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Shadow IT seduces CFOs

shadow-IT-300x200The lure of cloud computing for CMOs is well understood and has seen more of the IT budget head to that department – now it’s the CFO’s turn…

Delays and “chaos” in the planning cycle is driving chief financial officers to seek alternatives to the trusty spreadsheet, according to Adaptive Insights CEO Tom Bogan.

Spurred by the advent of consumer technology and cloud computing, shadow IT has been an issue for CIOs as it is easily purchased with the corporate credit card, delivering point solutions outside the governance of the IT department.

Initially, marketing departments were driving shadow IT, but it is now percolating to other parts of the enterprise, with CFOs looking for technologies to support their day-to-day needs.

Gartner recently published its 2015 survey exploring CFO technology needs, though it has yet to reveal the findings publicly.

According to Bogan CFOs want access to tools that would allow them to perform what if and scenario planning, which was challenging with spreadsheets alone. He said that solutions designed to provide a single source of the truth compiled from a range of different applications allow CFOs to design better business plans.

This approach also allowed business units to be more involved in contributing to strategic plans. Bogan said that in contrast, spreadsheets lead to a tactical rather than strategic approach to budgeting and business planning because of the limited vision the spreadsheet could provide.

He said that business-focused dashboards which delivered data and insights from a range of different applications made it easier for teams to be more involved and strategic in planning.

He also claimed that this approach could cut budget planning phases substantially, from between three and six months to 30 days, though he acknowledged only around one in eight enterprises is presently able to achieve that.

Once again though there’s the risk that the CIO will be squeezed out where CFOs can buy these solutions directly from the cloud.

“Unlike enterprise software where there is a very heady CIO involvement, in the cloud the users are more involved in decisions. We are selling to the finance team – most likely the CFO who is the sponsor and key influencer,” said Bogan.

Surveys suggest that as much as $15 out of every $100 spent in tech in the enterprise goes to shadow IT, and that this could rise as much as 20 percent this year.

According to Adaptive; “The role of the CFO has been in an evolutionary phase in the last six months. CFOs now understand the positive impact that digital technology can have on enterprise margins and growth. No longer number crunchers, CFOs are challenging their role and taking on a more pivotal position in organisations to strategically influence the business direction and achieve greater growth through data driven decision making.”

While the CFO is the target sale, there are still crumbs for the CIO. Bogan said that while the CFO was driving the approach the IT department still needed to be involved at an information governance level – and to ensure data consistency across various business applications.

Local ANZ users of the Adaptive Insights cloud based corporate performance management system include Coca Cola Amatil, Wellington Airport and Cochlear.

This article was originally published on iStart technology in business