When It’s Time for CFOs to Put Their Own IT Needs First

October 13, 2016 Mitchell Buchanan  
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Financial leaders want to be good stewards of their firms’ resources, but that doesn’t mean they should skimp on technology.

Of course, CFOs are cost-conscious by nature, but do they really have to spend on IT as though they were cobbler’s children who have no shoes?

When experts discuss the occasional disconnect between financial leaders and their counterparts in the CIO’s office, they’re not usually referring to a fight for more and better technology specific to the finance department. Whereas those in marketing, sales or customer service who nag IT departments are getting to use the latest tools or apps similar to those they use in their personal lives, CFOs tend to be more cautious. That was the takeaway from a recent post on ZDNet that suggested it’s time for finance professionals need to look out for their own interests.

The finance function is central to digitalization within the organization, as it allocates resources for growth, but is often not the leader in applying digital technologies. Paradoxically, Finance often (rationally) allocates IT investments to the revenue-generating and customer-facing functions risking its own functions to be stuck in the digital wilderness,” the article said. “The mindset of Finance as a back-office support function requiring only the minimal IT investment to stay alive – is clearly a relic of the past.”

Is it? Part of the hesitation might be the risk of investing in technology for the finance department that doesn’t really deliver on its promises – you know, like all those high-end programs that promise to do away with the tools everyone actually uses like Excel. It would be difficult to position yourself as a strategic CFO if what you buy and deploy on premise turns out to be a dud.

The cloud changes all of this, of course, by offering a means to deliver IT as you need it. That helps explain the latest spending data released by Deloitte as part of its regular CFO survey.

“CFOs were also asked about their current use of select digital technologies. Nearly 80 percent of CFOs say their companies have implemented cloud solutions, with nearly 50 percent saying they use cloud in a few areas, and just over 30 percent saying they use it broadly. Cloud platforms are the only technology implemented by more than half of the companies according to the CFOs surveyed.”

Even if the lion’s share of those cloud investments is going to serve other departments, it’s possible CFOs will see enough promise in the technology that they’ll be more prepared to offer it to their own teams. Finally, the cobbler’s children will get their shoes – and walk more confidently into the future.

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