CFOs grow their influence over IT

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CFOs grow their influence over IT

Not entirely for nefarious purposes.

Almost half of chief financial officers say their influence over IT has increased in the past two years, according to new research by analyst firm Gartner.

The survey of 255 CFOs and finance executives found only nine percent who said their influence over IT had decreased in the period.

By contrast, 22 percent of CFOs saw their influence "significantly" increase and an equal number "slightly increase". For the remaining 47 percent, their influence over IT remained the same.

Although CFOs appeared to be wrestling more control over technology spend from the CIO, Gartner identified some good news for IT organisations.

Half of CFOs whose influence over IT increased said it was because they viewed themselves as an "enabler of corporate strategy and see IT as key to that strategy".

"That's really positive," Gartner vice president John Van Decker said. "That's 45 percent [of CFOs that are] really trying to link enterprise strategy with IT initiatives".

There were a selection of other reasons why IT influence may have increased.

About 11 percent of CFOs surveyed said their influence grew because "IT has been mismanaged and it needs to align more with corporate goals/objectives".

Another seven percent said they needed to "concentrate" if they were to lower the costs of the IT portfolio.

Some of that influence over IT translated into CFOs having the power to authorise projects, although this did not necessarily mean that CFOs had the final say on whether an IT project was to go ahead.

About one-third of CFOs surveyed said a "steering committee of IT and business area executives" jointly authorised IT investments. 

In another 24 percent of cases, the CFO and CIO were jointly responsible for authorising investments.

An additional 24 percent of CFO respondents said authorisation of projects fell to them.

Most CFOs either led a group responsible for making the decision, or were a member of that group. In the rare cases they were not part of the decision-making group, they were called on to provide advice.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, CFOs were most enthusiastic about IT projects that involved some form of business analytics.

The Gartner survey also supports findings from Deloitte that CFOs are still spending on IT projects.

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