Why CFOs and CIOs have got to talk about cloud

Daniel Miller Profile picture for user Dan Miller September 15, 2014
Cloud business systems can boost innovation and business growth but only if CFOs and CIOs actually talk to each other about what's possible

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In executive office suites at businesses across the globe, there are CFOs and CIOs who have not yet sat down for a long conversation about how the cloud can increase value for their companies. But it’s high time they did.

Whether it’s a CIO clinging to territorial dominion over his data center in the face of the push to the cloud or a CFO resistant to change and worried about data security and ownership, the respective leaders of the finance and IT organization need to talk, especially as it relates to business management software. Software as a Service is certainly on the radar of most CIOs at this point, and forward-thinking CFOs have often been the ones pushing their organization into the cloud thanks to its capex/opex friendly subscription model and economies of scale. But the importance to finance and IT of the cloud and its impact on the business goes well beyond saving time and money.

Take for example the emergence of companies selling both products and services (computer hardware vendors selling professional services or car makers selling extended warrantees) or the impact of new revenue recognition standards on solution selling and bundling. If the CFO and CIO don’t partner closely and instead remain focused on their own island of influence, addressing the business changes this creates is a far more difficult endeavor.

So, how does the conversation start and how does a CIO who needs to convince a CFO not yet invested in cloud ERP to make the move? Here are a few starting points on what difference a cloud-based business suite can make:

Quickly, easily adapt to tax and regulatory changes

With one software code base, cloud ERP vendors can quickly make changes to the core system to reflect changes in tax law or regulatory oversight — not to mention improved functionality — across the globe and push it out to customers as part of the regular upgrades. With on-premise systems, CFOs are forced to wait for patches, or worse, run their calculations in spreadsheets that are often error-riddled, insecure and in multiple versions.

Centralized dashboards give everyone visibility

Dashboards are nothing new, but a dashboard based on one core system of record across customer and financial data that anyone in the organization can access anywhere at any time? That’s a company that fully understands where its money is coming from, where its investments are paying off and how to communicate that to its board members.

And how does a CFO convince a CIO resisting the journey to the cloud that now is the time?

The upgrade nightmare is over

ERP upgrades and the sleepless nights, working weekends and disruption they require are no longer a job requirement. With cloud ERP, CIOs can rest easy knowing they’re regularly receiving the latest functionality with automatic upgrades. Better yet, customizations are carried through automatically.

A single data model

With a unified suite that runs in the cloud, CIOs have a single data model to work with. The business intelligence and reports that everyone is clamoring for and that require importing and exporting from one system to another suddenly become a simple matter of accessing the system — and a single source of truth. That also means simpler customizations, extensions and a partner ecosystem that can focus on innovation and specialization, not integrations.

But perhaps the best argument for a cloud-based business suite for both the CFO and CIO is what it can mean for their role in the organization.

A stronger role in business decisions

With a unified suite of cloud applications, when the CEO walks into the office with a new idea the CFO doesn’t have to worry about supporting that decision with financial data spread across spreadsheets and the CIO doesn’t have to worry about integrations or taking months or years to set up a new office or subsidiary with a separate instance. Better yet, the CFO and CIO are now empowered and enabled to discover and propose new proposals of their own. CIOs and CFOs who are not focused on value creation are going to get left behind.

A partnership between the CIO and CFO really ensures that they’re making the technology choices not just for compliance that we can close the books and check the security assurance box, but to really drive revenue and create new opportunities. Most importantly, a close relationship enables these leaders to support new offerings, from the front office to the back office, in a more seamless way.

A CIO can lead a company into the cloud and a CFO can do the same, but those that partner to ensure a smooth and successful transition are the ones that will reap the greatest rewards.

Learn more about how NetSuite can help CIOs drive innovation and transformation while CFOs optimize business growth

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