With technology playing a more central role in business planning and execution, thanks to trends such as cloud computing and mobile workforces, the role of the chief information officer (CIO) has been evolving into that of a business enabler from being in charge of a cost centre in a company.
However, when it comes to control of the purse strings, the chief financial officer (CFO) still calls the shots for IT projects which could have a major bearing on business performance.
A survey by recruitment firm Robert Half shows that in half of Singapore companies, it is the CFO or finance director who is the main or primary decision maker on information technology issues, not the chief technology officer (CTO) or CIO. This is the highest percentage of any of the 14 countries surveyed, and well above the global average of 40 per cent.
The survey asked 2,075 CFOs and finance directors in 14 countries about the role they play in technology decisions in a company. There were 150 respondents from Singapore.
It also found that while finance leaders clearly have significant power over IT decisions, Singapore's finance and IT teams are among the most collaborative of any country in the world.
Some 83 per cent of respondents cited an increase in collaboration between the IT and finance teams over the past three years, compared with the 61 per cent global average, the survey showed.
When asked about the benefits of closer collaboration between finance and IT, the respondents cited improved efficiency (67 per cent), increased profitability (48 per cent) and lower business costs (23 per cent).
Stella Tang, director of Robert Half in Singapore, said many companies still see IT as a cost to business, so they assign responsibility for decisions to the finance team.
"Singapore companies appear to have developed their own approach to making IT decisions. Finance has a much greater responsibility for IT decisions, based on a more collaborative approach between the finance and IT teams.
"What is clear from the survey is that finance professionals in Singapore need to keep up to date with trends in technology. The finance leaders of tomorrow need to get a lot more involved in the IT aspects of their company's business if they are to effectively use their decision-making power," Ms Tang said.