It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The tightening of IT purse strings that followed the dot-com collapse forced most companies’ finance and IT departments to collaborate as they never had before, a trend that gained further momentum when Sarbanes-Oxley came along. One result, many predicted, would be a more formal and confidence-inspiring assessment of the value of IT investments, as finance contributed the analytical acumen that IT lacked. But rigor appears to be turning to rigor mortis; companies seem less satisfied that IT investments are producing the expected returns, and a number seem to be abandoning formal approaches altogether. Nor does it look like Sarbanes-Oxley is having the unifying effect that last year’s survey found, as the percentage who say the act has brought the two functions together declined from almost half last year to just over a third this year.

Despite that, CFOs are in some ways surprisingly bullish on IT. More CFOs this year than last say they regard IT as strategic rather than as a utility, and spending plans are up this year compared with the same period last year. Our 2004 survey found that 16 percent of respondents said they planned to cut IT spending in the ensuing 12 months; this year that figure dropped to 10 percent, while those planning to increase IT budgets rose from 62 percent of respondents last year to 65 percent this year.

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