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The Ledger

Posted by Patrick Youngs

Insights from IBM's Latest CFO Survey

The study surveyed over 5,000 top executives (643 CFOs) about what the future holds and how they’re preparing their organizations for the “age of disruption.” The resulting CFO study outlines what the ‘financial sages’ of the most successful enterprises do differently.

CFOs as Value Integrators and Performance Accelerators

IBM found that 19% of CFOs (and their teams) surveyed fall into the category of Value Integrators, defined as teams that are both particularly efficient and skilled at producing business insights.  Of this group, 4% of finance teams fall into an elite category called Performance Accelerators, defined as those who also possess superior analytical powers and excel at perusing profitable growth.

“The effort required to create these topnotch finance teams has paid off handsomely. Enterprises with Performance Accelerators are 55 percent more likely than other finance teams to enjoy outstanding revenue growth and 57 percent more likely to be highly profitable.”

Differences that IBM believes put Performance Accelerators on top:

  • Fine gauge: Performance Accelerators have superior planning and monitoring skills
  • Competitive Edge: Performance Accelerators seek new markets
  • Eyes ahead: Performance Accelerators are actively exploring the impact of the next wave
  • Deep dive: Performance Accelerators are considering new revenue models and partnerships
  • Crunch time: Performance Accelerators rely on predictive analytics to plan and manage risk
  • Model design: Performance Accelerators use predictive analytics more extensively to stimulate growth
  • Core policy: Performance Accelerators adopt a more centralized approach

How do they do it? Integrate, Analyze and Adapt

The IBM survey provides guidance on what top CFOs and their finance teams do to deliver more business value. One of the key differentiators is that Performance Accelerators integrate information from across the enterprise at an 85% higher rate than other finance teams.

"Three quarters of respondents said it’s vital to integrate information and resources across their enterprises, for example. Yet less than half [reported that] their people are up to the job.”

Powerful analytics rely on having integrated data from multiple sources, including financial, operational and external information.   This complete picture allows the CFO to provide insights to business-unit leaders around areas such as the revenue potential of specific customers and ways to optimize capital spending.

Aptitude Software’s Perspective

IBM's findings fit what we hear from our clients on a daily basis. We serve CFOs who are striving to move from being the financial stewards and scorekeepers to strategic leaders of the business. Many of our clients call on us for new ways to integrate and standardize data, automate core accounting processes and build high-quality data foundations that facilitate analysis and decision-making.

Further reading:

Gary Simon’s latest briefing on "How should CFOs respond to the era of postmodern ERP?"

The complete IBM CFO Study can be accessed here: http://www-935.ibm.com/services/c-suite/study/

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