Finance and technology - a confident partnership

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The finance department is arguably the most mature in its approach to technology. Not only does it's work rely intrinsically on the use of computers, representatives of the finance department are typically involved in major IT investments to make sure the business case is sound.

This helps to explain why, as our survey of 50 finance leaders revealed, they are confident they will have more control over technology in future, while acknowledging the importance of data quality and information security.

This report, sponsored by Oracle, explores how finance is taking control of technology, and features in-depth interviews with:

-Robert Cornella, finance director, The Coca-Cola Company, Germany
-Wolfgang Schäfer, chief financial officer, Continental AG
-Vincent Barakat, EMEA finance director, GE Healthcare Life Sciences

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT >> http://www.cio.co.uk/whitepapers/enterprise-apps/finance-and-technology-a-confident-partnership/

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Finance and technology - a confident partnership

  1. 1. Finance and technology: a confident partnership 4 © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2014 Driven by technology 1 The finance department is not normally viewed as a hotbed of technological innovation. “Finance has traditionally been a nuts-and- bolts type of department, where you report the numbers,” explains Robert Cornella, finance director at Coca-Cola Germany. “There hasn’t been a great deal of showmanship.” It goes without saying, though, that it is heavily reliant on technology. Core tasks such as calculating rolling estimates, recording monthly actuals, producing quarterly financials, consolidating profit-centre profit and loss (P&L) statements and producing balance sheets would all be impossible for small businesses, let alone giant corporations, without software. It is unsurprising, then, that 60% of finance leaders surveyed for this report believe that their department’s business processes are more reliant on technology than those of most other business units. Almost one-quarter (24%) of IT leaders surveyed agree that finance is the most technology-dependent department, although slightly more (26%) pick marketing as the most reliant. In fact, technology has played a crucial supporting role in the rise of the finance department as a key adviser to the business. “It’s only in the last 10-15 years that finance people have become proficient at presenting data and really becoming true business partners,” says Mr Cornella. “Finance leaders are increasingly viewed as a business partner to the CEO and other teams, not only because of their financial expertise, but also their ability to help guide decisions in the business.” Technology therefore permeates the finance function’s work, and its power to fulfil its strategic objectives is linked to its ability to influence technology selection and deployment decisions. Luckily, finance is perhaps the department most intimately involved in technology decision- making. In any well-run company, finance will examine the costs and potential benefits of any technology project or investment. Indeed, in many organisations the chief information officer reports to the chief financial officer. According to Wolfgang Schäfer, the chief financial officer of the German vehicle parts manufacturer Continental, the contribution that finance makes to IT decision-making goes beyond simply How important is technology to your business unit’s processes? (% of respondents) Our business processes are more reliant on technology than those of most other departments in the organisationOur business processes are no more or less reliant on technology than those of most other departments Our business processes are less reliant on technology than those of most other departments in the organisation Chart 1 Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit. 60%36% 4%
  2. 2. Finance and technology: a confident partnership 5 © The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2014 counting the numbers— it imbues the technology design and selection process with a vital business focus. “Technology decisions today have to consider a broader perspective—operational as well as financial aspects,” he says. “That’s why finance is already involved today in system definition and tool decisions. Given the amount of money spent on IT solutions and their influence on how we are running our business, finance involvement is vital.” How confident are you in your business unit’s ability to manage technology? (% of respondents) Very confident Somewhat confident Chart 2 Neutral Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit. 48% 38% 14% How do you expect the way in which technology decisions that affect your business unit are made will change in the next two to three years? (% of respondents) My business unit will have significantly more influence My business unit will have slightly more influence There will be no change The IT department will have slightly more influence The IT department will have significantly more influence Chart 3 Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit. 36% 32% 20% 6% 6% Given their high reliance on technology and their regular involvement in technology decisions, it stands to reason that finance leaders are especially confident of their department’s ability to manage technology. In this survey, 86% described themselves as “very” or “somewhat” confident, a higher proportion than leaders of any other department.

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