CFOs recognize importance of investing in BI analytics technology

Infotech Lead America: Enterprises in every industry are now making Business Intelligence (BI) analytics their top priority because of the valuable insights it provides. Firms that effectively leverage BI analytics derive valuable insights that can lead to improved performance of staff, lower operational costs and better quality of customer service.

According to a joint study by Gartner and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) – the research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI), over 78 percent of the top business processes that CFOs identify as requiring improved technology support are largely addressed by BI, analytics and performance management technologies.

The survey reveals that the emphasis on business intelligence/analytics and business applications as the top areas for investment and focus continue from previous years. Category wise, the top business process area that needs technology investment is to facilitate analysis and decision making at 59 percent, up from 57 percent in 2012, followed by the ongoing monitoring of business performance at 50 percent and collaboration and knowledge management at 45 percent, down from 52 percent in 2012.

Several organizations are still struggling to leverage BI and analytics effectively. Many IT organizations that made initial investments fail to suitably address fundamental issues such as data quality and consistency. CFOs will have to work closely with BI specialists in IT to tackle this problem.

The focus of CFOs on BI and business applications for IT investments  have reduced as compared to last year, seemingly due to the increasing importance of nexus technologies that increased considerably this year.

The survey also reveals a disconnect between the CFO and CIOs of organizations regarding the importance of business applications. In cases where CFOs and CIOs are not on the same page, the CFO may sponsor his own initiatives without co-ordinating with the IT. In this manner BI seems to become less of a CIO responsibility and more of a CFO and line-of-business responsibility.

CFOs often display a strong interest in cloud and mobile technologies and would be interested in getting access to key business information using their mobile devices. John van Decker, Gartner research VP says CIOs should use this interest to demonstrate how wider investments in cloud and mobile technology could deliver benefits across the organization.

Corporate performance management (CPM) projects take the top spot on the CFO’s BI initiatives list. The top four priorities in this area are addressed by CPM suites, including performance scorecard; budgeting, planning and forecast; financial consolidation; and profitability management.

The study also shows that 39 percent of IT organizations currently report to the CFO, underlining the importance of ensuring that CFOs are educated in technology to be able to collaborate with CIOs and effectively leverage enterprise technology.

IT organizations must also responsibly communicate how more-effective business platforms can be leveraged to deliver better architectures for business applications that are important for the CFO.

The survey showed that the CFOs’ understanding of the Nexus of Forces impacts CFO investment priorities. Enterprises need to adapt as the nexus of social, mobile, cloud and information and the data that results from their adoption expand exponentially. Social fared poorly low in terms of technology initiatives, but mobile, cloud (including software as a service [SaaS]) and information emerged as priorities.

Read Tableau Software’s list of top 10 trends for Business Intelligence in 2013 HERE.

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