Tag Archives: CIO
The strategic CFO is different than the “1975 Controller CFO”
Traditionally, CIOs have tended to work with what one CIO called a “1975 Controller CFO”. For this reason, the relationship between CIOs and CFOs was expressed well in a single word “contentious”. But a new type of CFO is emerging that offers the potential of different type of relationship. These so called “strategic CFOs” can be an effective ally for CIOs. The question is which type of CFO do you have? In this post, I will provide you with a bit of a litmus test so you can determine what type of CFO you have but more importantly, I will share how you can take maximum advantage of having a strategic-oriented CFO relationship. But first let’s hear a bit more of the CIOs reactions to CFOs.
Views of CIOs according to CIO interviews
Clearly, “the relationship…with these CFOs is filled with friction”. Controller CFOs “do not get why so many things require IT these days. They think that things must be out of whack. One CIO said that they think technology should only cost 2-3% of revenue while it can easily reach 8-9% of revenue these days.” Another CIO complained by saying their discussion with a Controller CFOs is only about IT productivity and effectiveness. In their eyes, this has limited the topics of discussion to IT cost reduction, IT produced business savings, and the soundness of the current IT organization. Unfortunately, this CIO believe that Controller CFOs are not concerned with creating business value or sees information as an asset. Instead, they view IT as a cost center. Another CIO says Controller CFOs are just about the numbers and see the CIO role as being about signing checks. It is a classic “demand versus supply” issue. At the same times, CIOs say that they see reporting to Controller CFO as a narrowing function. As well, they believe it signals to the rest of the organization “that IT is not strategic and less important than other business functions”.
What then is this strategic CFO?
In contrast to their controller peers, strategic CFOs often have a broader business background than their accounting and a CPA peers. Many have, also, pursued an MBA. Some have public accounting experience. Others yet come from professions like legal, business development, or investment banking.
More important than where they came from, strategic CFOs see a world that is about more than just numbers. They want to be more externally facing and to understand their company’s businesses. They tend to focus as much on what is going to happen as they do on what has happened. Remember, financial accounting is backward facing. Given this, strategic CFOs spend a lot of time trying to understand what is going on in their firm’s businesses. One strategic CFO said that they do this so they can contribute and add value—I want to be a true business leader. And taking this posture often puts them in the top three decision makers for their business. There may be lessons in this posture for technology focused CIOs.
Why is a strategic CFO such a game changer for CIO?
One CIO put it this way. “If you have a modern day CFO, then they are an enabler of IT”. Strategic CFO’s agree. Strategic CFOs themselves as having the “the most concentric circles with the CIO”. They believe that they need “CIOs more than ever to extract data to do their jobs better and to provide the management information business leadership needs to make better business decisions”. At the same time, the perspective of a strategic CFO can be valuable to the CIO because they have good working knowledge of what the business wants. They, also, tend to be close to the management information systems and computer systems. CFOs typically understand the needs of the business better than most staff functions. The CFOs, therefore, can be the biggest advocate of the CIO. This is why strategic CFOs should be on the CIOs Investment Committee. Finally, a strategic CFO can help a CIO ensure their technology selections meet affordability targets and are compliant with the corporate strategy.
Are the priorities of a strategic CFO different?
Strategic CFOs still care P&L, Expense Management, Budgetary Control, Compliance, and Risk Management. But they are also concerned about performance management for the enterprise as whole and senior management reporting. As well they, they want to do the above tasks faster so finance and other functions can do in period management by exception. For this reason they see data and data analysis as a big issue.
Strategic CFOs care about data integration
In interviews of strategic CFOs, I saw a group of people that truly understand the data holes in the current IT system. And they intuit firsthand the value proposition of investing to fix things here. These CFOs say that they worry “about the integrity of data from the source and about being able to analyze information”. They say that they want the integration to be good enough that at the push of button they can get an accurate report. Otherwise, they have to “massage the data and then send it through another system to get what you need”.
These CFOs say that they really feel the pain of systems not talking to each other. They understand this means making disparate systems from the frontend to the backend talk to one another. But they, also, believe that making things less manual will drive important consequences including their own ability to inspect books more frequently. Given this, they see data as a competitive advantage. One CFO even said that they thought data is the last competitive advantage.
