Cloud Computing: An Opportunity to Strengthen the CIO-CFO Relationship

Lindsey Nelson

Cloud Computing: An Opportunity to Strengthen the CIO-CFO RelationshipBusinesses of every industry and size are facing economic and market changes that often prove difficult – if not impossible – to forecast.

This leaves companies vulnerable to fluctuating swings in demand and under- or over-investment in IT. Underestimating demand can lead to missed opportunities, outages, and other major disruptions to your business.

Overestimating demand, on the other hand, can result in write-offs for unused capacity and facilities. The inherent flexibility of cloud computing can free CFOs and CIOs from these worries, while providing a more efficient way to manage actual demand.

While the cost benefits of cloud computing are well understood, CFOs and CIOs have had difficulty getting a handle on the greater potential benefit – business agility. Their dialogue is likely to focus on “How much capital and operational expense can we cut with cloud?” and not “How will cloud improve revenue and make us more agile?” This focus on cost savings has shaped the relationship between CFOs and CIOs at many companies.

Bringing the power of the CIO back into IT

According to a 2011 Gartner study in conjunction with Financial Executives International, the CFO in 45% of organizations “…makes or leads IT investment strategy.” According to the study, CFOs are increasingly becoming more involved with IT leadership – driven by the fact that only 25% of CFOs believe that their CIO is a key player in determining business strategy and delivering against that strategy. The study also noted a rising influence of the CFO over the IT department – with 42% of IT organizations surveyed reporting directly to the CFO.

There is perhaps no relationship more contentious in the C-suite than the one between the CIO and the CFO. Over the last few years, some companies have gone as far as choosing CFOs to lead their technology transformation efforts. But, others have proven that CIOs and CFOs can build a close working relationship in which they partner together to achieve business goals.

With the emergence of cloud computing, CIOs have an opportunity to play an expanded role in business strategy and become an equal partner with the CFO. By offering both cost savings and greater business value in the form of business agility, cloud computing can help put the CFO and CIO on the same page and improve the alignment between their organizations. Working together, they can drive a much tighter connection between IT transformation and business transformation.

Want to learn more?

Interested in more about the cloud models that are available and their benefits? Read the white paper “Aligning CIO and CFO Priorities” from IDG Enterprise.


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Mobile Device: Lost and Found

SAP Guest

By Benjamin Robbins, @paladorbenjamin

Every day there are more than 200 phones left in New York cabs. In one year that adds up to 73,000 devices in just New York City alone. Extrapolate that phenomenon out to all the major metropolises across the globe and you are faced with a staggering statistic.

There are many reasons as to why they are left behind, from people in a hurry to people who party. In the end the ‘why’ doesn’t matter, the net result is the same – a lost device. For those who lost the device this is an inconvenience. However, if the phone is connected to your work network, it represents much more than an inconvenience. It is a security threat.

Increasingly our personal devices are making their way into the enterprise. Through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives and employee demand, mobile computing is rapidly transforming the way work is done. But it is also changing the way sensitive corporate information must be secured and managed. From device management, to app management, to information management businesses are finding that they can quickly fall behind the security curve.

This first video short in the yearlong series puts a comical spin on losing a mobile device. For many organizations though this is no laughing matter. It is no longer an option for business to idly sit on the sidelines hoping nothing will happen. There are far too many benefits of a mobile workforce to miss out. However, these benefits must be met with equal precaution in protecting the corporate network, and more importantly, corporate data.

Organizations need to fold mobility into their IT strategy. Mobility must fit into the larger whole of productivity and protection. Mobility is no longer an add-on that is off to the side of ‘real work’. Conducting work on mobile devices will only grow more rapidly as the capabilities of devices and services increase.

But this must be done with a comprehensive security plan that is neither too restrictive not too permissive for employees. Lock it down too much and employees will find a way around. Leave it too open and you risk exposure. However, businesses who understand the possibilities presented by a mobile workforce and leverage them to their fullest will flourish far into the future.

What is your strategy for the future? Where does mobility fit in for your business? Are you prepared to tame the threats in order to reap the rewards?

