CFOs Playing Bigger Role In IT Buying

by CXOtoday Staff    May 29, 2012

According to a recent Gartner research, the CFO’s role in technology decision making has increased in the past one year. The Gartner study conducted in association with Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) revealed that 44 percent of the CFOs stated that their role in IT investment has increased in 2011 as against the previous year. Forty seven percent CFOs said that their role in IT decision making remained the same and only 9 percent said their influence in IT decision making has reduced from previous year.

The study showed that even though CIOs are the leading technology investment decision makers in an organisation, CFOs are also becoming an important in supporting the enterprise IT investment and requirement. According to John Van Decker, VP-Research at Gartner, “The CFO and CIO are well-positioned to work together in enterprise IT investments to increase business value. However, this is often not achieved because of poor perceptions of IT or a failure to invest in the CFO-CIO relationship.” He believes that at present in many organisations, the CFO and CIO are working together to invest in IT and provide information that supports the entire business processes.

The study showed the various ways in which a CFO can get involved in the IT investment decisions. While 50 percent of the respondents said that they are part of a group responsible for IT decision making, 16 percent said that their role is to provide advice in areas of IT investment. Only 1 percent said they were the sole decision makers in their organisation. It is from the findings of the report that Gartner considers engaging the CFOs in the IT investment process and believes that CFOs should explain to CIOs the IT requirements needed by the finance function.

The study found out that as CFOs are powerful influencers and strict enforcers of policies and decisions, they also control IT funding to an extent and therefore it is important for the CFO and the CIO to form a strong partnership that can generate greater business value.

The study also noted that business intelligence (BI), analytics and performance management are key areas in which CFOs would like to invest in, as they are clearly recognizing the need for improved technology support to facilitate collaboration and knowledge management. In addition, Gartner analysts identified four major technology trends - social, mobile, cloud and information - that are on the CFO’s radar and will drive technology adoption in 2012 and the months to come.

Bill Sinnett, Director of Research at FERF pointed out that CFOs should look for technology investment that can lead to improved business processes. Currently, their priorities are largely focused on analytics and business applications. Decker added that CIOs must communicate to the CFOs how more effective business platforms can be leveraged for better delivery of business applications.