Strategic CFOs are also worried about data security. They believe their auditors are going after this with a vengeance. They are really worried about getting hacked. One said, “Target scared a lot of folks and was to many respects a watershed event”. At the same time, Strategic CFOs want to be able to drive synergies across the business. One CFO even extolled the value of a holistic view of customer. When I asked why this was a finance objective versus a marketing objective, they said finance is responsible for business metrics and we have gaps in our business metrics around customer including the percentage of cross sell is taking place between our business units. Another CFO amplified on this theme by saying that “increasingly we need to manage upward with information. For this reason, we need information for decision makers so they can make better decisions”. Another strategic CFO summed this up by saying “the integration of the right systems to provide the right information needs to be done so we and the business have the right information to manage and make decisions at the right time”.
So what are you waiting for?
If you are lucky enough to have a Strategic CFO, start building your relationship. And you can start by discussing their data integration and data quality problems. So I have a question for you. How many of you think you have a Controller CFO versus a Strategic CFO? Please share here.
Recently, we posted an initial discussion between Informatica’s CMO Marge Breya and CIO Eric Johnson, explaining how CIOs and CMOs can align and thrive. In the dialog below, Breya and Johnson provide additional detail on how their departments partner effectively.
Q: Pretty much everyone agrees that marketing has changed from an art to a science. How does that shift translate into how you work together day to day?
Eric: The different ways that marketers now have to get to the prospects and customers to grow their marketshare has exploded. It used to be a single marketing solution that was an after-thought, and bolted on to the CRM solution. Now, there are just so many ways that marketers have to consider how they market to people. It’s driven by things going on in the market, like how people interact with companies and the lifestyle changes people have made around mobile devices.
Marge: Just look at the sheer number of systems and sources of data we care about. If you want to understand upsell and cross-sell for customers you have to look at what’s happening in the ERP system, what’s happened from a bookings standpoint, whether the customer is a parent or child of another customer, how you think about data by region, by industry by job title. And there’s how you think about successful conversion of leads. Is it the way you’d predicted? What’s your most valuable content? Who’s your most valuable outlet or event? What’s your ROI? You can’t get that from any one single system. More and more, it’s all about conversion rates, about forecasting and theories about how the business is working from a model standpoint. And I haven’t even talked about social.
Q: With so many emerging technologies to look at, how do CMOs reconcile the need to quickly add new products, while CIOs reconcile the need for everything to work securely and well together?
Eric: There’s this yin and yang that’s starting to build between the CIO and the CMO as we both understand each other and the world we each live in, and therefore collaborate and partner more. But at the same time, there’s a tension between a CMO’s need to bring in solutions very quickly, and the CIO’s need to do some basic vetting of that technology. It’s a tension between speed vs. scale and liability to the company. It’s on a case-by-case basis, but as a CIO you don’t say “no.” You give options. You show CMOs the tradeoffs they’re going to make.
There are also risks that are easy to take and worth taking. They won’t cause any problems with the enterprise on a security or integration perspective, so let’s just try it. It may not work — and that’s OK.
Marge: There’s temptation across departments for the shiny new object. You’ll hear about a new technology, and you think this might solve our problems, or move the business faster. The tension even within the marketing department is: do we understand how and if it will impact the business process? And do we understand how that business process will have to change if the shiny new object comes on board?
Q: CMOs are getting data from potentially hundreds of sources, including partners, third parties, LinkedIn and Google. How do the two of you work together to determine a trustworthy data source? Do you talk about it?
Eric: The issue of trusting your data and making sure you’re doing your due diligence on it is incredibly important. Without doing that, you are running the risk of finding yourself in a very tricky situation from a legal perspective, and potentially a liability perspective. To do that, we have a lot of technology that helps us manage a lot data sources coming into a single source of truth.
On top of that, we are working with marketers who are much more savvy about technology and data. And that makes IT’s job easier — and our partnership better — because we are now talking the same language. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell where the line between the two groups actually sits. Some of the marketing people are as technical as the IT people, and some of the IT people are becoming pretty well-versed in marketing.
Q: How do you decide what technologies to buy?
