• Crystal Bedell

2019 Tech Priorities: The CFO vs. the IT leader



Most IT surveys focus on the perceptions of IT leaders—the people closest to their company’s technology needs and projects—so, I was intrigued by a recent survey of CFOs at technology companies. The results highlight a discrepancy between how CFOs view 2019 tech priorities and how IT leaders view them.

BDO USA, an assurance, tax, and financial advisory services firm, commissioned the survey of CFOs, which was conducted by Market Measurement, Inc.


Top factors driving tech industry growth


As tech CFOs see it, the top factors driving U.S. technology industry growth in 2019 are:

  • Cybersecurity concerns and U.S. economic growth, each 25%

  • Consumer demand, 23%

  • Pressure to undergo digital transformation, 18%

It’s interesting to see digital transformation at only 18%, as it consistently comes up as the top priority in surveys of IT leaders. According to the Gartner 2018 CIO Agenda Industry Insights report, all industries rank digital business as one of their top 10 business objectives. Eleven out of the 15 industries participating in the survey ranked digital business/digital transformation among the top three business priorities for 2018. The focus in 2019 hasn’t changed that significantly.


Top cybersecurity concern


CFOs’ chief cybersecurity concern is data privacy, with 87% expressing a high or moderate concern about the issue. However, 53% of tech CFOs are very confident about their organization’s ability to detect a data breach.


There’s a disconnect between the CFO’s perspective on the organization’s ability to detect a breach and how others perceive it. A study by Capgemini found that only 21% of financial services institutions are "highly confident" in their ability to detect a data breach.


According to research commissioned by LogRhythm, less than half of all organizations are able to detect a major cybersecurity incident within one hour. Unfortunately, the BDO report doesn’t indicate how quickly a breach is detected—which we know is critical when it comes to minimizing losses related to a data breach. Still, over 60% of the IT executives surveyed are only somewhat confident that their security software can detect all major breaches, and they are only moderately confident that they can protect their companies from hackers.


Other notable findings


According to CFOs, tech companies’ top business priority for 2019:

  • Scaling the business, 37%

  • Product or service innovation, 34%

  • Data privacy, 16%

  • Digital transformation, 10%

The technologies that CFOs anticipate will cause the greatest industry disruption in 2019:

  • Artificial intelligence, 35%

  • Cloud computing, 26%

  • Blockchain, IoT, 12%

  • Data analytics, 10%

To achieve growth objectives, 34% of tech companies are looking to recruit and retain critical talent.


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