Battle-tested CFO’s bottom line is not just $$$ these days

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The role of the CFO has changed dramatically over the last few years. With the advent of things like Sarbanes-Oxley, and a host of other regulatory and compliance issues, combined with more pressure than ever to reduce cost and drive performance, CFOs are in the hot seat.

For instance, it is increasingly the CFO who signs off on key compliance documents like Sarbanes-Oxley, the executive who personally assures that the personally identifiable information held about the company's employees and customers is secured, away from those who would gain unauthorized access. Credit card numbers must be secured in order to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements. From HIPAA to GLBA to Basel II and more, the list goes on. And the CFO must make sure all is well...because it's his or her name on the bottom line. Literally.

Achieving compliance for SOX, PCI, HIPAA and others is a technology issue more than anything else. As a result, today's CFOs are more involved than ever before in the role that technology plays at every phase of the company's operations.

IT is often one of the largest cost centers within an organization. When a CFO is looking for ways to reduce cost within their business, IT is often the first place they look. CFOs today are more informed and are a key decision maker in many technology related purchasing decisions.

So, when trying to sell a technology solution like cloud computing, or SaaS, or enterprise storage, it's important that vendors and solution providers think like the CFO. Above all else, the executive will want to consider such items as cost, security, where is my data being kept? Who has access to it? Is it being stored with other companies' data, etc.

That's before you ever get to more standard issues such as uptime, service level agreements, and other areas where the CIO traditionally holds sway.

As vendors, we have to think this stuff through, and set up systems that both anticipate the CFO's questions, and exceed expectations. That way, we'll all win: the service provider, the CFO and both the company and its customers.