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Nov 19

How the CIO Can Sell the CFO a Collaboration Solution

Posted by Bill Gerneglia in Untagged 

Bill Gerneglia
Caution CFOs, your CIO may soon ask you to finance a business collaboration  technology solution.
Leveraging the best that technology has to offer is always a challenge. CIOs are constantly struggling with how best to articulate to the rest of the C-Suite and especially the CFO of the value proposition of an essential piece of enterprise technology.  Procuring and deploying the right business collaboration technology solution is no exception. As CIOs want the best technology available for their end users,  CFOs  will typically require some practical financial answers when it comes to acquiring “the latest and greatest” particularly with IT. 
Technology innovation occurs almost daily and product refresh rates are routinely compressed to shorter and shorter intervals.  No sooner has the latest, greatest solution been deployed than a newer, better solution emerges. As the CIO of your organization you are faced with the reality that your business operates in a world where 40% of many workforces are mobile at any given point in time. It is important that you discover and introduce innovative technologies to let employees come together in groups to collaborate to do work from remote locations. The ultimate goal of the CIO in deployment of a collaborative technology solution is to deliver some type of business benefit such as faster problem resolution, more innovative ideas and quicker time to market new products. 
Hosted collaborative technology solutions can offer the potential to upgrade the business and functional applications rapidly with an ROI period that is short and simple to calculate.  Infrastructure cloud based collaborative solutions help to minimize the risk in making these investments as they are scalable for future growth and offer a minimized footprint in a virtualized environment.
The CIO should argue for investment in cloud based collaboration services because these investments in IT are truly providing competitive differentiation.  This stems from the current global trend in cloud computing where the cloud is shifting IT toward a utility model.
 Some business units within an organization desire the self-service, self-reliance choice of selecting and procuring their own SaaS solution.  CIOs can provide outside cloud based collaborative services that can provide independent operating business units with a feeling of empowerment. They can schedule, configure, coordinate, and collaborate across remote locations using the online tools of their choice all while staying in a single integrated product family.

Are you ready to have the conversation with your CFO? 
When CIOs ask for financial resources to support say a business collaboration solution, CFOs will typically ask for additional cost justification or an extensive ROI analysis.  CIOs should expect this and be prepared. CIOs should be confident that their informed purchasing recommendation is based on demonstrations and experiences which they know to be the right action at the right time for their organization. The CIO simply needs to document the request and put it in a form the CFO can understand.

It is important for the CIO to understand why the CFO has made the request for ROI calculations. Technology spending typically represents the biggest single area of capital expenditures within most organizations. Couple that with the kind of clout that CFOs typically gain during tough economic times along with the increase in regulatory and compliance activities in recent years (i.e. Sarbanes-Oxley) and it stands to reason why many  CIOs and IT organizations now fall under the CFO’s watch.
CIOs can make the following arguments to the CFO to win their financial support for the deployment of collaborative technologies.
The reasons for adopting cloud based collaboration services are clear: Cloud Computing has the ability to change the way the technology industry itself is shaped as Cloud has changed the computer pricing model. An organization can potentially buy capacity as I needed it and pay for it as Operating Expense instead of Capital Expense. This has the effect of enabling innovation because you may rapidly select a technology solution and deploy it very quickly.

Inform the CFO that by deploying your suggested collaboration solution the entire organization will have anytime, anywhere access to real-time business collaboration services.  The single biggest advantage of running business collaborative solutions in the cloud is that employees can be anywhere and have full access to each key system element through nearly any Internet-enabled device. Your company does not need to build out a complicated VPN. The cloud based collaboration service lends itself to improving access and accuracy of data and in many cases end user accountability.

While many companies adopt cloud applications with the assumption that positive ROI is a given, their main drivers for making the jump to the cloud are to gain overall process efficiencies and to run their businesses better, faster and cheaper. A survey by the Sand Hill Group recently found that increased business agility and cost efficiency are the key drivers for cloud adoption.

