CFOs surge to superhero status

In today's economic climate the CFO is king, emerging as a critical driver of enterprise change particularly in the technology stakes.

IT managers believe they are the first to be overlooked in favour of the CFO when it comes to business-wide technology decisions and vendors readily agree - court the CFO to get sign-off.

According to a new study by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young the CFO is an agent of change ultimately charged with the accountability of all aspects of the organisation and only superheroes need apply.

However, IT managers who spoke to Computerworld found it tough to put CFOs in the superhero category, with one adding "they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing",According to Ernst & Young partner Bryan Zekulich companies are in the midst of a backlash as a result of overspending in the late 1990s and IT executives are being forced to walk a tightrope as they address the challenges of continuing industry convergence and technological transformation without additional financing.

The study which included in-depth interviews with 60 of the world's top CFOs, including some from Australian-based companies and covered communications, technology and media sectors, found companies are now paying the price for a go-go era of overspending.

This was particularly true in IT where executives lost sight of essential fiscal and business realities underestimating the cost of delivering new services and the time it would take customers to adapt to new technologies.

Despite this, Zekulich cautioned about falling back on cost-cutting measures that risk future growth and profitability.

"Telecommunications companies, for example, will need to place their bets on either owning the customer or the infrastructure. Resources are too scarce to do both," he said.

"IT will need to finally come to grips with the principles of value-pricing and customer-centric business planning in order to improve ROI and incremental revenue opportunities on existing investments. For some companies, the change will require fundamental changes in their business model."

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