin: What advice would you give to those business leaders not 100 per cent confident about cloud computing?

Barrese: “What brought you and your company success in the past is not going to be what will make you successful in the future. The world is changing really quickly and there are all kinds of disruptors out there… and, if you’re not looking to reinvent what you’re doing you will get disrupted.”

Often with new initiatives that have the potential to be transformational one needs to seek out a progressive business leader and look holistically at the organization. This also means spending time with business units to understand both their challenges and opportunities. It takes works to create meaningful change in an organization – and it’s no different with cloud computing.


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