The CFO as a technology evangelist: study

Nurdianah Md Nur

Even though chief financial officers (CFOs) are seen as technology evangelists, there is a disconnect between CFOs' ambitions and reality.

This was the conclusion of a recent study by Accenture and Oracle, titled "Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO as a Technology Evangelist," that looked at the changing role of the CFO. Out of the 1,275 C-suite executives surveyed globally, over two-third of them believed that the CFO should be a strong evangelist for the transformational potential of technology. However, only 20 percent of the respondents claimed that their finance organisations have adopted new technologies such as mobile technology and social media.

The need for cloud and analytics

To act as a strategic business partner, forward-thinking finance teams need to use new technologies to stay closely linked to the vision, strategies and activities of their peers across the enterprise.

Survey respondents clearly see the potential for the cloud to deliver new insights through advanced analytics and business intelligence. Twenty-eight percent of them claimed that they were already using the cloud to support budgeting, planning and forecasting. Furthermore, over two-third of the respondents stated that they had either already adopted a cloud-based system in some part of their organisation for core financials (24 percent), or are planning a road map for doing so (45 percent).

According to the study, 23 percent of the non-finance respondents felt that the ability of finance to provide an up-to-date view of performance against budget "fell below expectations," and nearly twice as many finance respondents (42 percent) thought they could do far better. This correlates with the findings that nearly half of all the respondents saw an increase in the number of finance analysts hired over the past two years.

"CFOs today are creating modern finance organisations that are adopting the cloud and other disruptive technologies to realise the power that digital can wield and help propel the enterprise forward," said Scott Brennan, a managing director, Accenture Strategy in Finance & Enterprise Performance. "This study shows how modern finance leaders can help craft corporate strategies that drive profitable growth."