Why the CFO should talk to the CIO ... now: research suggests that in many organizations, communications between the two C-suite officers is suspect. But with so many key controls, risks and procedures at stake, a good rapport is essential
A leading information technology (IT) advisory firm recently asked companies a deceptively simple question: How well does your CFO communicate with your chief information officer (CIO)? Just 31 percent of the companies rated their communications "good," and 17 percent replied, "Don't know."
This writer's experience in both finance and technology indicates that these results--which clearly show more than half of companies either unsatisfied with, or unaware of, the state of their CFO/CIO communications--accurately reflect a serious problem in the corporate world today.
Most CFOs understand that information technology (IT) has become a critical component of their companies' operations, at both the strategic and the tactical levels. And they know that communication is essential to sound financial management, corporate compliance, governance and risk management--all of the CFO's core responsibilities.
Yet, too many CFOs fail to make the necessary connection between these two points: that effective communication about technology is essential to their success.
The reality is that everything your company does--and everything you do--depends on technology. Extraordinary amounts of highly sensitive information pass through corporate IT systems and applications, and virtually every financially relevant transaction has an essential IT element. Any IT failure--whether it's the loss of sensitive information from a compromised spreadsheet or the breakdown of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system--has serious bottom-line consequences.
Moreover, an IT failure that becomes public can change the way your company is viewed by your customers, your partners, regulatory agencies and the financial markets. That makes an acute understanding of technology central to the many roles you play as CFO:
* The strategist. Perhaps more than anyone in the company, you have the "big picture"--the broad strategic understanding of where everything, including technology, fits in the company's overall operations. By working closely with the CIO, you can help to deliver better-quality IT decision-making and greater accountability, to ensure that your company's huge IT investment is used effectively. You can identity...
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