Monday, May 22, 2017

The Digital Board’s IT Inquiries

The digital board’s IT inquiries help to clarify the strategic role of IT in maximizing business potential.

As technologies permeate into every corner of the organization and information provides invaluable foresight to enable business growth, IT is no longer just as an isolated function or back office utility only. Nowadays, IT has to add more business value and delight both internal and end customers, and improve both the top line business growth and bottom line efficiency. Here are a set of digital board's IT inquiries.

How can boards oversee the IT strategy which is an integral component of the business strategy:   Due to the increasing speed of changes and fierce business competitions, many IT organizations are at a cross road to either being transformed into a value-added digital engine for their business growth or being irrelevant as a cost center only. Digital leaders including BoDs today need to show their understanding and interest in technology, never underestimate the power of knowledge. They should gain the strategic insight about IT. They need to become digital fluent as well. Boards should be informed on what benefit is being delivered by IT and aware of constraints and risks. There is no stand-alone IT strategy. There is the only business strategy with IT as a key element. IT is also a key enabler of future organizational capability and a critical aspect of continuing business activity in organizations. IT is business and IT strategy in an integral part of business strategy. Meaningful exchanges and engagement will deliver competitive advantage. So the board has to oversee the business strategy with IT strategy as a sub-component. They have to ensure management and governance are the interdependent and complementary disciplines which are both enabled by high mature digital IT, to build the long-term business advantage.

How can boards help to strengthen the weakest link of the business - either it’s about people or IT, etc? Due to the exponential growth of information and significant opportunities and risk brought by digital technologies. IT becomes a frequent hot topic in the boardroom. The board also spend significant time on brainstorming the technology-enabled business solutions and diagnose the root cause when the business cannot speed up as it should be. Leadership including directorship is crucial to strengthen the business links and weave them to the differentiated business capabilities which enable the digital transformation. The worst thing to do is just put the policy in place to mandate it. At the dawn of the digital era, these are the days of business users becoming more tech savvy. Without collaborative communication, business goes around IT for new technology. This is always a sign that something is not going right, and business reliability gets compromised. Thus, the IT-friendly board should gain an in-depth understanding of IT, set the right digital principles, leverage technological visions, and pull all necessary resources for strengthening the weakest links, bridge the gaps between IT and business, and improve the overall organizational maturity.

Can the board help IT set up the right priority: Information is the lifeblood, and technology is often the game changer. Many organizations make a significant investment in IT. Because more often IT can either make a leap of the business to the next level of growth cycle or fail the business even overnight. BoDs need to gain the insight on the potential of technology but also the liabilities, to play an important role in making effective decisions on IT investment assessment, IT portfolio prioritization, GRC concerns. When BoDs shift from a 'risk-avoidance' to a 'risk management' & risk intelligence mentality, they weigh in risk, and reward, take prudent risks and find ways to mitigate risk rather than eliminate it and embrace business growth opportunities proactively.

The digital board’s IT inquiries help to clarify the strategic role of IT in maximizing business potential. BoDs can also capture the oversight of the IT plan which is the series of steps required involving technology that enable the business strategy, empower IT leaders to become strategic business advisors, as well as monitor the IT catalyzed business performance closely.


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