“But the approval process also requires buy-in from the executive team and the board for it to be successful,” he added.
“There’s never a sole decision maker. If there was, it would create a level of risk around the right decision being made. The actual go or no-go decision doesn’t come down to the CFO anymore, it’s more of a consensus decision.”
Changing the conversation
In light of the role of the CFO becoming stronger from a technology buying perspective, Taylor insisted conversations with solution providers must become stronger as a result.
“The role of the CFO has evolved to becoming more commercial rather than just compliance based,” Taylor explained. “Those two requirements are merging.”
With efficiency a key requirement for finance, Taylor said LifeHealthcare priorities focus on achieving operational efficiency, transactional efficiency and automation, resulting in the simplification of processes.
The end result for Taylor, is a conversation that is more commercially focused than before.
“IT tends to get lost within the technology,” he added. “It’s now less about the technology, but they need to learn how that technology can assist the business to operate more efficiently.
“Technology, unfortunately, is one of those things that you can’t see the direct benefit of — it tends to be more indirect.”
Through the eyes of the channel, Barlow explained the importance of partners understanding the internal buying methodology of any organisation they are selling IT services into.
“Do they prefer to purchase outright?” he asked. “Do they pay annually? Are they cash flow positive? Are they looking to change their business model?
“It depends on the state of the business you’re selling into as to whether they want their assets on sheet or off sheet, whether they want to go to an OPEX type of payment model, or whether they are cash positive and they want to continue those investments.”
In working across industries such as government, retail, healthcare, financial services, hospitality and manufacturing, Barlow said Brennan IT has responded to the changing face of the buyer through better enabling its sales team.
“We need to be able to talk on a financial level, in terms of having a balance sheet conversation,” he added. “We also need to articulate clearly the business outcomes rather than just a commodotised price.”
In addition, Barlow also addressed the need for the “one throat to choke” conversation, with CFOs still aware of brand reputation and a single point of contact for an end-to-end solution.
“They just need to know that they get the right escalation response when needed and they’ve got the right contract matrix for one throat to choke,” he added.
“Our jobs are much more complex these days because it’s that end- to-end stakeholder management that’s important, with the CFO being a significant stakeholder across that decision making process. It’s become less about the finance and more about the business outcome.”
In moving away from the human calculator type view that previously dominated channel opinion of CFOs, the finance department is now showing its worth from a technology perspective also.
Because across Australia, the role of the CFO is shifting.
Following decades of traditional cost management responsibilities, local businesses are now calling upon finance to step beyond spreadsheets and numbers, to help the organisation identify new opportunities to drive growth in the future.
Specifically, Barlow said Brennan IT are engaged with CFOs around the adoption of cloud, unified communications (UC) and ways to maximise collaboration tools.
“They’re very happy with a hybrid cloud approach,” he said. “It’s a slightly different approach to enterprise and mid-market, where we’re seeing a great adoption of cloud and UC collaboration.
“But we’re still seeing strong adoption of services such as Skype for Business into a single platform, collaboration, and video conferencing - that has been a great take-up for us.”
As cloud technology adoption continues to grow in Australia, and investments increase alongside, Taylor mirrored Barlow’s observations, acknowledging the value of moving business process to the skies.
“Cloud-based technologies are the game changer for the next five to 10 years,” Taylor added. “Certainly, moving towards a cloud-based environment makes a lot of sense — you’re avoiding the capital investment in hardware and communications infrastructure.
“Cloud has transformed the way in which IT companies think about how they deliver the solution and the application to the desktop. It’s a more efficient process.”
Alongside cloud, Taylor also recognised the importance of mobility in supporting the emerging technologies infiltrating the business.
“It’s about how that delivery is expanded to applications on mobile devices,” he explained.
But in a direct word of warning to the channel, Taylor emphasised the difference between strategically investing in technology, compared to being seduced by common industry buzzwords.
“It’s dangerous to follow trends, that’s what IT companies want you to do,” he cautioned. “The key is to pick technologies that help with your business outcomes.”