Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Digital Board’s IT Inquiries

The board’s oversight of information management agenda helps to highlight the strategic perspective of IT and improve its differentiated value.

The digital world is so information-intensive and technology driven. Organizations rely more and more on information & technology. IT becomes so critical to the success of the organization nowadays. Many times, it is a determining success factor for your business strategy to achieve fast growth and long-term sustainability. Further, IT is not a function that can be handled only inside the IT department or by IT managers only, it takes brainstorming and empowerment from the boardroom to
the collective effort and collaboration cross-functionally to run a highly effective and high-performance digital IT and improve overall IT manageability and maturity. Here is a set of IT inquiries in the boardroom.

How tech-savvy are corporate boards these days? Information is growing exponentially and technology needs will only expand. IT investment of the organization can either lift or break a business easily nowadays. IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy, IT becomes a decisive factor for the business’s long-term prosperity. Hence, the board today needs to become more IT-friendly and technology savvy. In many traditional organizations, while directors bring enriched experiences and many competencies to the table, most do not have access to information about innovation and its potential related to the businesses they oversee. That could cause fatal blind spots to cloud strategy execution. Companies should establish on-going avenues to information which will regularly feed BoDs understanding about trends and potential innovation for their businesses. The board should also frequently brainstorm IT impact on the business, and leverage technological vision to the business’s strategic planning. A tech-savvy board will have the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, trustworthiness, prepare, and launch change, innovation, and ensure what happens next. IT-friendly boards are more innovative because innovation is increasingly technology dependent, technology is evaluated in concert with customers, channels, products, and markets, serving as a catalyst to drive strategic innovation. So the board oversight of information-driven innovation agenda will directly impact business growth and organizational competency for the long run. How tech-savvy the board is will also decide how the business perceives IT, as an equal business partner or just a support function. When IT leaders are invited to the big table, and information agenda has been review thoroughly, organizations take a big leap at the journey of digital transformation.

How best to evaluate the Board's performance in utilizing IT to achieve the business purpose?
The modern boards play a critical role in overseeing the business strategy in which IT is a crucial component. So it is important to have both board and the top executive team understands that technology is not a separate entity which exists just to keep the lights on, and it’s the linchpin to build the digital competency. From IT investment perspective, there are three choices organizations make: Ignore new technology, jump on the bandwagon even if you don't know what you are doing, and embrace the new technology finding ways to create strategic value. It is a no-brainer to select the third option as the right choice, but only IT-savvy boards can truly figure out the link of the company growth in relation to their technology investments. How deep they can dig and which questions shall they ask will directly impact on the success rate of IT investment and the boardroom governance effectiveness. That is not the act of rubber stamping!  In the end, it’s not about how much IT costs, it’s about how much IT is contributing to both bottom line efficiency or top line business growth either by increased sales or increased agility in adapting the changing business processes. Digital BoDs are the directorial role, it’s crucial to appreciate the value of alternative perspectives and insights which say nothing of not trusting - simply looking from a different stance, and asking the different question, and improve the boardroom effectiveness.

How Important an Information System can be in digital business success? Though the importance of information and technology is well known as all forward-looking organizations across the vertical sectors claim they are in the information management businesses. However, considering many businesses spend money on sophisticated technology tools that are greatly wasted because the appropriate processes to leverage those tools are not well designed, implemented, or adopted, therefore, the board’s IT investment review and strategy oversight helps to fill the blind spots and bring a new perspective on improving information system effectiveness and efficiency. Generally speaking, information management is all about collecting, processing, refining information, and capturing insight to ensure the right people getting the right information to make the right business decisions timely. Information brings about business ideas; business ideas generate lots of information. Information Systems are the backbone and provide valuable information for key decision making. The board’s oversight helps to build an information-based decision-making culture, and ensure the value of IT is qualitative, measurable and defined uniquely by an organization and become its core competency. The information-based business foresight and customer insight can bring emergent business growth opportunity, prevent risks, lead innovative solutions that meet customers’ needs while reducing the cost to market and achieve unique value for the business’s long-term success.

Digital is the age of information abundance and innovation blossom. The IT management effectiveness needs to be driven like seamless collaboration, collective advantage, amplified influence, and multi-layer ROIs. And surely the board’s oversight of information management agenda helps to highlight the strategic perspective of IT and improve its differentiated value. The wheel of IT in the dynamic digital business environment should keep spinning to enable high-than-expected business achievement and accelerate digital transformation.


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