Chief financial officers (CFOs) need to make decisions quicker while reducing costs.

These are the main findings from a global study of CIOs by IBM, where nearly three-quarters of midmarket CFOs worldwide cite the need for faster decision-making and pressure to reduce costs as their top challenges.
The study explains that these CFOs believe that external pressures (economic, industry, regulatory) will increase over the next three years. As a result, more than half of these mid-size finance organisations believe they have to make major changes to respond.
More frequently, CFOs of mid-size businesses are being called into top level discussions around demand and price pressures, business model changes, information strategy and resource allocation.
Additionally, more than 75% say they have an advisory or decision making role on the entire company agenda, as opposed to having no role or being an informer.
Despite their CFOs' elevated decision-making role, the vast majority of those surveyed pointed to a significant gap between the importance of key CFO agenda items and their effectiveness in execution. The largest gaps were found in driving integration of information (32%), talent development (28%), advising on corporate strategy (27%), and managing and mitigating company risk (24%).
"Midmarket CFOs and their finance organisations are taking a much more prominent role in corporate decision making," says Marc Dupaquier, GM: midmarket at IBM. "This makes it all the more important for these CFOs to be able to provide insights into their companies' financial data and suggest strategies that will help advance their companies' agendas."
While the findings indicate that CFOs are increasingly playing a significant role in strategic and operational matters to help the business make better decisions faster, midmarket CFOs still cite challenges:
* Over 40% of companies produce financial metrics manually;
* Finance spends over 50% of time on transactional activities;
* 50% lack a common planning platform; 36% lack a common reporting platform;
* Nearly 60% not satisfied with their operational planning and forecasting analytical capability; and
* 47% are poor to average at anticipating external forces.