Information security has topped the list in a survey of chief finance officers' business concerns.
The annual survey by Computer Sciences, in association with the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), is the first time security has emerged as the number one concern. Last year the main concern was prioritising technology investments, this year's number two.
Only one in five CFOs are "highly satisfied" with their security programs, the survey reported, but they remain aware of how vulnerable they are. "They see the growing number of news articles about customer information being accessed or stolen and they wonder, 'If these guys can be breached, how secure are we?'" said Jerry Boltin, a senior partner at CSC's Consulting Group
Financial executives ranked facilitating analysis and decision-making (business intelligence) as the area most constrained by the lack of appropriate technology solutions.
The survey also found a much higher than expected level of planned investments in analytic and decision support information, particularly among large entities.
Several dozen respondents plan to spend $10 million or more in the next year to upgrade their analytical environments, with the largest planned expenditure reported as $200 million.
CFOs want better and more timely information to aid decision-making and monitor performance, improving their competitiveness and helping them meet the new reporting laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley.
The survey also found that overall IT spending is expected to increase modestly throughout the next year, and companies are planning a number of new outsourcing and in-sourcing (shared services) agreements.
About 90 respondents rated their outsourcing arrangement as successful. Outsourcing's consistently high overall ratings from business that use the service help continue the movement, said Boltin.