Benjamin Robbins is a founding partner of Palador, a consultancy that provides strategic guidance and execution to enterprises in the areas of mobility, apps, and data. Benjamin has spent the last 15 years working with organizations on shaping and implementing their technical vision. Benjamin is a leader in the enterprise mobility field. Besides writing on, he is also a regular contributor to the Enterprise Mobility Forum and The Guardian on mobility topics such as strategy, BYOD, The Consumerization of IT, Enterprise Mobility Management, and security. Benjamin is currently in the middle of a year-long experiment of working solely from his smartphone.

This article originally appeared on The Guardian and was republished with permission.


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Nearly Half Of Marketers Don’t Know Who Their Best Customers Are

Steve Olenski

I have to admit when I first came across this statistic – which comes courtesy of a survey conducted by RSR Research, I had to go back and re-read it again. Then get more coffee and re-read it again.

But there it was, 56% of retail marketers have essentially no clue as to who their best customers are. However, as I kept reading about the survey via, I came across an even more head-pounding stat which is that the 56% number is markedly lower than last year’s number of 73%.

I’m sorry, how in the world can you explain this? How in the world do so many marketers not know who their most valuable, most-cherished customers are?

The author of the piece on theorized that this staggeringly low number is directly contributing to the other key finding in the survey below which spoke to the challenge retail marketers face when it comes to retention and loyalty: “Presumably, this (the low number of retailers who know who their best customers are) contributes to the challenges faced by retailers in building customer retention and loyalty.”

No, you think?

How can you retain them and build loyalty among them when you don’t know who they are in the first place? Now that’s a trick I would like to see for sure.

But misery, or in this case, ineptitude, loves company for retail only marketers were not the only group with such a low aggregate acumen of their Most Valuable Customers (MVCs). From a study which surveyed across a wide range of industries earlier this year by Acxiom and Loyalty360 where a mere 49% indicated they know who their MVCs are:

Again, how can you hope to retain someone and build trust and loyalty when you don’t know whom you are speaking of or to? I just find these low percentages to be downright frightening for in today’s data-driven world, where you can know, in real time in many cases – not only who your best customers are but what they are doing when it comes to you brand – how you (marketer) can claim ignorance when it comes to identifying them in the first place?

Here Kitty, Kitty

Back in March I wrote a piece titled Curiosity May Have Killed The Cat But Complacency Will Kill The Marketer in which I shared findings of another survey which revealed that 60% of all the respondents – who were comprised of executives in both B2B and B2C companies from a cross section of industries, dedicate less than 20% of their marketing budget to customer retention.

Yes that is a very low number for sure but this all goes back to the fact you cannot retain them if you don’t know them.

And once you do know them, well as I wrote back in March “Mr. and Mrs. Brand, remember who brought you to the dance, aka your most valuable customers. Don’t ignore them once the dance starts, talk to them, engage with them and stay engaged. And dance your little hearts away all the way to the proverbial bank.


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What You Think About HR: 10 Things You Love And Hate [Infographic]

Todd Wilms

Would you believe HR has never had it better?

Technology has given it access to huge applicant pools, making it easier to find the most talented candidates, and provide them with high-quality training once they are hired. Global payroll has become routine. HR operations have become so efficient in the last five years that they now driving those efficiencies throughout entire organizations.

Say what, didn’t get that memo? It is because HR still has an image problem, not a usefulness problem. What HR needs today is an extreme makeover to highlight the enormous across-the-board advances, rather than prolonging HR’s error-prone, lazy, and bureaucratic rep it has been given.

We reviewed over 2B impressions from online conversations including more than 400K mentions of HR in blogs, news articles, and social networks. The results: HR appears to be a hot topic but not necessarily led by an overly passionate group (Passion Intensity score: 30 and overall Net Sentiment score: 57). One of my life quotes is with every negative there is a positive. We explore the top 5 things we love and 5 things we don’t like about HR.

written with Ray Rivera and Tammie Eldridge

SAP NetBase HCM Infographic


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Why You Don’t Need To Buy Any Social Software

Chris Heffer

(Until you read this post)

Why You Don’t Need To Buy Any Social Software

If my last post on why I wish social was NOT  in my job title didn’t throw up enough controversy – then this one might!

“Invest in social culture before social technology”  

In this post I will explain the harsh question you need to ask yourself before you decide to spend a pound, euro or dollar on any social media related software. And while you’re at it, hold the head count for any staff to work on social media as well.

Social is a not about the technology, it is about a cultural shift to create a more honest, open, transparent way of doing business.

