One of the great benefits that cloud computing offers to CIOs and to enterprises are opportunities to dramatically simplify IT architectures. By doing so, this can enable business units and the enterprise as a whole to become more agile, to drive higher levels of productivity, and to enable greater collaboration between employees and work teams.

While CEOs and other members of the C-Suite are certainly more conversant about cloud computing and IT in general, it’s still incumbent upon the CIO to clearly communicate the business and operational benefits that public and private clouds can provide to the organization in terms that business leaders can easily understand.

Forbes recently ran a great story about my friend and FedEx CIO Rob Carter and one of the steps he took early on in his tenure there to demonstrate the complexity of the company’s IT infrastructure to CEO Fred Smith and the leadership team and how it needed to be radically simplified. To do this, Rob created a systems map of all the applications and interfaces the company had in place.

It was such a complex picture that Smith ended up dubbing the illustration Hurricane Rob since it looked like a giant, spinning storm.

The illustration went a long way towards helping Rob to get his point across and illustrate to FedEx’s senior management that the then-current approach to layering additional complexity on top of the existing IT architecture simply wasn’t sustainable.

There are other communications techniques that CIOs can leverage to convey the cost, quality, and flexibility benefits that the cloud can provide to the enterprise.

For instance, along the same lines of Rob Carter’s mapping exercise, CIOs can communicate and even illustrate for senior management ways in which the use of cloud platforms can enable business units to obtain greater value than from premise-based applications and systems. A cloud-based CRM system could allow key stakeholders in disparate geographies to access customer data more effectively. Improvements in data access and collaboration could enable business unit leaders and marketing teams in different parts of the world to deliver more consistent messaging to customers and prospects and to work more productively on shared projects.

Tying cloud initiatives to business outcomes and strategies is a must-have as well as an effective way for CIOs to impart the business benefits of using cloud platforms to the C-Suite. One approach that CIOs can consider using is a show-and-tell format through the use of a PowerPoint deck or a slide show that can demonstrate how legacy applications and premise-based systems are hampering the effectiveness of the business and how the deployment of cloud platforms have increased agility, collaboration, and productivity.