In a sobering report put together by IT research firm Gartner and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), a majority of the 344 CFOs interviewed for the study felt that internal IT organizations weren't being managed properly, lacked organizational and technical flexibility, and weren't delivering the technology innovations needed by their respective businesses.
The Gartner/FERF study – called “The CFO’s Impact on Technology Investment Decisions” (download PDF) -- also highlights some trends in the relationship the CFO has with the CIO and their IT departments, with a majority (51%) of CFOs being either solely or jointly responsible (with the CIO) for authorizing IT investments in 2011. This compares with only 45% of CFOs having that same responsibility in 2010. Many IT departments report up through the department of the CFO, so these figures shouldn't be that surprising.
What will raise the eyebrows of many senior IT leaders is the generally negative opinions that surveyed CFOs have of their CIO and their IT organizations in general. The study revealed that only 35% of CFOs viewed their IT departments as being "a strategic driver of business performance", and only 32% of respondents saw the CIO "as being a key partner in [business] strategy." Here are more details:
These findings may not surprise CIOs and senior IT managers, who are increasingly being asked to justify IT expenditures in light of the troubled economy and other pressures on organizations of all sizes. Placed against the backdrop of the larger IT discussion about cloud computing and its potential to reduce IT costs while increasing operational agility -- despite concerns about security, compliance, and data preservation in the cloud -- the results of this survey should also give IT pros a glimpse into what is on the minds of many CFOs when it comes to IT resources and tech spending these days.
The Gartner/FERF survey also listed some observations and recommendations for improving the relationship between the CFO and IT organizations, namely that "understanding and working with the business is key to IT success over technological excellence" and that "IT must focus on getting closer to the business in order to be viewed strategically."
So what do you think of the Gartner/FERF survey? Do you have some success stories/best practices of your own regarding how IT can effectively work with and help drive the larger business goals of an organization? Let me know what you think by commenting on this blog post or following me on Twitter.