News & Views

Is the CFO IT’s new CIO?

by John Lane - Jan 9, 2017

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In an ever-changing business world, it’s only natural for roles and positions to evolve as well. This is what many have considered to be happening to the role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO), as they are an increasingly relevant figure in various technological aspects of an organisation.

Previously, the CFO was almost exclusively involved in crunching numbers and signing off on budgetary decisions based on reports from other members of the C-Suite and various departmental heads. However, business finance has taken a turn for the technological, with practically every financial process having a more convenient and more flexible digital or cloud-based option – from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms to business intelligence and compliance tools. This also means that the majority of a business’s assets have gone from being tangible to intangible, shifting the responsibilities of the CFO considerably.

In this blog post, we’ll tackle the question of whether the CFO has evolved into a new kind CIO for technological decision-making.

Technology has increased the complexity of the CFO position.

Technology is in many ways a double-edged sword. While it can streamline, simplify and make processes easier, it can just as easily increase the complexity of a given role or person in an organisation. The latter is what often falls onto the CFO, who has to keep track of the costs and efficacy of any new tools implemented anywhere in the business.

There is an inherent risk in the adoption of any new technology, or software based on a new technology. And with risk management being an integral part of the CFO’s responsibilities, they always need to understand how rapidly changing available technologies can benefit or hinder business processes and wider business objectives. This directly translates into the CFO having to understand systems and processes at all levels of the business.

The CFO has become a strategic decision maker.

This all contributes to the CFO ultimately evolving from a number cruncher into a strategic decision maker responsible for the planning and execution of technology solutions.

In the words of Concur ANZ managing director Matt Goss, “CFOs should make it a priority to know every aspect of the business so they can be a useful partner in solving business challenges. They should stay well-informed regarding emerging technology, and be ready to adopt solutions that align with business goals. They can only do this if they are free from manual, time-intensive accounting tasks."

This means that CFOs should not only understand how best to invest in technology to further business goals, but also know how to use technology themselves to gain insight into business processes and the company’s financial data.

CFOs need to unite with their CIOs to drive IT strategy.

In the context of this greater CFO role, collaboration with the CIO – and CEO – is more important than ever. In addition to having more vested in technology decisions, the CFO is in the perfect position to tap into highly valuable real-time financial data. This can supplement the decision-making process and provide deep insight into the company’s bigger picture, positioning and growth potential.

The CFO has evolved into a prime mover of business growth and investment, and should know how to harness the power of technology and cloud for business to achieve business objectives. If you’d like to know how your IT infrastructure measures up, take our free IT health check today.

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TAGS: it strategy