Consulting firms show that finance departments understand the need for improved IT, as well as the skill sets to make the most of the tools.
No one is suggesting CFOs should enter the new year thinking, “What kind of software should we buy?” but it shouldn’t be a question they should put off for another 12 months, either.
As finance teams recognize the increasing importance of technology to their everyday work, it may make sense to quantify some of the potential — or even expected — benefits before anyone gets their wallet out. For that, we can thank Armanino, a consulting firm based in California which publishes an annual CFO Evolution Survey.
While the latest edition did not focus exclusively on IT issues, it offered some data that could be helpful as other CFOs and their staff mull their spending in 2017:
46%: Percentage of who said the right IT would simplify software management.
45%: Those who believe technology could reduce operating costs.
32%: Those looking for service-level improvements from IT.
30%: Finance executives who see technology as a way to empower employees.
“Between the time savings of automation and the strategic advantage of real-time analytics, we advise companies to consider investing in systems integration,” the firm said. “We have found that one of the biggest barriers to system integration is current system architecture challenges, but the benefits of integration can often save headaches down the road.”
This, of course, includes force-fitting new user interfaces onto advanced CPM systems that don’t connect with the way people actually work.
CFOs might also want to think about the talent side of technology costs. As Deloitte noted in the feedback from attendees of its 20th annual Vision Summit this past November, the right skills around technology are scarce:
52% of respondents say information technologists, including data scientists and analysts and cybersecurity specialists, are in short supply. Innovators, including engineers, designers, and R&D leaders, and project/program leaders like project managers, decision facilitators and drivers of initiatives, came in next at 30 percent each, followed by executives at 20 percent and operations experts at 18 percent.
Investing in the right people always makes sense. Investing in the right tools to empower those people always makes sense. How exactly that will play out across finance departments will vary widely from one organization to the next, but there is no question it will happen. Let’s hope it happens early in this new year.
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