Saturday, October 15, 2016

IT Savvy Board’s Five Oversight

Contemporary corporate boards today are IT savvy and digital ready for moving their organizations to the next level of the business agility and maturity.

The corporate board in a high-level leadership position plays a crucial role in strategy oversight, business advising, and monitoring, as well as setting key digital tones in organizational culture styles, talent management trend, and leadership quintessential. Nowadays, information is overwhelming and becomes one of the most invaluable assets of the business, technology is often the disruptive forces behind digital innovations. Forward-looking companies across the industries declare they are in the information management business. Therefore, Digital Board today need to become IT friendly and technology savvy, with a comprehensive IT oversight on how to run a highly intelligent and high mature digital business?

The oversight of digital strategy with IT as an integral component: Often in traditional organizations, IT is not part of the business strategy at all, IT only supports strategy. It is a board responsibility to ensure that the strategy covers all important parts including IT, to question it and to finally decide on it. They should view the technology discipline as a strategic function in the organization in the same way that finances, M&A or marketing strategies would be viewed. By understanding the importance of digital knowledge flow and emergent digital technology trends, the board can ensure that IT as a part of the strategy work which needs to be understood and brainstormed more often in the boardroom. Many informative boards invite CIOs as BoDs for bridging gaps and harnessing communications because the information power and technology advantage directly differentiate digital leaders from laggards nowadays. CIOs can help boards understand the business drivers, pain points and offer technology or process related solutions to aid productivity and gain a competitive edge. It must be understood that information and information technology are at the current time the focus of immense market development and pressure and key aspects of organizational development and performance throughout the business cycle.

IT budget oversight: Business understanding is a prerequisite for being a board member in the first place, finance & budgeting oversight is one of the critical responsibilities of boards, so to add to that you need different members to have important experience/competence in many other areas. IT is one of them, as IT can be a success factor and a business boost or worst case, run you out of business due to not being able to cope with regulations or taking decisions on huge projects with an unclear scope, timeline, and budget. The CIO in the boardroom needs to keep communicating what they are doing to make operations more efficient, outside consultants, benchmarks, etc. The resources and IT budget can be bucketed under the run, grow, transform category at the broad organization level informally. This will help the organization keep a tab on the type of expenditure and ensure that a significant portion of the resource is used to create new capabilities which help a business transform. Everyday functional executives are battling their corner for resources, funds, and sometimes recognition, therefore, a well-balanced company board usually means that decisions are taken somewhat more impartially to ensure the business as a whole running in an optimal way.

IT Project/Portfolio Review: With continuous digital disruptions, IT does become more crucial than ever to the business’s surviving and thriving. IT becomes a frequent topic in the boardroom, beginning with the CIO's sum up of IT project/portfolio status, and articulate significant details the boards are supposed to know. And BoDs can help CIOs identify some IT pain points such as (Delayed Projects, Cost Overrun, No Innovation, No business involvement, Rogue IT). Every organization will have some quandaries with IT and each organization is different. IT performance now directly impacts the overall business performance, a healthy IT project portfolio can unleash the full potential of the business to achieve the best business outcome in the future. The CIO's willingness to do anything to improve IT performance and deliver the multidimensional IT value is not for impressing the board, but to keep the board informed on how to take advantage of the opportunities IT could bring and run IT as the business. Modern IT management is not just the business of IT organizations, but takes a cross-functional collaboration, from the boardroom to front desk, in order to keep information flow and therefore, business dynamic.

Digital Workforce Management: Good directorship is about creating the greatest value to motivate top leadership and talent development. Talent gaps are not fictions, but reality, especially IT skills gaps. The board can set the updated policies and influence the culture tone for getting the right people to the right positions with the right capabilities to solve the right problems. The visionary board will advocate future-driven performance management, to advise talent managers moving away from only “evaluating” the past, and to improving success in the future, so the staff can better contribute to organizational goals in the long run. Forward-thinking boards would also be open-minded to provide input and support on leveraging technology trends in building a strong business brand, to attract the best talent through alternative digital channels and drive the business transformation seamlessly.

IT GRC oversight: BoDs do not manage risks but oversee risk. IT GRC is an integral part of the business GRC. The board must be comfortable that management is identifying and appropriately responding to risk, and that the board itself is apprised of the most significant risks facing the company. To reach this comfort level, effective boards ensure that management has put in place an effective risk-management process, and the directors assess whether risks are undertaken and managed consistently with the established risk appetite. IT oversees enterprise-wide information which is the lifeblood in modern businesses. As such, IT plays a significant role in overall business governance, relevant topics are important enough to warrant explicit board attention within the overall framework of resources and governance in general. With strong IT governance discipline and full support from the board, IT organizations can be transformed from a cost center to value creator, and the board can become more IT-friendly and informative.

IT-friendly board has to ensure management and governance are the interdependent and complementary discipline that are both enabled by high mature digital IT, with a comprehensive oversight about building strategic IT to gain the differentiated business competency. A technology savvy Board will welcome IT leaders, to share insight at the big table, and empower IT to drive change and digital transformation. These are digital ready boards for moving their organizations to the next level of the business agility and maturity.


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