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CFOs and CIOs speak a different language

Research shows that CFOs fails to communicate effectively and CIOs lack understanding of business strategy

A new study has revealed that chief financial officers feel their IT
colleagues lack understanding of the business strategy, whilst chief information
officers find that the finance department fails to communicate goals

The survey of more than 130 senior finance professionals and IT executives
across Europe, titled ‘Are CFOs from Mars and CIOs from Venus?’, found that the
pressure is increasing on both parties to share the same agenda, but that
neither group is clear about how best collaborate in order to add value to the

Commenting on the research, Grant Waterfall, technology assurance partner at
PricewaterhouseCoopers said: ‘The perception gap between CFOs and CIOs is
revealed in their answers to questions on leadership, the ability to
collaborate, long-term strategic thinking and planning. Overall, CIOs express a
much better opinion of CFOs than vice versa. IT’s biggest complaint was a lack
of communication, even a sense of ‘financial snobbery’. Where CIOs were
reporting to CFOs rather than directly and collaboratively to the CEO they felt
a distinct lack of influence both at operations and board level.’

The report also highlighted that CFOs wanted IT to be up to ‘scratch’ on what
they felt was needed to run the organisation effectively whilst CIOs thought
that their departmental priorities had been sidelined and seek to gain a more
equal partnership.

The underlying problem brought to light seems to be that IT –speak is
considered another language by the finance department and that CFOs use a
language ‘foreign’ to their CIOs.

Tom Gunson, partner PricewaterhouseCoopers said: ‘The tension between CIOs
and CFOs is well known and it is about time it was addressed.’

‘To help develop a common language between finance and IT, organisations
should consider rotating their people through each department (and the business)
as part of their cycle of experience’ he added.

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