A survey of nearly 300 CFOs and finance pros, conducted by CFO Research Services and sponsored by tech services firm Getronics, found that their attitudes toward IT spending are changing for the better. Whereas CFOs have often looked at IT spending as a weighty cost to the company, more and more are viewing IT now as a "value center" capable of driving corporate revenues and profits. They also see information technology as a competitive tool and a means to enhance shareholder value.
According to the survey results, CFOs are looking at the total value of ownership, rather than the total cost of ownership, when considering IT investments.
"This research shows a fundamental shift in the way that CFOs view IT investment as a result of the changing role of IT within their businesses," according to Kevin Roche, president of North America Getronics Infrastructure Services. "The data shows that IT investments are being considered in a new light - how IT can make the organization more efficient and profitable. By creating 'value' IT can generate revenue and improve customer service for a significant impact on the bottom line."
The survey shows that CFOs are determined to invest in IT projects that promise a strategic and a financial return over the long term. Sixty-four percent are conducting ROI anaylsis and 63 percent are researching the projected payback period for IT investments.
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More than half (57%) report they consider IT infrastructure to be a "significant factor" in merger and acquisition activities.
A focus on customers is high in the minds of CFOs when they look at IT investments: 80 percent of respondents view improved customer service as "crucial" or "very important" for IT investment over the next 12 to 18 months. Only 69 percent say they're investing in IT to reduce operating costs.
Mary Driscoll, president of CFO Research Services, said the trend has been building among CFOs, but "this is the first time we've been able to indicate that CFOs are the key decision-makers in technology strategy and demonstrate that they are moving away from the traditional project accounting role."
In-depth findings of the survey, which polled 288 CFOs or other finance executives at U.S. and European corporations, include:
David Aponovich is senior editor of CIN. Email him at email@example.com