What is the Difference Between a CFO vs. CIO?


August 2023


“My business win is my work with my client’s newly hired fractional CIO. I finally feel that between that and the Scale Up strategy work we are doing that we have the support to get things done there.”

We heard this in a team meeting the other day, and it touched on a few trends we’ve had live events

  • The role of the CFO and how it’s evolving, including their role with data and technology.

  • The rise of Fractional leadership in the growth of small and medium businesses.

Let’s dive into the CIO role, and how we can work effectively together as CFOs or take on the responsibilities.

Chief Information Officers and Chief Financial Officers are critical to executive teams, and so is their relationship.

Making intelligent technology investments is one decision these two positions take on.

Data and technology have an increasing role in driving business growth and efficiency, which impacts the days and decisions of the CFO more than ever.

CFOs and CIOs must collaborate as strategic partners to align technology investments with business goals and objectives. This collaboration ensures that technology decisions are made with a clear understanding of financial implications and potential returns.

At Amplify, we always say that challenges must tie to the strategy and be presented and addressed through that lens. If you can’t anchor a challenge, including material investments, to the business’s vision and goals, it’s questionable.

Are you ready to make the decision? Is it the right direction?

Here’s some irony. CFOs and CIOs should leverage data analytics to make informed decisions about technology investments. However, in small and medium businesses, it’s often missing data and driving the need for the technology. Once financial and operational data is available and analyzed, they can identify areas where technology can drive efficiency, cost savings, and revenue growth.

There’s room for financial expertise when assessing the risk and the return on investment of a technology investment. CFOs can collaborate and consider the costs and opportunities financially.

Ongoing discussions about budgeting, financial forecasting, and monitoring the financial performance of technology initiatives support continuous improvement.

How can you be a better CFO by having a stronger relationship with the CIO:

  • Collaboration and communication are essential. Effective collaboration and communication between the CFO and CIO are integral to leveraging data and technology for strategic decision-making. This includes aligning technology investments with business objectives and ensuring that data and technology initiatives are integrated into the organizational strategy.

  • The CFO and CIO should collaborate to identify and prioritize data analytics initiatives to drive business performance and improve operational efficiency. They need to champion the importance of using data analytics to gain valuable insights for decision-making.

  • Technology is an enabler. In our latest LETs video podcast, we discuss the need to be prepared to meet your goals.

The CFO should view technology as an enabler of business transformation and growth. By partnering with the CIO, the CFO can help identify and implement technology solutions that support the organization’s strategic goals and drive innovation.

Help each other! The CFO is increasingly expected to have a strong understanding of technology and data, while the CIO needs a broader business perspective. Lean on each other to fill your gaps and have a peer coach available to get stronger.

And if you are a CFO, that’s Chief Back Office, including Tech, then acknowledge what your CIO hat means. Get help where you need it. There are Fractional CIOs or advisors or consultants, or even managed services that can make a difference.

It’s an exciting time to be in business. Things move fast, and the more we lean in and automate, the more interesting things we get to focus on. No better time to be a CIO or CFO!

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Wiessinger, G. (2023). CFOs Want to Partner with CIOs to Make Smart Tech Investments. Information

Penkoski, R. (2023). Data-Driven: The new CFO/CIO dynamic. Deloitte.