CFOs could be technology evangelists, if they took the plunge

Study shows that senior execs believe the CFO should be leading business transformation but only a small minority are actually doing it.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

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.

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