Data security continues to be a concern for CFOs around the world. Studies in the past year continue to highlight the discomfort many CFOs are feeling about data security, data ownership, and the use of cloud technology.

A study by Ernst and Young (EY) found that 56% of CFOs are concerned with managing data security and privacy in corporate reporting, with CFOs in India (68%), China (65%) and the US (63%) expressing the most concern.

They are right to be concerned. A survey undertaken by Adaptive found that over the next five years global CFOs expect a data volume increase of 25%-50%.

The EY survey also found that 49% of global respondents say concerns over security and compliance risks of the cloud are seen as a major barrier to technology transformation and the implementation of innovative new technologies. Forty-one percentage of global respondents also shared that lack of collaboration between finance and IT were major barriers to implementing new technologies.

A survey by Intel Security (now McAfee) of IT professionals earlier in 2017 found a more bullish outlook for Cloud services. “Cloud services are now a regular component of IT operations, and are utilized by more than 90% of organizations around the world,” said the report. “Many are working under a Cloud First philosophy, only choosing to deploy an internal service if there is no suitable cloud variant available. As a result, IT architectures are rapidly shifting to a hybrid private/public cloud model, with those surveyed expecting 80% of their IT budget to be cloud-based within an average of 15 months.”

Trust and perception of public cloud services continued to improve among IT professionals with those who trust public clouds outnumbering those who distrust them by a 2 to 1 margin. The number of organizations using private cloud dropped from 51% to 24% over 12 months, while hybrid cloud use increased from 19% to 57%.

The survey found that an ongoing shortage of security skills is continuing to affect cloud deployments. Almost half (49%) of the professionals surveyed stated that they had slowed their cloud adoption due to a lack of cybersecurity skills, with the worst shortages in Japan, Mexico, and the Gulf Coast countries.

Improved trust and perception, as well as increased understanding of the risks by senior management, is encouraging more organizations to store sensitive data in the public cloud, according to the report. However, personal customer information is the most likely type of data to be stored in public clouds, kept there by 62% of those surveyed. Perhaps a sign of the concern CFOs have about the security of their own companies’ data in the cloud.

In the meantime, the EY survey found that the oversight role of audit committees is also significantly changing. Corporate boards and their audit committees are putting a much stronger focus on corporate culture and its impact on compliance and fraud prevention according to 82% of the CFOs surveyed.

The survey found that 56% of global respondents said that audit committee members need to adapt procedures to audit data consolidated from different platforms, such as cloud data warehouses.

That goes back to Adaptive’s finding that almost four in 10 CFOs (39%) said the number of data sources (39%) they have to manage presents a challenge for CFOs in attaining a “single source of truth” in the cloud. As more data becomes available, CFOs will need to come to address the need to effectively gather data from multiple sources and consolidating and validating that data into a single data set that provides a single source of truth.

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