CFOs rule the IT budget, survey finds

CIOs are increasingly losing control of major IT spending to their chief financial officers, according to a survey.

CIOs are increasingly losing control of major IT spending to their chief financial officers, according to a survey.

The survey, conducted by Gartner and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), shows that only 5% of CIOs have sole responsibility for authorising IT investments.

According to the study, the influence of the finance department in IT is growing, with CFOs authorising 26% of all IT investments.

The Gartner/FERF technology study, conducted between October 2010 and January 2011, included 344 respondents qualified in providing a perspective on technology deployment within the organisation. A total of 66% of the respondents were CFOs, 9% were business unit CFOs, and 95% could be considered senior financial executives.

The survey also showed that 42% of IT heads report directly to the CFO, while 33% report to the CEO.

The results mirror a recent Harvey Nash study, which found that the CFO plays a significant role in CIO reporting lines.

The survey showed that 72% of CFOs are making IT investments where they see a competitive advantage. Business intelligence (BI) is the top technology initiative from the perspective of the senior financial executive, while 46% ranked enterprise business applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and integrated financial management solutions, as investment priorities.

Only 47% of respondents view IT as strategic, while 28% believe IT fulfils what is asked of it.

"This high level of reporting to the CFO, as well as their influence in technology investments, demonstrates the need for companies to ensure that their CFO is educated on technology, and underscores just how critical it is that the CIO and CFO have a common understanding on how to leverage organisation technology," said John Van Decker, research vice-president at Gartner.

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