CFOs see IT as a growth enabler

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 29, 2013


A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) needs to wear many hats in this fast-paced economy. A study conducted by Oracle and Accenture found that CFOs are becoming increasingly aware that technology is a growth enabler and cooperation with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is vital for the company’s growth.

In the global research co-conducted by Oracle and Accenture in conjuction with Longitude Research, to examine the changing role of the CFO, 930 CFOs from organizations around the world in major geographic regions, 84 per cent said cooperation with their CIOs is imperative to the company’s financial growth. CFOs also placed increased importance on understanding and leveraging disruptive technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobile and social media as growth enablers. About 79 percent of respondents viewed access to information as a key driver of organizational agility, while 57 percent of respondents viewed investments in Big Data and analytics as a key source of competitive advantage.

However, CFOs see a need to shift away from IT maintenance and integration issues. According to the study, cost of maintenance, the cost of integration and the lack of integration between systems were the main concerns. CFOs need to shift their focus toward more technology-led innovation and growth projects to help them realize their strategic, operational and professional objectives, said the study.

The importance of robust analytics capabilities that deliver the insights to underpin performance management, inform senior management decisions and foster innovation to stimulate growth cannot be understated.
-Scott Brennan, MD, Accenture Finance & Enterprise Performance.

The study also revealed that 71 percent of CFOs said their overall level of strategic influence has increased with 65 percent of respondents citing an increase in responsibility over setting and determining strategy, and 47 percent indicate that their role in business transformation efforts increased.

“As CFOs see their zone of influence and responsibility expand, they can also be under increasing pressure to fuel their corporate growth engines,” said Donniel Schulman, MD, Finance & Enterprise Performance, Accenture. “As the CFO agenda broadens, finance officers are leveraging back office processes, controls and analytics to provide insight and priorities for transformation. This can allow them to successfully step up and fulfil their role as agents of change.”

However, there are some hindrances because of which CFOs are not able to reach their true potential. About 34 percent of those surveyed said they play a leading role in strategy formulation and an even smaller percentage—24 percent said they play a leading role in strategy execution. The biggest barriers were challenging economic environment said 37 percent of respondents, shortage of time 35 percent and the lack of integration between the finance function  respectively. Some CFOs worry that further cost cutting could endanger growth. The top priorities for CFOs during the past three years have been profitability, cost management, cash flow and working capital.