The Other Governance Problem

Finance and tech executives disagree sharply on how IT should be managed.


Even after the voting concluded, the rhetoric about the merits of change versus the status quo continued to pour forth, and the final tally revealed not only a deep division of opinion on specific issues but also a philosophical split on the very nature of governance.

I’m speaking, of course, about our third annual IT Directions survey, in which nearly 250 senior finance executives expressed views on everything from CFO-CIO reporting relationships to the strategic value — or lack thereof — of information technology. On the latter issue they achieved a rare consensus, with 75 percent saying they do view IT as strategic; a majority plan to increase spending as a result. But they disagreed sharply on how that spending should be directed and, more broadly, on how IT should be managed. Are companies happy with the returns they’ve gotten on their IT investments? Have they gotten their arms around the ROI question? Is a successful finance-IT partnership essential to business alignment? Whether you’re seeing red, feeling blue, or enjoying a more optimistic state of mind, we’ve broken it all out for you.

We’ve also broken out, in some detail, the differences between the many companies pitching business-performance management software to CFOs. BPM can trace its roots back more than two decades, and even in its current three-letter form it no longer qualifies as new. But new entrants, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other factors are helping to galvanize the market. Our coverage includes a comparison of more than a dozen players.

If you think newer technologies are complex, consider the mess wrought by an old one: the telephone. Your company’s telecom bills are, most likely, both bigger and messier than you’d ever imagined. But where there’s a problem, there are dozens of companies pitching solutions; we take a look at the emerging field of telecom-expense management. The term may be new to you but the goal is familiar: cutting down waste and driving better bargains. But before you sign on, make sure you understand who does what, and for how much.

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