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CIO role will eventually cease to exist, claim CFOs

But are they right?

The position of chief information officer could disappear from the business landscape within five years' time, according to nearly one in five chief financial officers questioned in a snapshot survey.

Seventeen percent of the 203 CFOs who participated in the poll, part of a report released today by Getronics entitled 'The Changing Role of the CFO', said they believe the role of CIO will cease to exist.

This was attributed to the changing way businesses purchase and consume IT - signalling the increasing importance of utility-based and Cloud computing, where IT services are rented out on a pay-per-use model rather than purchased and installed outright.

Nearly one in six were however undecided as to the fate of the CIO, while there was the overall perception that increased attention on IT from finance will result on the role at board level.

The report found that the economic slowdown had lead to the greater involvement of finance teams in all areas of organisations, including IT, and that the key measure of the business effectiveness was return on investment.

The results highlighted a general trend towards the merger of IT and financial operations, with senior financial managers assuming greater responsibility for IT decisions - more than four in ten of whom believed the role of CIO would be eventually subsumed under finance. Yet while more than half said a lack of integration between IT and finance limited the ability to make savings, a third of respondents actually noted a decrease in the services coming together.

The full findings of the survey make for interesting reading, providing a glimpse of how CFOs envisage the future of IT provision within a business framework.

For Cloud computing there emerged a picture of gradually increasing uptake and the majority of CFOs polled predicting a move away from license-based IT spend.

While actual use varied across different businesses, nearly a fifth of business and majority of businesses said that such services accounted for at least 'a small part of their IT use'. Cloud's reputation was bolstered through its association to 'positive business change', with 64 per cent of respondents identifying it as a source of 'improvements to operations'.

The authors concluded that adoption of Cloud is "progressing, albeit at a moderate rate".

The online survey, of senior finance professionals in UK organisations employing over 500 people, was conducted in January 2012 by Loudhouse. Getronics is an IT services company that specialises in collaboration, cloud and managed services.


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