by Amy Higgins
When making technology decisions, today’s CFOs (or CIOs, or whoever oversees technology investments) navigate a tricky path. Their mission – to choose technology that will pay for itself, yield ROI for the business, and appease all company stakeholders – may in fact seem impossible. What’s more, there isn’t exactly a true roadmap for tech decision makers to achieve this.
“As we plow through this period of digital disruption, where established rules for competing may no longer apply, some CIOs now question what they want for themselves,” said Kim Nash, in a recent CIO.com article highlighting the State of the CIO report. “The profession is changing fast in an atmosphere where colleagues sometimes look upon a traditional IT group as a hindrance to corporate success.”
Luckily the guidelines for making essential technology investments are a bit more cut and dried.
According to Nash, “one thing thriving CIOs have in common is that they continually strive to make the IT group indispensable in diverse areas of the business.”
“Don’t wait to be asked into the fray,” says Cora Carmody, CIO of Jacobs Engineering Group, a $10.9 billion technical services provider. “Prove IT’s worth by stepping into critical situations.”
And that means proactively addressing essential technology investments instead of waiting to be asked to fix it.
According to the 2013 Gartner Financial Executives International CFO Technology Study, a study aimed at discovering how the CFO’s interest in the “Nexus of Forces” has an impact on CFO investment priorities, mobile technologies (including on-demand applications and SaaS) ranked third, behind only business intelligence/performance management and enterprise business applications. And of the business applications that support the finance organization seen as primary candidates for mobile devices, travel and expense management was the clear leader.
Choosing the right technology
When choosing business applications to invest in, the safest bet is to go the best-in-class, tried-and-true route. These applications often have:
- A proven track record
- The ability to integrate and “play nice” with existing technology
- A recognition among stakeholders that facilitates buy-in, and the resources and experience available to facilitate implementation and ROI
A few things to consider
Expenses after the purchase aren’t necessarily overlooked in many cases, but they certainly aren’t given the amount of due diligence needed to perform a proper analysis. Will you need technical support that will ultimately increase your total cost of ownership?
Think about where you can scale down needed tech investments. For example, you may need new computers; however, the work 99% of your employees perform does not require a graphics card.
Strongly consider the cost of not having the technology. Investing in technology that eases the burden on the sales department and facilitates revenue generation – like software that allows you to do away with time-consuming expense report forms – can be one of the easier ways to achieve ROI.