The Modern CFO: Adding business value through IT

The Modern CFO: Adding business value through IT
February 23, 2015

Part 3 of our ongoing series

CFOs are becoming more influential across organizations—and are changing the landscape of IT investments in the process. According to a recent study from Gartner, in collaboration with FEI, CFOs see the need for technology improvements in business intelligence, analytics, and performance management. They understand that they can’t achieve these leaps using the same systems they currently have in place. To effect measurable change, CFOs need to work closely with IT to find the right technologies that will move their organizations forward.

Without this collaboration, the full potential of an organization remains untapped. IT departments can stay too narrowly focused on tactics and solution sets, while CFOs may develop financial goals and global priorities that aren’t anchored in technical realities.

The IT connection
Finance leaders are responsible for sifting through a lot of data, and even the most careful eye can read something wrong. Having the right tools can be the difference between meaningless piles of numbers and actionable insights. As organizations scramble to adapt to the changes in the cloud, social media, and mobile technology, it’s more important than ever to have accessible, understandable information you can trust.

That’s why it’s so crucial for leaders from IT and finance come together. While one side sees the big picture, the other can share insights and perspectives necessary for developing a cohesive, successful strategy. By combining their strengths, they make their organizations more intelligent, focused, and efficient.

Solutions made mobile
Mobile applications are growing in popularity across every part of the enterprise. As cloud services and software make data more accessible, CFOs are allowed more freedom and insight than ever before. From boardrooms to business trips, mobile applications are changing the way business gets done.

Areas that are quickly gaining traction include:

  • Travel expense management
  • Self-service HR and finance
  • Management reporting
  • Board reporting

In addition to helping manage expense reports and invoices, mobile tools encourage efficiency and productivity. CFOs can work closely with IT to find solutions that are secure, smart, and functional. The best tools are easy to use on an individual basis and adopt across the organization.

As Gartner recommends, “Deploy mobile capabilities where they increase the participation in the financial management process, including workflow and collaborative development of financial budgets and plans.”

Smarter tools for productivity
Improving productivity is on the mind of every savvy CFO. A thriving workplace can save time, money, and widen profit margins—but it’s difficult to attain. There are thousands of different tools that promise to boost sales and keep employees busy, yet many of them can’t deliver. Every business defines productivity differently, and a solution that works in one company won’t necessarily work in another.

Here again, collaboration between finance and IT is key. When CFOs are clear about their objectives, IT can find technology solutions that help to meet them. From cloud communication services that enable dialogue amongst distributed employees, to automated reminders and alerts that keep users on track, the right tools can be customized to fit an organization’s unique needs.

The key is identifying what you want to achieve first and finding tools that fit—not the other way around. CFOs need to discover what productivity means to their company before signing on for new technologies that may or may not contribute to the bigger picture.

A brighter future
Finance and technology are more interdependent than ever. By making collaboration with IT a priority, the modern CFO can see big leaps in performance and business excellence. The right tools can help increase productivity, organize data, and build a foundation for future success.

Mike Sellberg

About the author

Mike Sellberg is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Workiva. He is the former EVP and CTO at iMed Studios and the former Divisional General Manager at Engineering Animation, Inc.