2013 Strategies: CFOs Wielding More IT Influence
All of the solution providers I speak with have good relationships with the CIOs inside their customer organizations. They may work more closely daily with IT administrators and network engineers but they always keep the CIO close for overall technology strategy decisions. And that is smart.
However, going into 2013 it is the CFO that solution providers need to start establishing relationships with if they really want to be entrenched in the IT decision-making process in the future. With companies evaluating every dollar spent and looking at hard ROI metrics, the CFO is beginning to wield more IT decision-making power. But more importantly, the CFO role has evolved into a major strategy and decision-making force inside most organizations.
I recently moderated an event that included Bill Sinnett, Senior Director, Research, Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF). He supplied data upon data showing the increasing influence CFOs are gaining not just in overall corporate strategy decisions but specifically IT purchasing.
FERF conducted a joint survey with Gartner, collecting 255 survey responses from CFOs online between October 2011 and February 2012, of which 48 percent said the CFO or the CFO and CIO together authorizes IT investments. This is a mounting increase when compared with previous years, according to Sinnett. “The role of the CFO is increasing when it comes to IT investments,” he said.
What are the main reasons that their influence over IT spending has grown? Forty-five percent said they see themselves as an enabler of corporate strategy and see IT as key to that strategy. Only 13 percent cited ensuring an ROI on technology deployments, according to the study. They are big decision-makers and solution providers need to get close to them.
Rick Neal, CFO of McCoy Corp., a fourth-generation, family-owned supplier of lumber, building supplies and farm and ranch equipment, also discussed how his role as a CFO has evolved and how he works with his organization’s CIO. Neal is responsible for accounting, treasury, finance, payroll, human resources, risk management, training, loss prevention and credit & collections. He also has lead many software project implementations to enhance processes and financial reporting.
“I work closely with the CIO on all technology decisions. There is not a technology decision made without consulting one another,” Neal said.
Solution providers always must be looking at ways to get closer to the decision-makers inside their customer base. It is clear that the CFO role has evolved and is majorly influencing IT decisions. It’s time for solution providers to reach out past the CIO and begin forging relationships with CFOs.
Knock em alive!