One of the primary drivers of new application investments has been chief financial officers (CFOs). They are anxious to take advantage of advanced analytics to gain more granular insight into the overall performance of the business.
Investment in systems integration
A new survey of 114 CFOs conducted by Intacct, a provider of financial management software delivered as a cloud service, notes that 71 percent of the CFOs survey said that systems integration would be their top area of focus for technology investments over the next 18 months.
Much of that spending on systems integration stems from the fact that 80 percent of the CFOs surveyed said business reporting and analytics are their most important initiatives to support the business. Regardless of whether those new applications reside on-premise or in the cloud the data used to inform those applications invariably resides in some other system. In order to make the investment in advanced analytics and business reporting tools pay off, CFOs have to find ways to drive data into those applications.
Building a relationship with CFOs
For that reason IT service providers need to resolve to get closer to CFOs in 2016. CFOs will frequently make a decision concerning a reporting or analytics tool without much external consultation. At this juncture IT service providers can pretty much assume that CFOs are at the very least evaluating these tools. What many of them have not fully considered is the time and effort required to populate these tools with data.
In many instances, it can take an internal IT organization months to figure out how to move data from an internal ERP system to an advanced analytics application. IT service providers should be touting their ability to integrate those applications in a way that substantially reduces the mean time to value a CFO can expect from investing in those applications in the first place. In fact, given the increased awareness of the need to make fact-based business decisions, when it comes to implementing these applications the patience level of most CFOs is relatively thin.
The benefits and opportunities for IT service providers
The good news is that most internal IT organizations are keen to make sure the CFO from an IT perspective is happy. In most organizations, that internal IT organization winds up reporting to the CFO. Even when the IT department does report up elsewhere inside that organization, the relationship with CFOs that need to sign off on every major IT spending project is seen as pivotal.
Even when there are IT projects that are more critical to the business, any application that is likely to be used by the CFO is going to receive added attention from the IT organization. As a result, the resistance that many internal IT organizations might have when it comes to relying on outside expertise is reduced when a project directly impacts the way the CFO sees the business and, by extension, the value of the investments being made in IT.
Staying close to the people that provide the financing for IT projects is never a bad idea. After all, if an IT service provider can make the CFO happy, the chances are good that IT service provider will always be in the running for any and all IT projects that come down in the pike. In fact, it may very well be the IT service provider that winds up generating the idea for that project as the relationship with the CFO inside that organization over time hopefully grows both closer and warmer.