While the decision to move to the cloud is about investment justification for the CFO, it is also about using this technology to improve performance around key areas of the business and to drive the desired behaviors from both the CIOs team and the organization at large. The collaboration tools you select need to enable your organizations’ vision and strategy in order to drive the correct process and behaviors. By using the cloud to target opportunities and motivate people, business collaboration investments are ultimately justified.

To make the case for the investment to the CFO you can point out that the rules of funding a business collaboration deployment are the same no matter the size your company. To properly evaluate the project's feasibility, you must be able to compare the expected cost of the project against the expected value to the organization. With most IT projects, the future value of an investment is easy to predict by considering savings, efficiency gains or the reuse of existing resources. Simple forecasting methodology can then be used to calculate a potential return on investment (ROI) to determine a course of action. It is a tried-and-true method, and one the CFO understands. 
By starting with a small group and building on early collaboration technology roll out successes you can focus the CFO on the overall advantages to all the end users in the organization.
Cross Posted from 
Sep 07

The Chinese Economy is On a Slowing Boat

Posted by jimfinnan97 in Untagged 

The news about the Chinese economy has been grim at best lately and conjures up the image of a slow boat. This has lead to what most economists and analysts agree is an appropriate response from the largest global banks as they are all cutting their growth forecasts for the world’s second-biggest economy.

The analysts downgrades will likely intensify investors’ concerns about fallout in the rest of Asia. Asia exports have been in a free fall from the euro-zone debt crisis and the weak U.S. recovery, while domestic growth also slows.

UBS on Friday lowered its forecasts for China’s GDP growth to 7.5% from 8% for this year, putting it among the most bearish of banks that have recently downgraded their 2012 China outlooks. For next year, UBS sliced its outlook to 7.8% from 8.3%.

That followed less than 24 hours after Goldman Sachs Thursday cut its forecast for this year’s growth to 7.6% from 7.9% and for 2013 to 8% from 8.5%.

China’s GDP grew 9.3% last year, so the expected slowdown doesn’t mean China’s economy is falling off a cliff, but it is still a significant slowdown.

The Chinese economy has a habit of beating expectations. For ten years from 2001 to 2010, its growth rate exceeded the IMF’s spring forecast, often by a big margin. But this year it looks like it will disappoint. In recent months, industrial output has slowed sharply; stocks of unsold goods are piling up; and Shanghai’s stock market is at a three-year low. For the first time this century, in 2012 China’s growth rate may dip below 8%. With the world ever more dependent on China’s economy this is a real problem and is what is part of the rationale behind the recent analyst downgrades.

The lower projections from the large banks for 2012 bring them closer to Beijing’s view, which typically underestimates growth.

Premier Wen Jiabao set this year’s official GDP growth target at 7.5% in a symbolic gesture to sharpen the country’s focus on the quality, rather than speed, of economic expansion. China had for the prior seven years set its growth target at 8%, though the economy outpaced that rate every year, even in 2009.

China’s central bank has cut interest rates twice this year and pumped liquidity into the banking system. The government has also been boosting spending on highways, subways and other infrastructure projects. The effort so far is a far cry from the massive stimulus program it unleashed in 2008.

Still, there are concerns that Chinese authorities might not offer enough stimulus fast enough to counter head winds generated from a policy clamp down on the property market that has also depressed activity.

Goldman Sachs said new spending plans may be delayed in the near term by Beijing’s once-a-decade leadership transition this year and lags in implementation.

Morgan Stanley figures risks in Asian markets have increased. Among the evidence, it notes leading indicators such as Chinese electricity usage, local cement prices, and freight rates, which suggest investment risks in Asia will remain elevated.

Cross Posted from 
Aug 16

CFOs expect to raise prices, but not employee pay

Posted by annearf in pricesJapaneconomyCFOCEO compensationcareer/management


The good: CFOs think the economy is on an upswing. The bad: They also believe the Japan disaster will impact the US. The ugly: More of them than before plan to raise prices. The uglier:  Even as CEO pay soars, most other employees can't expect the same for their compensation.

That's according to a biannual survey of CFOs conducted by Grant Thornton. It questioned 318 CFOs and senior comptrollers, 59 of whom were from the Northeast.