Marge: A couple of weeks ago we went on a shopping trip, and spent the day at a venture capital firm looking at new companies. It was fun. He and I were brainstorming and questioning each other to see if each technology would be useful, and could we imagine how everything would go together. We first explored possibilities, and then we considered whether it was practical.
Eric: Ultimately, Marge owns the budget. But before the budgeting cycle we sit down to discuss what things she wants to work on, and whether she wants to swap technology out. I make sure Marge is getting what she needs from the technologies. There’s a reliance on the IT team to do some due diligence on the technical aspects of this technology: Does it work. Do we want to do business with these people? Is it going to scale? So each party has a role to play in evaluating whether it’s a good solution for the company. As a CIO you don’t say “no” unless there’s something really bad, and you hope you have a relationship with the CMO where you can say here are the tradeoffs you’re making. You say no one has an agenda here, but here are the risks you have to be ok taking. It’s not a “no.” It’s options.
Salesforce.com is one of the most widely used cloud applications across every industry. Initially, Salesforce gained dominance from mid-market customers due to the agility and ease of deployment that the SaaS approach delivered. A cloud-based CRM system enabled SMB companies to easily automate sales processes that recorded customer interactions during the sales cycle and scale without costly infrastructure to maintain. This resulted in faster growth, thereby showing rapid ROI of a Salesforce deployment in most cases.
The Eye of the Enterprise
When larger enterprises saw the rapid growth that mid-market players had achieved, they realized that Salesforce was a unique technology enabler capable of helping their businesses to also speed time to market and scale more effectively. In most enterpises, the Salesforce deployments were driven by line-of-business units such as Sales and Customer Service, with varying degrees of coordination with central IT groups – in fact, most initial deployments of Salesforce orgs were done fairly autonomously from central IT.
With Great Growth Comes Greater Integration Challenges
When these business units needed to engage with each other to run cross functional tasks, the lack of a single customer view across the siloed Salesforce instances became a problem. Each individual Salesforce org had its own version of the truth and it was impossible to locate where in the sales cycle each customer was in respect to each business unit. As a consequence, cross-selling and upselling became very difficult. In short, the very application that was a key technology enabler for growth was now posing challenges to meet business objectives.
Scaling for Growth with Custom Apps
While many companies use the pre-packaged functionality in Salesforce, ISVs have also begun building custom apps using the Force.com platform due to its extensibility and rapid customization features. By using Salesforce to build native applications from the ground up, they could design innovative user interfaces that expose powerful functionality to end users. However, to truly add value, it was not just the user interface that was important, but also the back-end of the technology stack. This was especially evident when it came to aggregating data from several sources, and surfacing them in the custom Force.com apps.
On April 23rd at 10am PDT, you’ll hear how two CIOs from two different companies tackled the above integration challenges with Salesforce: Rising Star finalist of the 2013 Silicon Valley Business Journal CIO Awards, Eric Johnson of Informatica, and Computerworld’s 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders, Derald Sue of InsideTrack.
Research firm Gartner, Inc., sent shockwaves across the technology landscape when it forecast CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017[i]. The rationale? “We frequently hear our technology and service provider clients tell us they are dealing with business buyers more, and need to “speak the language.” Gartner itself has fueled this inferno with assertions such as, “By 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO” (see “Webinar: By 2017 the CMO Will Spend More on IT Than the CIO”).”[ii] In the two years since Gartner first made that prediction, analysts and pundits have talked about a CIO/CMO battle for data supremacy — describing the two roles as “foes” inhabiting “separate worlds[iii]” that don’t even speak the same language.
But when CIOs are from Mars and CMOs are from Venus, their companies can end up with disjointed technologies that don’t play well together. The result? Security flaws, no single version of “truth,” and regulatory violations that can damage the business. The trick, then, is aligning the CIO and CMO planets.
Informatica’s CMO Marge Breya and CIO Eric Johnson show how they do it.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk lately about how CMOs are now the biggest users of data. That represents a shift in how CMOs and CIOs traditionally have worked together. How do you think the roles of the CMO and CIO need to mesh?
