CFOs understand that enterprises are being challenged to adapt as the use of mobile, social and cloud and the data that results from their adoption expand exponentially, according to a joint study by Gartner Inc. and Financial Executives Research Foundation, the research affiliate of Financial Executives International .

Mobile technology and the cloud, including software-as-a-service, are priorities among financial executives, according to the 2013 Gartner Financial Executives International CFO Technology Study.

"CFOs have a strong interest in cloud and mobile technologies,” John van Decker, Gartner research vice president, said in a statement. “SaaS (and cloud-based delivery) is starting to affect business applications. Many CFOs use mobile devices and would be interested in getting access to key business information using these tools. CIOs should use this interest to show how wider investments in cloud and mobile technology could deliver benefits across the organization."

Although the nexus of mobile, cloud and social will be a concern more in 2014 and beyond, the study says, IT organizations must communicate how more-effective business platforms can be leveraged to deliver better architectures for business applications that are "top of mind" for the CFO.

For example, the report says, it would be sensible to include the CFO in mobile device deployment to allow him or her to access finance information and analytics. 

"The CFO's influence over IT is consistent and, in many organizations, is growing,” Van Decker said. “We have seen in the study that a large percentage of CFOs own the IT function. This year's responses show that 39 percent of IT organizations currently report to the CFO."

This high level of reporting to the CFO shows the need for companies to ensure that CFOs are educated in technology, and underscores how critical it is that CIOs and CFOs have a common understanding of how to leverage technology.

The survey also found that business intelligence/analytics investment will address many technology gaps for CFOs. Fifteen of the top 19 business processes that CFOs have identified as requiring improved technology support are largely addressed by BI, analytics and performance management technologies.

The survey results showed that the top business process area that needs technology investment is to facilitate analysis and decision making (59 percent, up from 57 percent in 2012). That’s followed by the ongoing monitoring of business performance (50 percent), and collaboration and knowledge management (45 percent).

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