The survey shows that 71% of finance executive respondents think that shifting finance solutions to the cloud is fundamentally challenging; however, 66% believe the value realized from a cloud strategy exceeds the cost of meeting its challenges.
Similarly, more than three-quarters (76%) of the finance executives surveyed believe that implementing a strategy to leverage big data is fundamentally challenging, but 62% say the value realized from big-data strategies exceeds the cost of that challenge.
These two data points show that CFOs know that important trends and patterns exist in the siloed data that surrounds them. But many finance chiefs find themselves data-rich and information-poor, with relevant information residing in disparate systems. Getting that data organized and analyzed is daunting, even though for the organization the payoff can be enormous.
Some finance executives say that having to understand the financial impact of technology options – quickly weighing their short- and long-term benefits and costs – will be one of the biggest changes for CFOs over the next two years. One respondent notes that finance needs to be “heavily collaborative” with the information technology department over the near term.
Close ties with IT don’t just make sense when weighing technology investments; they will also be key to making data secure in an era of heightened corporate vulnerability to cyber-attacks. One surveyed executive notes that the transition of accounting and finance to digital form paper will require a new security and controls focus: “New internal controls will have to be established that are technology-based, and they will need to rely on system security more than physical security.” That’s because effective risk management for today’s CFO is tied to advanced technology tools. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of survey respondents say they think leading-edge technology can reduce the number of CFO pain points – and for senior finance executives, risk equals pain.
But as important as risk management is, the ultimate target for many finance chiefs is a metamorphosis for finance. One executive reports that it is important for the CFO to “improve the tools and thus the ability of the finance staff to do value-added analysis for our business partners (instead of) spending time on gathering data and reporting on results.” Another executive states that, in addition to supporting ROI calculations for potential innovation changes, finance should “be a better partner with other functions in developing a longer-term vision of how innovation could transform various business processes.” A third finance executive reports that it is important for the CFO to “improve the tools and thus the ability of the finance staff to do value added analysis”.
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