Written by Will Aitkenhead
Posted on 25/02/2015

Business intelligence plugging CIO and CFO relationships

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Traditionally Chief Intelligence Officers (CIOs) and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have enjoyed somewhat frosty relationships. In the past, CIOs offered little more than tech knowledge and this could lead to IT departments that were costing the business money through ill-discipline. But now CIOs sit on the top executive table, and when they are singing from the same hymn sheet as the CFO it can prove a winning strategy.

Technology is central

As the desire for IT continues to rise, the impact this has on business intelligence continues to grow. Identifying, developing and implementing new business opportunities using raw data is the overall goal of business intelligence but to get to this stage several things need to happen first.

Technology is not only critical in responding to business problems but it is also important for future growth and innovation. For these things to happen CFOs and CIOs need to work together and this will require co-operation from both parties.

CIO job remit has changed

Nowadays it is not enough for CIOs to be solely technology experts; they need to possess a strong base of business knowledge as well as financial analysis skills and relationship management ability. As the importance of technology on giving businesses an edge continues to increase, companies will expect the CIO to deliver a return-on-investment and bring genuine value to the business.

From the other side of the table, when looking for a new CIO, the CFO will need to assess whether a potential candidate can improve communication and be able to have a direct impact on revenue streams into the business. Leveraging business intelligence so that they can quickly and accurately highlight trends that will deliver new opportunities is the overall end game for the CIO.

More collaboration needed

According to research in 2012 from IT business management company, vmware, 63 percent of CFOs said they planned to upgrade business intelligence, analytics and performance management. However, a survey carried out by Sungard Availability Services in August 2014 highlighted that just 32 percent of CFOs work closely with their CIO. This is a remarkably low figure given that 96 percent of those CFOs also thought the IT department was responsible for driving business growth.

Clearly the relationship between the two figures needs to improve if an efficient partnership is to be created. In the last 20 years progress has been made but there is more that can be done. Goals need to be established as well as budgets and the best CFOs will be those who recognise the need for this relationship.

That is the only way they will be able to see the true potential of investing in the IT department and this in turn will lead to better business intelligence and a more successful business as a result. With cloud-based computing, scalable machine learning, big data and mobile-first enterprise now the norm, businesses need to be agile and a close relationship has never been more important.

Transparency critical

CIOs need to be in complete control over IT costs in order to build such a relationship and one way to do this is by ensuring they provide a business context to the IT work they do. Doing this will prove to the CFO that they are in control of the situation, which can help to develop a more symbiotic relationship built on trust and mutual respect for each other, giving each other confidence that they can work effectively for the benefit of their business.

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