One in two CFOs don't see IT as a competitive differentiator: IDC

Cloud is the way to go in driving competitive advantage, says IDC's Emile Ditton at the CIO Summit in Sydney

Half of CFOs view their organisation’s IT function as a cost centre and don’t see technology as a competitive differentiator in business, according to IDC's latest research.

Speaking at the CIO Summit today (23 July) in Sydney, IDC's research manager of vertical markets, Emile Ditton, claimed a large gap remains when it comes to CIOs educating the CFO about the value IT brings to business, and how technology can help drive growth in organisations.

IDC also found that if CFOs had to list what expenses they would cut if their companies were “really in trouble”, IT would be towards the top of the list.

“For me this raises alarm bells: After administration and operations, then marketing, IT is the third on the list in terms of cutting expenses,” she said. Ditton pointed out many CIOs currently report into the CFO, and that CFOs own the business case for technology and are the dominant voice for IT on the board.

“There is a real opportunity for CIOs to engage with their CFOs to demonstrate how IT is instrumental to the way the business operates, instrumental to cost efficiencies, and instrumental to the way growth can be driven across the organisation,” she added.

IDC’s research found the CFO’s primary focus is on increasing efficiencies and reducing cost. Ditton claimed cloud-based services are the optimum delivery mechanism in achieving that, and will also ensure the CIO remains central in the long-term competitiveness of the business.

“What has come out of our CFO office at a global level is that over the next five years, organisations expect to move from a zero capital model through the use of public cloud,” Ditton said.

“Now, I'm not expecting this to necessarily be the case in Australia, but I think what it does say is the cost saving associated with cloud computing, particularly public cloud, is attractive to CFOs.”

“Also, what the cloud does for CFOs in being a services model is enable them to understand the profitability of different lines of business through the utlilisation of those services much more accurately.”

Across the board, top business concerns for c-level executives in 2014 are finding new customers, expanding into new markets and retaining their customer base. In addition, IDC found 57 per cent of ICT decisions will involve line of business executives.