The most recent ITFMA World of IT Financial Management Conference was held earlier this month in beautiful Savannah, Georgia. Despite being in one of the most historic cities in the country, the conference was focused only on looking toward the future. Through a variety of sessions exploring all aspects of IT Financial Management (ITFM), the conference gave attendees a glimpse of the changing role of ITFM professionals and how to adapt to the significant corporate change occurring in the use of technology to meet strategic business outcomes.
One of the most interesting things about the conference was the number of new and young faces, with more than 80 percent of attendees in one session indicating that this was their first ITFMA conference. With the high number of newcomers, it is clear that a new generation is entering the ITFM space. Yet, these newest entrants to the field will be met by a number of challenges, brought about by the growing prevalence of mobility, social media, Big Data, cloud computing and shadow IT.
Moving Beyond the Basics of IT
In one of the most interesting sessions, “Beyond Facts & Figures: IT Financial Managers as Valued Business Partners,” Lee Jaffe, IT Controller for Data Center Services for ADP, presented a case for why IT finance leaders need to move beyond just the IT basics to become leaders in data management strategy and valued partners to the rest of the business. If ITFM professionals are able to innovate and prove their effectiveness to the organization as a whole, he contended, they will gain significant strategic relevance.
Jaffe provided several strategies and best practices ITFM professionals can use to enhance their standing in the organization and account for the changing dynamics. For instance, understanding the latest trends impacting the business and packaging financial data in a way that highlights the value of the company’s IT investments and is easily consumable will go a long way in improving their value. In addition, Jaffe stressed the importance of not spending too much time counting and reconciling spend, in favor of devoting more time to understanding what can be done differently to get better results.
Preparing for the Future
The evolving role of the ITFM practitioner was further highlighted in the session, “Effective Innovation Mandates Strategy to Execution.” This presentation showed how changing business priorities, such as a renewed focus on growth through innovation and the ability to maintain cost efficiencies, have created new challenges for the CIO and the rest of the IT team who must respond quickly and dynamically to stay relevant and help the company drive innovation.
The session also highlighted the ways that CIOs can prepare for their changing role of the future, which entails:
- Better portfolio management to determine the optimal mix and sequencing of IT-enabled business investments
- Enhanced financial management to drive investment and business value through accurate budgeting and forecasting, cost management and detailed financial analysis
- Effective relationship management by way of managing relationships with business partners and suppliers top down and bottom up for greatest agility and innovation
Predicting What’s to Come
The numerous challenges facing IT were further explored in a session presented by IDC, “2013 CFO Predictions & Outlook: Emerging Issues Driven by the IT Financial Footprint.” The session demonstrated how IT is no longer about enabling the business, but rather how IT is the business by providing the transformative technology needed to drive corporate strategy in the future.
The session also presented several eye-opening CIO survey data points from IDC about the future of the IT function that further emphasize the need among ITFM practitioners to adapt and change to meet this new reality:
- IDC predicts that by 2016, line of business executives will control 80 percent of new IT investments.
- By 2015, 90 percent of IT investments will be evaluated in terms of strategic goals rather than just “IT investments.”
- Over the next 3 years, CIOs and CFOs will move to “zero capital” and completely transform the IT financial model.
Starting on the Path to Improvement Today
In addition to sitting in on many of the insightful ITFMA sessions, we also shared our own insight and expertise on the changing ITFM landscape. In the session, “The Top Five Best Practices to Reduce Your Company’s IT Spend and Achieve an ROI from Your ITFM Efforts,” we provided attendees with several strategies ITFM professionals can implement in their organizations today to get started on the path to improving ITFM efforts in the future; from managing factors like cost allocation and internal billing in a more fair and objective process, to employing a repeatable method for data collection and analysis rather than as a one-time event.
We were pleased to share the tips and strategies that help the ITFM community better position their operations and prepare for innovative ITFM processes. As the role of the CIO continues to evolve, CIOs and other ITFM professionals will be expected to take a larger, more strategic role in driving the business. No longer just about providing a set of IT products, the changing future of corporate technology investment strategies means that ITFM professionals must become more descriptive and prescriptive, enabling the delivery of technology solutions that move the business forward rather than maintain business as usual. As we experienced at this year’s ITFMA conference in Savannah, the future of the industry is on everyone’s mind. Fortunately, many of the world’s best ITFM thought leaders of today were on hand to share insights and strategies with the new ITFM leaders of tomorrow.