May 22

The CFOs Perspective on the ROI of IT

Posted by jimfinnan97 in Untagged 


CFOs today are focused on payback when making investments in IT. The current global economy is making it difficult for many companies to compete and win market share in their industry so investment in technology that leads to innovation and collaboration is more important than ever.

Apr 11

CFOs Define Roadblocks to Innovation

Posted by Bill Gerneglia in Untagged 

Bill Gerneglia
According to a recent article I discovered on, "The biggest roadblocks to organizational breakthroughs are a shortage of fresh thinking and too much red tape, according to executives interviewed for a recent Robert Half survey."
This shouldn't come as a surprise to most project leaders, over the years I've noticed that the path most organizations take to innovation is re-invention. According to the Robert Half survey, 35 percent of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed said a lack of new ideas is the greatest barrier to their company being more innovative with 24 percent citing too much bureaucracy as the problem. It was also interesting to note that 20 percent blamed being bogged down with daily tasks or putting out fires as the problem. Sound familiar? If so, it doesn't sound like you're alone.
I don't think there's any question that fostering an innovative project environment is important to ensure that projects are successful, and although the six tips identified in the survey will likely not be a surprise to this audience, here they are:
Engage the Entire Team: "Empowered employees tend to be more innovative because they have a bigger emotional stake in the firms success," suggests the report. I couldn't agree more. When the team is engaged (and that means everyone from sponsor to individual contributor) projects tend to not only be more successful, the project environment tends to foster an atmosphere of creative problem-solving and innovation.
Remove the Red Tape: According to Robert Half International, "Employees become disillusioned when they put their time and energy into devising ingenious ideas only to wait forever for them to be approved and implemented." I'll go one step further. Nobody likes to ask "Mother, may I?" for everything. I learned a long time ago that it doesn't have to be exactly how I would do it to be successful. Giving team members some leeway in how they approach problems and come up with solutions often yields the best solution.
Keep it Collaborative: "Create policies that support the open exchange of information and a team-first atmosphere," they suggest. I've witnessed organizations where competition and confrontation where the rule. I'm not convinced that's the best way to get the most out of people. When people can collaborate and work together, I'm convinced we get the best from them.
Build a Better Brainstorm: It's suggested that we, "Rein in the naysayers who relish in saying why novel proposals won't work. Support 'blue-sky thinking.'" I've been in some incredible brainstorm sessions over the course of my career. I've also spent hours wasting time in fruitless discussions where every new idea is killed before it even starts to breath. And, in fairness, I've sometimes been a naysayer myself. You've got to wade through a lot of ideas to find the truly great one.
Give 'Em a Break: "Burnout does not beget brilliance." I understand that sometimes (and the operative word is sometimes) people need to put in extra time and work. However if sometimes becomes all the time, there's a bigger problem manifesting itself than overtime. I once worked for a guy who told me that if I was working eight or nine hours a day, I should start thinking about working ten. And, if I was working 10 or 11 hours a day, I should start thinking about working 12. Of course, he didn't want to compensate me for any of that extra time. If I had been working only six or seven hours a day he would have likely thought I was stealing a few hours a week from him—yet, he didn't mind taking a few extra uncompensated hours each week from me. Needless to say, I don't work for that guy anymore. If you expect people to consistently put in extra time and effort, it's really only a short-term performance bump. Long term, you'll lose employees and productivity will suffer.
Seek Inspiration: "You'll have difficulty motivating staff to ignite creative sparks if you're feeling uninspired yourself," suggests the survey. The same five rules outlined above also apply to project leaders. It's just as important that you avoid burnout and are engaged as everyone else on the team. Wherever you go or whatever you do to feel inspired, make sure you spend regular time going there or doing that. Most project leaders have way too much to do and not anywhere near enough time to do it. Give yourself permission once in a while to step away from the desk and get the creative juices flowing yourself.

