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Top 3 actions of progressive CIOs, according to Workday and Deloitte report

By Catherine Knowles, Wed 22 Sep 21

Chief information officers (CIOs) are helping to lead finance transformation and shifting strategies to meet evolving business and technology demands, with 70% of CIOs accelerating finance transformation strategies by at least a year.

This is according to a new report released by Workday and Deloitte Global titled 'A More Effective CIO-CFO Partnership'.

Based on a survey of more than 600 executives worldwide, the survey explores how digital acceleration prompted by the pandemic has influenced the thinking of CIOs.

Findings reveal that individuals referred to as Progressive CIOs, which represent just 8% of the total sample, take a specific approach to enterprise finance transformation and behave differently than their peers with regard to mindset, collaboration and technology strategy.

According to the researchers, CIOs and IT leaders are facing increased pressures to adapt and accelerate their digital strategies without disrupting critical business operations.

As a result, Progressive CIOs have built strategic alliances across their organisations, with 90% of Progressive CIOs reporting that their IT departments are much more integrated into other areas of the business than they were 12 months ago.

Progressive CIOs support finance transformation in three key areas, according to the researchers.

Leveraging data to fuel decision-making: Progressive CIOs prioritise data aggregation and data management, and understand that building effective data use is critical, the report states. Nearly all Progressive CIOs (92%) say that aggregating enterprise finance data into a single source of truth is their top priority.

Collaborating with finance to drive transformation: When it comes to enterprise finance transformation, there can be serious financial implications when misalignment between IT and the finance function occurs, the researchers state. 83% of Progressive CIOs stated that they will miss growth targets unless the IT and finance functions work more closely.

Adopting an agile, incremental cloud approach to transformation: Progressive CIOs recognise that modernisation cannot be done at the expense of the business. Over half (54%) of Progressive CIOs (compared to 37% of the total sample) are more likely to incrementally deploy capabilities in an end-to-end cloud strategy to modernise their firms legacy enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), minimising disruption while executing advanced digital initiatives, the researchers state.

Workday CIO Sheri Rhodes says, “Our research shows that Progressive CIOs are focusing on IT-finance collaboration, agile execution, and developing the right data capabilities, equipping them to accelerate finance transformation and drive strategic business results.

"Modernising and automating finance operations has become a if not the key digital initiative for today's enterprises, underscoring the importance of the CIO and CFO relationship in order to meet business goals.”

Deloitte global workday financial management leader Matt Schwenderman says, “Today’s most successful IT leaders are working in close alignment with the finance function to drive toward common goals, processes, and priorities.

"While we’re seeing a continued prioritisation of digital technologies as a result of the pandemic, our research highlights that Progressive CIOs recognise that the digital disruption triggering finance transformation will focus leadership on business insights and data analytics.”

Commenting on the report from an A/NZ regional perspective, Workday managing director and vice president Australia and New Zealand Stephen Jack says, "In A/NZ, we have found that the pandemic has caused many businesses to re-think their systems and processes.

"We have seen an acceleration of financial transformations with CFOs and CIOs working closely together to modernise systems and adapt for the changing world.

"Almost two thirds of CFOs are currently moving their finance operations to the cloud and investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions. The collaboration between the CIO and the CFO is crucial in driving these transformations and ensuring business success."

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