“No one can sell you a tool to fix your culture”  

To clarify my definition of software in relation to this post I am talking about a company trying to sell you a tool do something with social: monitoring, responses, collaboration tools, etc. I am not including free software such as WordPress, HootSuite etc.

You can achieve so much without spending a penny. If you have a plan which builds a strategy for using free social tools  is closely aligned to your core business objectives, then you could achieve more than any other “social strategy” which could easily cost hundreds of thousands or more.

So what if you have 100,000 likes on Facebook. Who cares if you’ve got 100,000 followers on Twitter. Neither of these translate into anything your CEO cares about.

Free things to do with social that really help drive business in a way your CEO cares about

The goals of most businesses can be linked to these things

  • Get more customers
  • Keep the customers you have got
  • Sell more to your existing customers
  • Do the same thing but at a reduced cost

Let me give you three examples which cost you nothing and will help you to achieve the first objective of getting more customers

1. Get more customers using Twitter

To win more customers: you need to be a better company to do business with than your competitors.

If you visit you have free access to everyone in the world on Twitter. You can search for questions people are asking in your industry and then help people out. This is a great technique championed by one of the originators on social media Gary Vaynerchuk. He set up a an online wine shop and spent many many hours everyday answering questions like “what wine goes with fish?” He simply answers  ”Sauvignon Blanc would go well with fish”. Not promoting his products but providing value and indirectly showing his potential customers how helpful he is and why they should do business with him.

Gary says treat Twitter like a cocktail party, just use it to talk to people. Watch this video to understand more.

2. Get more customers by using blogging to answer questions

Marcus Sheridan uses social media, and specifically, blogging to answer questions that his prospects and customers want to know the answers to. As a result he starts to build trust and over time converts his prospects to customers.

Check out this video interview with him to explain more:

Great example of this kind of blog post

3. Get more customers by using blogging to be honest about your products

If you are selling product A and you are competing with product B then you (the sales person) for product A will tell the prospect all the great things about product A. The sales person selling product B will tell the prospect all the problems with your product. This leaves the prospect very confused as to what and who to believe.

If you are honest and talk about any potential problems with your product and give the prospect a good explanation about how to fix that problem or why that problem is not such a big concern in their circumstances, then you would gain trust from that prospect. When sales person B tries to convince the prospect that product A is bad because of X, Y and Z, the prospect will already know the unbiased truth about your product.

Great example of this kind of blog post

“Social media is a mindset not a tool set” 

Social media can achieve so much more for everyone. These are three examples which can achieve great results in one area of the business. If you can not convince the CEO that one of these three ideas is worth doing then good luck trying to get him to shell out £1,000′s to buy some AMAZING social software solution.

If the leaders in your business do not buy into these ideas when there are no costs (just labour time) then you are probably wasting your time trying to get them to buy anything that costs money.

Your company may think that it’s all a waste of time and of no value, bit I think there is a way forward. If you and a couple of passionate fellow employees think it is the right thing to do, then why don’t you set up an unofficial answers blog.  Start publishing the content on this site.

Be sure to make it clear that it is nothing to do with your company so you won’t get in trouble (I don’t think!?). You can even link back to the company website to prove how much traffic you are bringing them. If the content you create is good enough then people will start going to your site. You can then present the evidence about how successful your site has been and the leaders will hopefully reward you for your initiative, eat humble pie and bring it into the company website.

If they still don’t buy into it, then I would advise you to do one of two things

  • Use the site as a case study of your work and get another job where your talent and initiative is valued
  • If you want to be cheeky – keep writing the content and monetize the blog through affiliate links and sell the traffic back to your company through a third party affiliate marketing company


To summarize: there absolutely is a place for social software but it is useless unless you can change the culture of  your business. If you cannot convince your manager or whoever needs to approve the project to do something that has zero outlay cost then how are you going to convince them to spend any money?

“Invest in social culture before social technology” 

If you do convince them to spend money and you have the wrong culture, then the project will either not be as successful as it could be or more than likely fail.

Once you start to establish some credibility for social in your organisation then reach out to some social software companies to see how they can help you do things better. Most of these companies will be able to help you achieve much more with social but unless you get the foundations right then the technology will not be of much value to you.

Your turn

What has been your experience of investing in social technology? Have you been able to use it to change the culture of your business? Has it worked well or have you had challenges you have had to overcome? Has it delivered the results you was looking for? 


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