LAS VEGAS — While chief financial officers are often looked to as key decision makers, a recent survey shows they don’t have the technology needed to support their decision-making efforts.

While 81 per cent of senior executives say the CFO plays a role as a trusted advisor in their organizations,

only 25 per cent say the business intelligence technology supports the strategic demands placed on the CFO, according to a survey of nearly 300 CFOs and other senior executives.

The results of the survey, which was conducted in September, were released at SAS Institute Inc.’s BetterManagement Live Worldwide Business Conference late in October.

SAS announced the survey findings as it launched its SAS Financial Intelligence portfolio of software applications designed to help organizations perform predictive analysis.

The suite is part of the SAS 9 Intelligence platform. The software collects and consolidates financial data from across the enterprise so that it can be used to make better decisions about the company’s future, SAS said.

“”An end-to-end solution starts with being able to extract information,”” said Phil Strand, the global strategist and program director for SAS corporate governance and financial intelligence solutions.

Once information is extracted, validated and put into a metadata repository, “”it becomes the single version of the truth,”” he said during a panel discussion at the conference.

This is essential, given today’s climate of distrust in the wake of scandals such as Enron, said Lynn Brewer, a former Enron executive who blew the whistle on the company’s financial reporting misdeeds. Though Enron is clearly the poster child for corporate corruption, its misdeeds were just the beginning of a tsunami of such cases, said Brewer, who was also one of the panelists.

“”The driving factors that existed when Enron imploded exist today,”” she said.

Market pressures are forcing companies to show quick short-term gains, which drive some to falsify their financial records. It also means long-term goals are often sacrificed for short-term profits, she said.

Though people originally perceived the problem at Enron as an accounting issue, it actually went deeper, Brewer said. The problem was a lack of understanding of whether the Enron business model worked. Enron executives didn’t know if the business model was making money, or if it even could.

It’s important to look not just at the letter, but the spirit of the law when implementing the changes necessitated by Sarbanes-Oxley, a new set of financial regulatory requirements put into place post-Enron, said another panelist, Lee Ditmar, a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

At the heart of Sarbanes-Oxley is the need to improve the timeliness, reliability and transparency of information, he said. The best way to deal with compliance is to have good processes in place enabled by technology, he said.

One organization looking for a consolidated view of its data is CIBC’s mortgages and lending division, said Paul Flach, the Toronto-based director of management information services for operations and services. The division is currently in the process of implementing SAS 9.

“”We’re going to use it for building a single source of the truth,”” he said in an interview.

CIBC hopes to use the tool to do credit risk management and profit and loss reporting, he said. The company is in the process of tying in all of the data from its front-end applications into SAS 9.

As part of its efforts to transform and rationalize its cost modelling process, Canada Post is using SAS’s Activity-Based Management tool. It pulls financial data out of the organization’s SAP enterprise suite.

One of the benefits of this is that all the information is kept in one place, where it is accessible to everyone, said Ted Kwiatkowski, the Ottawa-based general manager of profitability management at Canada Post. Before implementing the SAS software, much of the information resided in employees’ heads. And when they left, they took their knowledge with them, he said. LAS VEGAS — While chief financial officers are often looked to as key decision makers, a recent survey shows they don’t have the technology needed to support their decision-making efforts.

While 81 per cent of senior executives say the CFO plays a role as a trusted advisor in their organizations, only 25 per cent say the business intelligence technology supports the strategic demands placed on the CFO, according to a survey of nearly 300 CFOs and other senior executives.

The results of the survey, which was conducted in September, were released at SAS Institute Inc.’s BetterManagement Live Worldwide Business Conference late in October.

SAS announced the survey findings as it launched its SAS Financial Intelligence portfolio of software applications designed to help organizations perform predictive analysis.

The suite is part of the SAS 9 Intelligence platform. The software collects and consolidates financial data from across the enterprise so that it can be used to make better decisions about the company’s future, SAS said.

“”An end-to-end solution starts with being able to extract information,”” said Phil Strand, the global strategist and program director for SAS corporate governance and financial intelligence solutions.

Once information is extracted, validated and put into a metadata repository, “”it becomes the single version of the truth,”” he said during a panel discussion at the conference.

This is essential, given today’s climate of distrust in the wake of scandals such as Enron, said Lynn Brewer, a former Enron executive who blew the whistle on the company’s financial reporting misdeeds. Though Enron is clearly the poster child for corporate corruption, its misdeeds were just the beginning of a tsunami of such cases, said Brewer, who was also one of the panelists.

“”The driving factors that existed when Enron imploded exist today,”” she said.

Market pressures are forcing companies to show quick short-term gains, which drive some to falsify their financial records. It also means long-term goals are often sacrificed for short-term profits, she said.

Though people originally perceived the problem at Enron as an accounting issue, it actually went deeper, Brewer said. The problem was a lack of understanding of whether the Enron business model worked. Enron executives didn’t know if the business model was making money, or if it even could.

It’s important to look not just at the letter, but the spirit of the law when implementing the changes necessitated by Sarbanes-Oxley, a new set of financial regulatory requirements put into place post-Enron, said another panelist, Lee Ditmar, a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

At the heart of Sarbanes-Oxley is the need to improve the timeliness, reliability and transparency of information, he said. The best way to deal with compliance is to have good processes in place enabled by technology, he said.

One organization looking for a consolidated view of its data is CIBC’s mortgages and lending division, said Paul Flach, the Toronto-based director of management information services for operations and services. The division is currently in the process of implementing SAS 9.

“”We’re going to use it for building a single source of the truth,”” he said in an interview.

CIBC hopes to use the tool to do credit risk management and profit and loss reporting, he said. The company is in the process of tying in all of the data from its front-end applications into SAS 9.

As part of its efforts to transform and rationalize its cost modelling process, Canada Post is using SAS’s Activity-Based Management tool. It pulls financial data out of the organization’s SAP enterprise suite.

One of the benefits of this is that all the information is kept in one place, where it is accessible to everyone, said Ted Kwiatkowski, the Ottawa-based general manager of profitability management at Canada Post. Before implementing the SAS software, much of the information resided in employees’ heads. And when they left, they took their knowledge with them, he said.

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