Jun 05 2013

CFOs Want CIOs to Help Them Brush Up on Their Tech Skills

The opportunity for IT to engage and educate with more of the company is here.

IT professionals have been in an ongoing discussion about the future role of the CIO. Can CIOs integrate more closely with other lines of business? Can CIOs be seen as more than just a device deployer?

In the past, it’s been said that CFOs are only concerned with the bottom line when it comes to business investment in technology, but a recent Accenture survey of 930 CFOs found that “52 percent of CFOs expect that their influence over IT will increase,” reports an article on the survey on CFO.com. Additionally, when asked what area they want to improve the most, 28 percent of CFOs cited their knowledge of technology.

The good news is that CFOs know they need a trusted partner to lead them through the vast fields of IT, and they’re relying on the CIO to be the Gandalf to their Frodo. According to results from the Accenture survey, 84 percent of CFOs said they have increased cooperation with their CIOs in the past three years.

“Technology is becoming more important to CFOs, yet we’re seeing that the second-biggest skill gap the CFO has is technology,” said Scott Brennan, managing director for Accenture’s enterprise performance management practice and co-author of the report, in the article. “That means there’s an opportunity for CFOs to become more tech-literate and for CIOs to help CFOs become more tech-literate.”

If more CIOs can count on the CFO as an ally, it helps make their work easier and more effective.

On his blog, the CIO Dashboard, Chris Curran, a PwC principal and chief technologist for the U.S. firm's advisory practice, wrote about how CIOs need to build strong relationships with those in the C-suite. Companies that have CIOs with strong links to the rest of the C-suite can see results like this:

  • A shared understanding between business and IT leaders about the corporate strategy and an explicit process to link IT to that strategy.
  • Aggressive investment in IT capital spending to support strategic corporate initiatives, such as market share growth, product and service development, and M&A.
  • Greater investment in emerging technologies, including social, mobile, analytics and big data, and cloud computing, to grow the business.
  • More aggressive leveraging of mobile and social technologies for employees and customers.
  • A shared belief that Big Data creates a competitive advantage.
  • More explicit approaches to organize, manage and measure innovation.
  • A recognition of the differences in IT needs, for example among different generations of employees.
  • Everything that is necessary on a mobile platform.
  • An understanding of the IT challenges that can impact the business, for example a lack of key skills, the ability to turn data into insight and the pace of digital change.

Dear CIO, the door to collaboration and integration with the rest of the C-suite is wide open. Will you walk through it?