The Challenges Facing CFOs.

Rapid technology change is disrupting traditional business models and the responsibility of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has had to expand to meet new demands. A CFO often has a unique cross-functional view of the business as finance is critical to HR, operations, IT and other core business functions. This allows a CFO to align digital strategy with other business goals, to determine the return on investment of transformation projects and to forecast the resulting business outcomes.

CIOs and CFOs haven’t always been best friends. Depending on perspective, a CIO’s stock response to a new tech project has been an enthusiastic “Yes” while a CFO will take a contrary position of “the answer’s no, what’s the question?”

But with digital transformation dominating many strategic discussions, business success depends on your ability to work together. Most CIOs and CFOs agree that making technology investments are less costly than refusing to innovate, but can’t always find common ground around which initiatives to prioritise.

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Is Digital Transformation on your Radar?

According to a 2021 “Global CFO Survey“, CFOs prefer IT projects that optimise existing investments (44%) and improve process and efficiency (39%). CIOs are more likely to pursue projects that fundamentally change how the business works in a digital world – although the bottom-line impact may take some time to emerge.

While digital transformation is listed as a high CFO objective, the actual return is difficult to measure with almost half of CFOs reporting that they cannot accurately evaluate the ROI on their technology spending.

Pressure on IT budgets is not new, but there are increasingly innovative ways to meet the demand for high performing systems by spending differently, rather than spending more. Organisations are improving cost-effectiveness by taking advantage of public cloud services, dynamic application resource management, IT automation, third-party managed services and more.

With public clouds offering a pay-as-you-use model, more enterprises are embracing these services to reduce costs, but this has to be qualified – well architected and properly managed cloud environments can save money. Cloud done badly is expensive. As companies increase cloud spend, many are also wasting more and more. Respondents to Flexera’s ‘State of the Cloud’ survey estimated that up to a third of cloud spend is wasted on unused resources.

With digital transformation high on today’s strategic agenda, a strong CFO-CIO partnership is more important than ever. Financial decision makers need to learn the language of technology and CIOs need to be able to communicate IT imperatives as business priorities.

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