Sunday, August 28, 2016

“Digitizing Boardroom” Book Chapter 5: An IT Friendly Board

An IT-friendly Board is digital fluent and presents the spirit of collaboration.

According to the variety of corporate board surveys, directors reported gaps in critical areas of board expertise: There were skill sets or areas of expertise missing or talent with cognitive difference insufficiently represented on their boards. Technology expertise was the most common missing or underrepresented ingredient on boards. Nowadays information is the lifeblood of the business, and technology is the disruptive force behind changes. Hence, it is strategic imperative to build an IT-friendly and technology-savvy Board to understand the power of information and potential of technology, and CIOs as BoDs should play a crucial role in envisioning, advocating, and communicating IT effectively.

An IT-friendly Board is digital fluent and presents the spirit of collaboration: Digital leaders including BoDs today show their understanding and interest in technology, never underestimate the power of knowledge. They need to become digital fluent as well. The CIO’s role is to understand his or her audience and target appropriately. It is not enough for the CIO to provide technical solutions or worry about uptimes. The board needs CIOs to envision overarching digital transformation, and CIOs can bring value and direction to the board, be able to challenge and reinforce the overall company’s direction and ensure the business running in agility. The opportunity for CIOs to influence strategic decisions is to identify where IT can influence (products, customers, information, etc.) and discuss strategy in the language of the business (competitive landscape, revenue, cost saving, and improved efficiency). So they can become IT advocate in the boardroom and strategic partners of the business.

On IT vs. in IT: Boards should be informed on what benefit is being delivered by IT and aware of constraints and risks. The board is neither the programmer nor the implementer, but they should gain strategic insight into IT. The boardroom IT discussions may not be only centered around cost, but also on productivity improvement, business growth, talent strategy, and GRC. It’s important to have “mainstream” media conveying the updated IT information and insight, to inform CXOs and BoDs about the benefits of strategic CIOs and value-added IT. Just like any other investment, if you can present the IT portfolio in a manner similar to other business investment portfolios, it makes conceptual sense to boards with ROIs, schedules, and risks. Because Boards have responsibilities for failed IT projects (under their duty of responsibility), making IT a profit center is one of the biggest challenges in boardrooms and most organizations today.

“WHERE, WHEN, and WHAT” would you expect IT to enter the Board conversation: With the accelerating speed of changing, IT should proactively participate in big conversations through the right touch point and at the right time. IT needs to enter the board conversation at several points:

-Business strategy: IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy, and IT is also a key enabler of future capability and a critical aspect of continuing business activity in organizations.

-Risk Management: Because market experience is of the unacceptably high risk of negative outcomes for IT-enabled changes. IT is prominent in market disruptions which can result in major opportunity and risks.

-IT Oversight: IT projects frequently fail to deliver intended and appropriate business outcomes and IT failures frequently cause a significant negative business impact.

Digital transformation represents a break with the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. Given how applying IT is becoming so intrinsically important to so many different enterprises, An IT-friendly board has to ensure management and governance are interdependent and complementary discipline that are both enabled by high mature digital IT, and a technology savvy Board will welcome IT leaders to share insight at the big table, and empower IT to drive change and digital transformation.


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