In the life of a CFO, technology falls somewhere between an enormous opportunity and an enormous migraine. There’s the perennial question of whether tech investments ever deliver their promised ROI (or whether information technology personnel even understand the term). And, in 2006, CFOs dealt with a raft of technology headaches from a new source: regulators.
Top among them, of course, was the question of how to evaluate IT when assessing internal controls as part of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Auditors (who, after all, are accountants, not technologists) so angered the finance world with their indiscriminate testing of IT controls that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board felt compelled to specifically address the issue in its rewrite of AS2.
The year also saw a remarkable effort by Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox to breathe new life into the sluggish effort to make financial data more easily manipulated by computers. As we described in our special report, XBRL: You Can’t Ignore It Anymore, finance executives must now become familiar with how financial data is tagged and what that will mean to analysts and finance statement users.
Below is our roundup of the year in finance technology. The articles have been selected by our editors from the stories that ranked most popular among your peers and competitors. For your convenience, it is divided into five categories: Bits and Bytes, Gadgets, Financial Reporting and XBRL, IT Controls, and Security.
To see all of our technology coverage, check out the technology section of our archive.
Bits and Bytes
• Angry and Bored? You Must Be a Customer
Finding out what customers really think is a crucial first step toward an improved bottom line. New technology may help.
• Future Office
The very near future, that is, for six areas where technology is transforming business in dramatic fashion. CFO Asia examines what finance executives can do to manage the change.
• Spreadsheet by Google?
First there was Visicalc, then Lotus 1-2-3, then Excel, now . . . Google?
• Due Diligence, Quick and Clean
Using “virtual rooms,” merger targets can meet a bevy of far-flung suitors with little muss and fuss.
• Park Anywhere
Thirteen gizmos that will keep harried executives cool, calm, and connected.
• The Cost of Mobile Working
”Out of the office” contributions by employees are increasingly important to many companies’ competitive strategies. The question for the finance department: How much are we really spending to make it possible?
• CFOs and Gadgets: A Love/Hate Relationship
Execs say they spend too much time with their mobile gadgets. Then again, execs say they love their gadgets.
Financial Reporting and XBRL
• 10-Ks, 8-Ks a Thing of the Past?
In announcing that the SEC’s XBRL project will be done within a year, Chairman Christopher Cox said investors will be able to assemble their own financial data, rather than rely on current regulatory documents.
• A Vision Problem at Top Audit Firms
Do the CEOs of the top audit firms really want to use technologies such as XBRL to revolutionize financial reporting, or do they simply want to insulate their firms from liability?
Even as SEC chairman Cox champions “interactive data,” few CFOs seem impressed. Is that because too few of the benefits accrue to them?
• Ready or Not, XBRL is Coming
The SEC and FASB are gearing up for XBRL, suggesting it’s only a matter of time before its use becomes mandatory.
• Will the AICPA Take Over XBRL Standards?
Companies could be filing XBRL-ready financial statements as soon as 2008. But some observers worry that the definitions corporations will have to follow will be written almost entirely by accountants.
• Survey: IT Falls Behind on Compliance
But, fifty-eight percent of the survey respondents said their IT spending will increase.
• Solving the Audit Gap
When it comes to keeping IT-related control deficiencies to a minimum, it’s more important to improve communication than it is to improve your technology.
• SAS 70 Weak on Data Security: Experts
“If you’re depending on SAS 70 for assurances around information security, you’re depending on the wrong thing,” says one vendor.
• How to Put Your Spreadsheet in Lockdown
Will security problems render the format obsolete?
• Is Your Blackberry a Hacker’s Back Door?
Blackberries, derided as “crackberries” for their addictive qualities, may also be a crack in your company’s IT armor. A program to be released this week highlights the potential risks.
• Help! I’m Your Laptop and I’ve Been Stolen
How to recover your stolen laptop, or at least destroy its secrets, using the latest crime-stopping gizmos.
• Are Your Business Partners an IT Threat?
A third of organizations responding to a recent survey said business partners had caused a security incident in the past year.