CFOs could be technology evangelists, if they took the plunge

CFOs could be technology evangelists, if they took the plunge

Summary: Study shows that senior execs believe the CFO should be leading business transformation but only a small minority are actually doing it.


There is a weight of expectation on the chief financial officer (CFO) of most organisations, and that they should be in the front line of driving changes in the structure of IT. The problem is that only about a fifth are actually doing it.

That's one of the conclusion of a new report into the changing role of the CFO compiled by Oracle and Accenture. The report found that some two thirds (65 percent) of C-suite  executives in large organisations believe that CFOs should be "strong evangelists for the transformation potential of technology".

Further, nearly three quarters (73 percent) of those execs believe that new technologies such as the cloud, social media, and mobile technology "will change how finance is structured and run".

But, while all are agreed that finance should lead the way to technological change, only 20 percent of C-suite executives believe that their financial organisations have adopted the right leading-edge technology advances. In contrast the report found sales organisations have been quicker to adopt new technology with 43 percent of the C-suite believing they their sales departments have already done so.

Half of all respondents to the survey said that their organisation had, over the past two years, increased the number of financial analysts hired. This, the survey said, reflected the growing need for finance talent with a deeper and broader range of business and analytical skills.  

But this was being driven by the fact that the ability of the finance department to deliver an up-to-date view of the company's performance-against-budget fell "below expectations".

The potentially better news is that the organisations surveyed believe that they can "clearly see the potential for the cloud to deliver new insights through advanced analytics and business intelligence". More than a quarter of respondents (28 percent) are already using the cloud to support budgeting, planning and forecasting, and another 33 percent plan to move into the cloud within the next year.

In addition, more than two-thirds of the executives who were surveyed say their organisation had already adopted a cloud-based system "in some part of their organisation" for core financial information (24 percent), or are planning a road map for doing so (45 percent).  

However, that does mean that slightly more than half of all the organisations surveyed haven't yet come up with a fixed plan for cloud computing. This is comparable with a recent Forrester survey which showed 63 percent of C-suite execs believe that new technology, such as cloud computing, would have a big impact on their business.

The report "Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO as Technology Evangelist" is available here.

Further Reading:

Topics: CXO, Cloud, Oracle, Outsourcing, Cloud Priorities


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • Because what we really need . . .

    "CFOs could be technology evangelists, if they took the plunge"

    Because what we really need is treating technology as if it were a religion.

    Eh, no.
  • What we need are smarter CFO's.... then they would understand tech.

    Instead of trying to burn everything at the stake or torture it to death with 1000's of irrational budget cuts.

    95% of CFO's would not recognize a keyboard if you hit them with it.
    Reality Bites
  • Nothing to see here folks, move on.

    Sounds like the new report is intended to drive ERP sales.

    This is a completly backward look. The CFO used to be in charge of IT (technology) back when the goal was to reduce costs via automation. That's no longer the case. The CMO/CIO should be driving for innovation and customer satisfaction.
  • I disagree

    The job of the CFO (aka chief bean counter) is to manage the money and to advise his fellow managers as to how to more effectively use the resources they have. While those jobs aren't terribly glamorous, and those performing them aren't usually good CEO material (except for accounting firms, banks, and stock brokerages), they are extremely important ones if the company is to prosper.

    Let the money man be the money man. If the CTO is doing his job right, he'll naturally take the lead on selling the tech (but it might be helpful if the CFO and the CTO ate lunch together on a regular basis.
    John L. Ries