Chief financial officers and finance directors now consider information technology to be a value center rather than a cost center, reports Boston-based CFO Research Services.

In a survey to determine how the role of the chief financial officer or other top financial executives is changing in regard to IT, and how IT is impacting their businesses, CFO found that personnel are looking at the total value of ownership rather than the total cost of ownership when making IT investments. They also realize that IT investments can help create new products, generate additional revenue and improve customer service, the firm found.

As a result, chief financial officers say they are determined to invest shareholder capital in IT projects that promise a strategic financial return over the long term. Of the 288 respondents to the survey from the United States and Europe, 64 percent say they are conducting ROI analysis, 63 percent are researching the projected payback period for IT investments and 57 percent consider IT infrastructure to be a significant factor in merger and acquisition activities.

The study, commissioned by Getronics, an Amsterdam-based provider of IT applications and services, also revealed that chief financial officers are playing an active role in IT project decisions, including final spending, governance or resource decisions. In addition, 20 percent of financial officers say they spend more than a quarter of their time on IT management.

While 95 percent of respondents cite IT as a requirement for business process improvement, 58 percent indicated that it is an important driver of profit growth. Eighty percent, meanwhile, see IT as a way to improve operating processes and customer services.

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