We read with great interest a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal with George F. Colony, chairman and chief executive of Forrester Research Inc., about the challenges facing companies, particularly their CIO’s, as they respond to the shifting demands made by the marketplace. This phenomenon, described as the “Age of the Customer,” in which people are “able to critique products precisely and publicly,” is placing enormous strains on technology leaders sometimes saddled with millions of dollars in legacy information technology (IT) investments and infrastructure which limits their agility and ability to respond quickly to change.

What ideas does Colony provide for addressing this issue?  “If you look at tech spending in the U.S., it’s about $1.1 trillion in the year 2015,” Colony says. “Of that number, about $780 billion is IT and about $250 billion is going to be BT (business technology). So it’s about a 75-25 split.

“CIOs should very knowingly look at their companies’ portfolios and say, ‘OK, how much of my portfolio is IT,’ to run the internals of your company, ‘and how much is BT,’ the technology, systems and processes to win, serve and retain customers.”

The challenge for CIO’s is to quickly figure out how to shift the current spending balance to provide more BT investment. 

We have been fortunate to work with several companies aggressively pursuing answers to this dilemma.  One area they have found to be a prime candidate for change is financial operations management. You probably can’t find a more internally focused function than receiving, reviewing, approving, coding, and paying invoices! The widespread availability of inexpensive, flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) accounts payable automation solutions provides a great opportunity for organizations to shift their IT spending to more BT opportunities by greatly diminishing the investment in internal IT resources needed for improving and automating these internal business processes and applications. Finanical operations processes are prime candidates for flexible SaaS applications that can integrate with your ERP and create business value while freeing your internal IT staff to focus on more opportunistic BT projects.

It’s clear from the statistics Colony cites that the challenges facing many organizations in accomplishing this shift in investment require the CIO to leverage new types of solutions as part of their overall strategy. SaaS solutions targeting core support operations are great candidates for a new way of thinking and investing.

To learn more about how organizations are using SaaS to drive improved performance while freeing scarce IT resources to focus on more customer-centric projects, contact us at  

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