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May 2014

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Research Report: CFOs Becoming Technology Evangelists

Traditionally, chief financial officers (CFOs) have focused on tallying the financial numbers after the fact, with a narrow focus on cost containment. But technology is now supporting their expanding mission to modernize finance to execute on their new mandate as strategic partners to the business, providing data-driven insights and financial rigor to operational decision-making

That is the conclusion of Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO as Technology Evangelist, a new research report commissioned by Oracle and Accenture in collaboration with Longitude Research that draws on interviews with 1,275 senior executives, including 975 finance executives from midsize and larger organizations around the globe.

"CFOs at midsize companies often take a lead outside traditional finance in both IT and human capital management. They also tend to have wider influence over strategic direction and become the technology evangelist across the enterprise," explains Steve Cox, vice president, Oracle Product Marketing. "And as modern technologies such as the cloud have leveled the playing field in technology investment, making it more affordable for executives at growing companies to exploit next-generation applications, these executives have grasped this opportunity to drive transformative change."

Embracing the Cloud for Core Financials, Planning, and Budgeting
According to the research report, advances in technology, particularly the expansion of more-powerful analytics, are the key drivers of the CFO's evolving mission.

"Technology has raised the bar in terms of what finance can contribute to the rest of the business," Otto Kroboth Palmer, CFO at Grupo Fármacos, is quoted as saying in the report.1Grupo Fármacos is Mexico's leading pharmaceuticals distributor.

The advent of cloud computing has accelerated CFOs' embrace of technology. More than two-thirds of executives surveyed have adopted or are planning to adopt a cloud-based system for core financials. Not coincidentally, modern cloud solutions tend to provide the kinds of benefits that especially appeal to CFOs, including greater scalability, more-predictable costs, improved business process automation, and stronger controls—including data controls.

In particular, the study cites budgeting, planning, and forecasting as a key priority, with 28 percent of respondents already using the cloud to support these activities, and another 34 percent planning to move them into the cloud within the next year.

"These findings suggest that finance functions are keen to focus on more-strategic activities in the short term," write the research report's authors.

Specifically, respondents are looking to the cloud to deliver

  • New insights through advanced analytics and business intelligence
  • Better service through new tools and functionality to help finance be a more proactive business partner
  • Greater operational efficiency through the automation and digitization of finance processes

Read the Accenture report, Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO as Technology Evangelist.

Listen to the webcast, "The CFO as Technology Evangelist: How Effectively Are You Using Technology to Drive Strategy and Set the Growth Agenda?", featuring Oracle and Accenture experts with Red Robin Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Stuart Brown.

1“Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO As Technology Evangelist”, Accenture and Oracle, March 2014.

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