Do Company Boards Care About Tech?

Ann All

A perenially popular -- and evidently unanswerable -- question regarding IT and business alignment is how big a role a company's board of directors should play in its technology strategy.


Like the "to whom does the CIO report" question, it's often interpreted as a barometer of the importance of tech at a given company.


Based on the results of a survey featured in this Datamation article, technology doesn't appear to be a major concern for most boards.


Just 19 percent of respondents said their boards were "routinely" informed of technology developments. Thirty-seven percent of companies told boards about major tech projects, while 29 percent of companies only kept boards in the loop for "special" projects.


Technology committees or subcommittees and board members with tech experience are also a rarity in the boardroom, according to the survey.


And, in a variant of the "to whom does the CIO report to" question, just 20 percent of companies regularly ask their CIOs to sit in on board meetings.


Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Mercury Interactive Corp. CIO Cecilia Claudio calls her board members "key business partners" and says that their sponsorship of tech projects is a key way to ensure business buy-in.

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Oct 16, 2006 9:10 AM Sanjay Dalal Sanjay Dalal  says:
In <a href=http://creativityandinnovation.blogspot.com/2006/10/can-leadership-create-innovation.html>Can Leadership create Innovation?</a> the role of technology is paramount to Executives and Boards of major corporations.  For instance, Retired partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, Connie K. Duckworth talked about the important role of technology driving innovation. "The advent of desktop information technology transformed the financial services industry on Wall Street in the 1980s and 1990s," she noted. Duckworth observed that "new computer technology allowed companies to analyze the role of risk and to track risk in financial services, which changed the dynamics of the business."Also, in another article on <a href=http://creativityandinnovation.blogspot.com/2006/10/co-creation-driving-innovation.html>Co-Creation driving Innovation</a>, Gschwandtner summarizes: "Information (online) technology has empowered consumers to share ideas, documents, images, and movies across the forever- expanding digital world. The Internet allows businesses to engage customers in a creative workshop experience."Mainstream businesses such as Doritos, Starwood Hotels and Timex are embracing technology to co-create with their customers.I believe Boards and Executive Committees do view technology as fundamentally changing the way companies do  business with their customers.  It is perhaps important for the CIO to update the Board and the CEO on the role of technology and innovation and its alignment to topline benefits. Reply
Dec 6, 2006 5:01 PM Michael Atkins Michael Atkins  says:
As the founder of Visual Board Books, an automated method of displaying corporate board books online for directors, we surveyed 5000 executives and directors in 2004. We found that 1/3 of the directors wanted to use technology for board communications, 1/3 was 50/50 and 1/3 did not want to use a computer. From a smaller survey a year later, we found that the numbers had grown to 60/40 in favor of using technology. We think the new interest had to do with demands of corporate governance, risk management and regulatory compliance. We also think that newer and younger board members were pushing for better ways of communicating.  Board Members should get more involved with technology. It provides tools for the board to better understand information in a timely fashion. I think that CIO's are expanding their leadership into board related activities and we will see more of them on boards in the future. Reply

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