Eric: As I look across the lines of business, and evaluate the level of complexity, the volume of data and the systems we’re supporting, marketing is now by far the most complex part of the business we support. The systems that they have, the data that they have, has grown exponentially over the last four or five years. Now more than ever, [CMOs and CIOs are] very much attached at the hip. We have to be working in conjunction with one another.
Marge: Just to add to that I’d say over the last five years, we’ve been attached to things like CRM systems, or partner relationship systems. From a marketing standpoint, it has really been about management: How do you have visibility into what’s happening with the business. But over the last couple of years it’s become increasingly more important to focus on the “R” word — the relationship: How do you look at a customer name and understand how it relates to their past buying behavior. As a result, you need to understand how information lives from system to system, all across a time series, in order to make really great decisions. The “relate’ word is probably most important, at least in my team right now, and it’s not possible for me to relate data across the organization without having a great relationship with IT.
Q: So how often do you find yourselves talking together?
Eric: We talk to each other probably weekly, and I think our teams work together daily. There’s a constant collaboration and making sure that we’re in sync. You hear about the CIO/CMO relationship. I think it should be an easy relationship because there’s so much going on technology-wise and data-wise that the CMOs are becoming much more technically knowledgeable, and CIOs are starting to understand more and more what’s going on in their business that the line between them should be all about how you work together.
Marge: Of all the business partners in the company, Eric … helps us in marketing reimagine how marketing can be done. If the two of us can go back and forth, understand what’s working and what’s not working, and reimagine how we can be far more effective, or productive or know new things — to me that’s the judge of a healthy relationship between a CIO and a CMO. And luckily, we have that.
Q: It seems as if 2013 was the year of “big data.” But a Gartner survey[iv] said “The adoption is still at the early stages with fewer than 8% of all respondents indicating their organization has deployed big data solutions.” What do you think are the issues that are making it so difficult for companies?
Eric: The concept of big data is something companies want to get involved in. They want to understand how they can leverage this fast-growing volume of data from various sources. But the challenge is being able to understand what you’re looking for, and to know what kind of questions you have.
Marge: There’s a big focus on big data, almost for the sake of it in some cases. People get confused about whether it’s about the haystack, or the needle. Having a haystack for the heck of it isn’t usually what’s done. It’s for a purpose. It’s important to understand what part of that haystack is important for what part of your business. How up-to-date is it? How much can you trust the data. How much can you make real decisions from it. And frankly, who should have access to it. So much of the data we have today is sensitive, affected by privacy laws and other kinds of regulations. I think big data is appropriately a great term right now, but more importantly, it’s not just about big data, it’s about great data. How are you going to use it? And how it’s going to affect your business process.
Eric: You could go down into a rat hole if you’re chasing something and you’re not really sure what you’re going to do with it.
Marge: On the other hand, you can explore years of behavior and maybe come up with a great predictive model for what a new buying signal scoring engine could look like.
Q: One promise of big data is the ability to pull in data from so many sources. That would suggest a real need for you two to work together to ensure the quality and the integrity of the data. How do you collaborate on those issues?
Eric: There’s definitely a lot of work that has to be done working with the CMO and the marketing organization: To sit down and understand where’s this data coming from, what’s it going to be used for, and making sure you have the people and processing components. Especially with the level of complexity we have, with all the data coming in from so many sources, making sure that we really map that out, understand the data and what it looks like and what some of the challenges could be. So it’s partnering very closely with marketing to understand those processes, understand what they want to do with the data, and then putting the people, the processes and the technology in place so you can trust the data and have a single source of truth.
Marge: You hit the nail on the head with “people, process and technology.” Often, folks think of database quality or accuracy as being an IT problem. It’s a business problem. Most people know their business, they know what their data should look like. They know what revenue shapes should look like. What’s norm for the business. If the business people aren’t there from a governance standpoint, from a stewardship standpoint — literally saying “does this data make sense?” — without that partnership, forget it.
Gartner does a nice job of describing the digital landscape that marketers are facing today in its infographic below. In order to use technology as a differentiator, organizations need to get the most value from their data. The relationships between these technology is going to make the difference between organizations that gain a competitive advantage from their operations and the laggards.
