Let’s take a quick snapshot of the business world as it stands right now: uncertainties (and hope) about a new president coming in, financial markets don’t seem to be responding to stimulus programs, gas is down to $2.00 / gallon but for how long, and Paris Hilton hasn’t been hear from for most of the summer. Hmm, is this the best of times or the worst of times? What should a CIO be worrying about right now? Doing more outsourcing? Picking the best time to upgrade the company to Vista? Vitalizing more servers? NO! None of those are things that a CIO should be worrying about right now. The CIO should have a laser-like focus on the very same things that the CFO is worried about. Oh, oh. So what is the CFO worried about right now?
If you want to know what CFOs are staying up nights worrying about, then you’ve got to ask them. Thankfully for us this job has been taken care of for us by the Duke University / CFO magazine Global Business Outlook Survey. CFOs are very afraid that credit issues are going to be rippling through the supply chains that their firms use. This means that the boys and girls in finance are worried that suppliers won’t be able to supply and customers won’t be able to pay. Oh, and the CFOs’ companies may not be able to get access to the capital funds that they need also. So what are the top 10 concerns of today’s CFOs? Here they are:
CFO Top External Concerns:
- Consumer Demand
- Credit markets / interest rates
- Housing-market fallout
- Cost of fuel
- Cost of nonfuel commodities
- Upcoming change in the U.S. administration
- Financial regulation
- Devaluation of the U.S. dollar
- Environmental regulation
- International political stability
This of course brings up the key question: what are CIOs doing to decrease their CFO’s fears of these issues? Case in point would be the cost of fuel. Although prices have slid for now, we all know that they can go back up just as easily. The CIO should be coming up with technology based solutions to implement “smart buildings” so that office energy usage can be monitored and minimized. Tracking of fleet vehicles and optimization of delivery and pickup schedules can also result in massive savings – just look to UPS for an example of this.
As they like to say on television, but wait – there’s more! Those were just the top external concerns of CFOs. What are their top INTERNAL concerns?
CFO Top Internal, Company-Specific Concerns
- Cost and availability of nonfinance labor
- Ability to forecast results
- Cost of health care
- Supply-chain risk
- Data security
- Cost and availability of labor in accounting / finance
Once again, the CIO should be jumping on the ability to forecast results. This problem calls out for a technology based solution for creating, tracking, and updating forecasts. Additionally, reducing the turn-over in the IT department staff can go a long way towards minimizing hiring and training costs for the firm as a whole.
In the end, IT exists to serve the needs of the company. Yes, planning a company-wide upgrade to Vista is important; however, this is not what the CFO is worried about. In order for the CIO to have a seat at the table when the strategic direction of the company is being planned, then the CFOs top concerns need to be the CIOs top concerns.
At your company is the CIO talking with the CFO to find out what problems he thinks need to be taken care of right now? How do you think your CFO views your CIO? What steps do you think that your CIO could take to improve the relationship between the IT and finance departments? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.