You Have The CFO's Ear

Nearly half of the respondents in a recent survey of CFOs said that IT's vital to growth.
CFOs are big believers in real-time analysis and IT's role in customer-service improvement--but they're not sold on collaboration software. Those are a few of the findings from a survey of 288 finance execs in North America and Europe. Nearly half of the respondents told CFO Research Services and Getronics that IT is vital to growth. A slightly smaller group--46%--viewed IT as enabling business-process improvement. Few had yet to reach the age of IT enlightenment: Less than 5% said information technology is purely tactical.

CFOs' perception of IT is no small matter, particularly when they're giving the green light for projects and purchasing. In InformationWeek Research's Priorities study for the first quarter of 2002, nearly 20% of the 300 business-technology execs surveyed said the CFO has ultimate control over IT decisions. Finance execs also feel the pressure to boost their tech acumen. A survey last April by staffing firm Robert Half International Inc. found that 44% of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed said that after financial expertise, IT savvy is the most valued skill. CFOs find that a significant portion of their work schedule--16%--is devoted to IT, according to CFO Research/Getronics.

So what do CFOs want to accomplish with tech dollars? Customer-service improvement and operating-process improvement topped the list--both earned a mention from about 80% of respondents to the CFO Research/Getronics survey. Close behind was reduction of operating costs, identified by 70% of CFOs.

CFOs place a premium on real-time analysis for decision making--about two-thirds of respondents to the CFO Research/Getronics survey said it's very important or crucial. But not many finance execs put as much emphasis on collaboration software; it was identified as critical by less than a quarter of respondents. They certainly didn't collaborate with IT execs on that answer--more than three-fourths of respondents to InformationWeek's Priorities study said increased collaboration with business partners is one of IT's top business priorities.