[i] Gartner Research, December 20, 2013, “Market Trends: The Rising Importance of the Business Buyer – Fact of Fiction?” Derry N. Finkeldey
[ii] Gartner Research, December 20, 2013, “Market Trends: The Rising Importance of the Business Buyer – Fact of Fiction?” Derry N. Finkeldey
[iii] Gartner blog, January 25, 2013, “CMOs: Are You Cheating on Your CIO?”, Jennifer Beck, Vice President & Gartner Fellow
[iv] Gartner Research, September 12, 2013, “Survey Analysis: Big Data Adoption in 2013 Shows Substance Behind the Hype,” Lisa Kart, Nick Heudecker, Frank Buytendijk
In a previous blog post, I wrote about when business “history” is reported via Business Intelligence (BI) systems, it’s usually too late to make a real difference. In this post, I’m going to talk about how business history becomes much more useful when combined operationally and in real time.
E. P. Thompson, a historian pointed out that all history is the history of unintended consequences. His idea / theory was that history is not always recorded in documents, but instead is ultimately derived from examining cultural meanings as well as the structures of society through hermeneutics (interpretation of texts) semiotics and in many forms and signs of the times, and concludes that history is created by people’s subjectivity and therefore is ultimately represented as they REALLY live.
The same can be extrapolated for businesses. However, the BI systems of today only capture a miniscule piece of the larger pie of knowledge representation that may be gained from things like meetings, videos, sales calls, anecdotal win / loss reports, shadow IT projects, 10Ks and Qs, even company blog posts – the point is; how can you better capture the essence of meaning and perhaps importance out of the everyday non-database events taking place in your company and its activities – in other words, how it REALLY operates.
One of the keys to figuring out how businesses really operate is identifying and utilizing those undocumented RULES that are usually underlying every business. Select company employees, often veterans, know these rules intuitively. If you watch them, and every company has them, they just have a knack for getting projects pushed through the system, or making customers happy, or diagnosing a problem in a short time and with little fanfare. They just know how things work and what needs to be done.
These rules have been, and still are difficult to quantify and apply or “Data-ify” if you will. Certain companies (and hopefully Informatica) will end up being major players in the race to datify these non-traditional rules and events, in addition to helping companies make sense out of big data in a whole new way. But in daydreaming about it, it’s not hard to imagine business systems that will eventually be able to understand the optimization rules of a business, accounting for possible unintended scenarios or consequences, and then apply them in the time when they are most needed. Anyhow, that’s the goal of a new generation of Operational Intelligence systems.
In my final post on the subject, I’ll explain how it works and business problems it solves (in a nutshell). And if I’ve managed to pique your curiosity and you want to hear about Operational Intelligence sooner, tune in to to a webinar we’re having TODAY at 10 AM PST. Here’s the link.
“Business-IT alignment.” The words have been touted so much by vendors (including Informatica), that they have become a platitude. But that doesn’t mean the concept itself isn’t still critical. This recent article in the IT Leader Potential at Work community lists the three actions IT must take to make a real impact on the business, starting by “inciting a revolution” among IT staff and turning them into business thinkers. Check out the article and share your thoughts here.
Informatica Corporation CIO, Tony Young talks about the benefits of the Virtual Data Machine for companies.
Data scientist may be the hot job of 2013, but many data professionals report they are already doing much of the work that would be defined as the data scientist role. They just aren’t calling themselves data scientists – at least not yet.
In a new survey of 199 data managers I conducted as part of my work with Unisphere Research and Information Today, Inc., we found that the traits of data scientists – individuals whose backgrounds include IT and programming; math and statistics; and a willingness to look at things differently—are already seen within today’s organizations, in the day to day work performed by database administrators, analysts, managers and consultants. The survey was conducted among members of the Independent Oracle Users Group. (more…)
Data volumes are exploding. We see it all around us. The problem is that too much data can have a very negative impact on user productivity. Think about how long it takes to sift through emails after returning from vacation? Consider how long it takes to complete a purchase on an Ecommerce sight on Black Friday? The more data, the longer any of these processes take and the more time spent combing through more and more data. Informatica has been successfully working with Symantec and our customers through our partnership to help them find ways to control the impact of ‘too much data’. We are helping them to define projects that improve their ability to meet SLAs and application performance, reduce costs and mitigate any compliance risks – all while IT budgets remain relatively flat. (more…)