Mar 30

CFOs should partner with IT leaders in this post digital world

Posted by Bill Gerneglia in Untagged 

Bill Gerneglia

By Eric Openshaw and Richard Rorem
Chief financial officers face a strategic choice today that could affect their career and their company. Digital technologies are rapidly evolving, converging and becoming C-suite friendly. Will CFOs view them as IT costs to manage or tools requiring a steep learning curve that’s best attempted in close partnership with their chief information officer?
Two companies, FedEx and American Airlines, have benefitted because their CEOs famously learned that lesson. Fred Smith, FedEx chief executive, recognising that continuously improving logistics was essential, forged strategic partnerships with a series of IT leaders in his company, keeping digital innovation central to his business model.

Robert Crandall, his counterpart at American Airlines, worked closely with his IT guru, Max Hooper, supporting him in the creation of their revolutionary reservation system, Sabre. The fact that reservations-only digital forms continue to try to challenge Sabre’s competitive edge is an early lesson in the importance of understanding the speed of digital disruption to an enterprise.
“More IT organisations report to the CFO than to any other executive function or role,” noted Sara Peters, Enterprise Efficiency editor in chief, citing the 2011 Gartner FEI Technology Study. That’s unfortunate for many CIOs because, as Ms Peters reports, “Gartner found that CEOs generally have a higher opinion of the IT organisation than do CFOs, and top executives see IT as potentially having a bigger strategic impact on the business than do CFOs.”
Worse yet: according to the Gartner study, “only 32 per cent of CFOs see the CIO as a strategic partner.”
Yet CFOs who choose to work strategically with their IT leadership can secure faster adoption of four key post-digital tools that can make measurable business improvement. They are enhanced social collaboration ecosystems, analytics, mobility and the cloud.
Core Logic, an early adopter of an enhanced social collaboration ecosystem, has already achieved greater efficiencies. Historically, when finance closed the books,the process involved sequential review and coordination between accounting, tax, business finance and other departments. Communication was traditionally by email and nobody had all the information at one time.
CoreLogic implemented and adopted an enhanced collaboration site where involved parties could see and respond, in real time, to the same information.
 What used to take two to three days can now be completed in hours. Similarly, exception-based incidents and processes such as those arising out of an accounts payable or receivable issue can be resolved sooner and often better. Again, that’s because all internal departments can work simultaneously rather than giving input in a linear chain of events where no one can see all the relevant factors at once.
To achieve an effective design of such collaborative systems, it is importantfor the CFO and the CIO to collaborate on creating it, rather than the CFO viewing them simply as expenditures to approve or deny. Such an approach requires deep learning and listening, yet the performance improvements can be significant. They include the capacity for collaborative forecasting, swifter issue resolution, more rapid and customer-centered innovation, and advance fraud tracking.
A close alliance between the CFO and the CIO can also sidestep a main reason for many of the failures experienced by some of the early adopters of social tools for enterprise. That’s the lack of clear goals. Having the big picture of the firm’s needs, the CFO can set the objectives that become the criteria for the CIO to design the post-digital systems. In this way, each partner iteratively learns more about the constraints and opportunities they face as they co-create a strategic path of adoption.
In addition to the enhanced collaboration capacity of the ecosystem we described earlier, other complementary, post-digital technologies are emerging. They, too, can generate performance improvements for the enterprise. They are location-based services, listening and signal capturing, and mobile content creation and delivery.
For example, companies can now automatically tag and track people, products and even activities to create location-based efficiencies and innovation. Such tracking can lift much of the burden off globe trotting employees for recording taxes on travel expenditures. Location-based tracking can also support streamlining many operational, finance and promotional processes. It can also support real time analytics to predict how much to make and to deliver how, when and where.
The CFO can be in the coveted place to make strategic recommendations that transcend “finance” when he or she can couple that location-based capacity with the ability to sense and respond to what customers, suppliers and employers are doing. Complex as the creation of such post-digital systems can be, the upside competitive opportunity makes it alluring to attempt to design, in partnership with an equally savvy IT leader.
And we haven’t even suggested the further benefits of overlaying a mobile capacity to location-based listening and responding. With that full mobile capacity in place, firms could capture and share relevant data between customers, employers, suppliers and other participants in its post-digital ecosystem, optimally making that information available anywhere, any time, and on any device.
The risk of not understanding the capacity of these digital tools is at least as great as the opportunities of knowing enough, in partnership with a strong CIO, to make smarter decisions for their best use.
That leads to two key questions. Will it be the CEO or the CFO in your firm that takes the lead in closely planning digital tool usage with the CIO? Or, will someone on the top leadership team of a competing firm figure out first that a key to achieving their objectives is cultivating a close, mutual learning and planning relationship with the IT leader?
Eric Openshaw is the vice chairman and US Technology, Media & Telecommunications leader at Deloitte.Rich Rorem is a principal with Deloitte Consulting and the US Finance Transformation leader.
Published by 
Feb 09

