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August 2013

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Analyst Report: The CFO as a Catalyst for Change

In a recently released report, Longitude Research sheds light on the evolving role of chief financial officers (CFOs) and offers detailed recommendations for CFOs who want to lead business transformation across their organizations.

The report, “The CFO as Catalyst for Change," was commissioned by Oracle and Accenture and is based on a survey of 930 global finance executives, as well as in-depth interviews.

Rising Influence, and How Best to Wield It
"Tasked with steering their businesses through the worst economic times since the Great Depression, CFOs used their expertise in cost management and operational efficiency to ensure the survival of their organizations," the report's authors write.

In the wake of their success, they have gained new influence in their organizations, with more than 70 percent of respondents saying that their overall level of strategic influence has increased over the past three years.

But new challenges lie ahead.

"Rapid technological change, the rise of emerging markets, more-empowered consumers and employees, and more-active government intervention have all combined to disrupt traditional business models worldwide," the report's authors conclude.

IT Infrastructures: Challenges and Recommendations
Technology infrastructure is an area that requires redoubled efforts by CFOs, according to the report. When asked which technology issues cause CFOs the greatest concern, 30 percent of respondents pointed to the cost of maintenance, 29 percent cited the cost of integration, and 28 percent worried about the lack of integration between systems.

Dealing with these legacy problems consumes a disproportionate amount of time and prevents organizations from exploiting innovative technologies that drive growth, according to the report. However, these challenges also represent an opportunity for CFOs to shape IT in ways that supports broader business goals.

The findings from the study underscore the increased importance that CFOs place on understanding and leveraging disruptive technologies, such as big data, cloud computing, and mobile and social media as growth enablers. Seventy-nine percent of respondents viewed access to information as a key driver of organizational agility, while 57 percent viewed investments in big data and analytics as a key source of competitive advantage.

In particular, the report provides these three key recommendations for technology change management.

  • Shift the focus from maintenance of IT systems to technology innovation
  • Develop a better understanding of how technology can support both the cost and growth agendas
  • Collaborate with other functional areas, including marketing and human resources, to ensure that technology investments enable the right business outcomes

Download the full report today.

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