Information vs. intelligence: CIO–CFO unions put the smarts into information management

Man installing a circuit boardMany companies are information-rich, but intelligence-poor. They have huge amounts of data, but it is trapped in legacy platforms or there are multiple versions of the “truth” because different departments are collecting data in different ways. CIOs and CFOs play a critical role in driving an information management strategy that will turn information into intelligence.

EY’s global study – Partnering for performance: the CFO and the CIO – asked over 650 CFOs about their relationship with the CIO and their collaboration on four critical activities: cybersecurity, analytics, information management and digitizing the IT function. In this week’s post, I take a look at number three ¬– establishing an information strategy, architecture and processes – drawing out how CIOs can build collaboration with the CFO by tackling this critical area.

Information is power

According to the survey, the need for more accurate, available and accessible data to drive financial and strategic decision-making is the number one reason for closer CFO–CIO collaboration. So, where should they be focusing?

    1. Map the potential of new in-memory technologies
      New technologies, such as in-memory computing, can dramatically change the processes and role of the finance function. A single, central data architecture can enable better decision-making, lower cost of ownership and increase data accuracy. CIOs should collaborate with CFOs to build finance’s understanding of these technologies and work with them to assess the implications.
    2. Be clear about data accountability
      Many organizations suffer from siloed data structures with multiple pockets of data and no single version of the truth. Together, CIOs and CFOs can overcome resistance and entrenched interests to ensure that the organization shares and governs data differently. CIOs bring understanding of the patchwork of datasets and platforms, while CFOs use their understanding of corporate priorities to overcome barriers and focus minds. More on data governance in our post here.
    3. Build momentum before going enterprise-wide
      Implementing an information strategy is such a huge task that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Organizations should start with small, manageable and business-focused problems. Over time, as results are delivered and value demonstrated, these projects will start to converge into an enterprise-wide initiative. CIOs and CFOs will then need to set up the teams, infrastructure and technology needed, which will require IT leadership and strategic investment.

Turning information into intelligence requires a clear strategy, a coherent architecture to tackle legacy issues, and clear processes for areas such as data integrity. No individual functional leader can solve this challenge alone, but a strong CIO–CFO alliance can.

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