CFOs: IT Workers Sense Economy Improving

Posted by jimfinnan97 in Untagged 

Get ready to pay your IT workers. They have been waiting patiently.
A global downturn in economic activity resulting in shrinking IT budgets, the financial crises of 2008, and IT outsourcing or offshoring are just a few of the potential major career disruptions IT workers have had to contend with over the last five years. It workers recognized the need to embrace their jobs because if they were let go there was great uncertainty in the prospect of finding a new job. 
A recent increase in IT professionals' confidence in the economy was largely led by a perception of more jobs being available and an increased ability to get those new jobs. Mirroring this increase in confidence is a decreased belief that IT pros will lose their jobs within the next 12 months.
Therefore IT career options are starting to improve according to this recent survey of IT professionals from Technisource.
 The company's latest IT Employee Confidence Index reveals that optimism levels have climbed above 50, after dipping below that critical mark in 2011. Overall, tech workers feel better about job security, employment-search prospects and the future of their organizations. 
"With the demand for IT professionals steadily increasing, confidence is rising once again," says Andrew Speer of Technisource. "We're seeing great demand for project managers,  analytics professionals and .NET application developers, demonstrating that companies are opening their budgets and embracing technology implementation." And one-third of employees are actively looking for new employment, Speer notes, meaning CIOs and other tech managers must focus on the needs of IT teams to avoid unnecessary hiring and re-training costs. More than 245 IT professionals took part in the research.
Here are some selected highlights from the Q4 IT Employment Report:
1. 22% of IT professionals believe the economy is getting stronger, up from just 13% the prior quarter.
2. 8% of tech workers believe more IT jobs are available now, up from 11%.
3. 42% of tech employees are confident in their ability to find a new job, up from 40% the prior quarter.
4. 63% of IT workers remain very confident about the future of their current employer, a slight increase.
5. Just 16% of IT employees believe they are likely to lose their jobs, down from 19%.
Published by
Feb 06

Facebook Access, Smartphone Options Over Salary?

Posted by jimfinnan97 in Untagged 


The headline in Austin Carr's recent article for Fast Company reads: Half of Young Professionals Value Facebook Access, Smartphone Options over Salary: Report. I have to admit, although I appreciate that money isn't everything, this blew my mind.


Feb 06

CFOs lukewarm about adding to staff

Posted by Stephen Taub in Robert HalfFinanceCareers/Managementaccounting and finance jobsaccountants

Stephen Taub

Chief financial officers are an optimistic group these days.

While a slew of recent economic indicators seem to point to a slower growing economy, 90 percent of the finance executives are confident about their companies third quarter growth, according to the latest quarterly survey by Robert Half. What's more, 43 percent say they are very confident.

Feb 03

Hiring managers more hopeful

Posted by Stephen Taub in hiring managershiringDice HoldingsCareers/Management

Stephen Taub

A survey suggests that hiring should pick up as 2011 progresses.

Dice Holdings says slightly more than half (51 percent) of employers and recruiters anticipate hiring more professionals in the second half of 2011 than in the previous six months.  Companies expecting a step-up in hiring in the next six months represented a broad spectrum of industries, including energy, technology, telecom, media, internet, distribution, financial services, consulting and retail.

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