CIOs and the Board
Earlier this week I moderated a lively panel of CEOs at the HMG Strategy CIO Executive Leadership Summit in San Francisco, exploring what Boards need from CIOs and c-suite technology executives.
Are you exploring what it takes to join a Board of Directors? Here are a few tips from our panel.
Most boards have two major reasons for seeking an IT professional on their board. They want strategic and operational risk assessment and mitigation, including cybersecurity. They also want business strategy, including technology and business model disruption across the enterprise/industry.
Focus on the three Cs: Credentials, Communications, and Contacts. Having business-related credentials (MBA/Ph.D.) to denote more than a technical background. Write books, seek out public speaking engagements, make strategic contacts and develop relationships.
Boards are looking to optimize stewardship of a strategy to leverage technology in two frames: internal transformation (modernize, understand, protect and enable the business) and external transformation (innovate products, services, customer engagement).
Boards are charged with balancing the intrinsically competing priorities of minimizing risk while maximizing long term opportunity and profitability. The most useful and insightful contributions that anyone can make to a board discussion around technology are those that zero right in on the fulcrum issues between those competing priorities.
All businesses, whether established operations or start-up potential disruptors, face repeated build vs buy decisions. A CIO that has a clear vision of where a company’s real and valuable innovation is likely to occur, and who marshals resources (time, focus, money) to prioritize internal development in those areas, while guiding the efficient acquisition of everything else, is a CIO that can help a Board crystalize strategy.
Tech leaders with a broad knowledge of business and technology trends, who can speak in an easy to understand and compelling way, have a unique opportunity to help boards understand the issues and opportunities for companies in technology-related businesses. They can help anticipate and lead disruptive change, which typically requires a fairly deep understanding of multiple technical disciplines and a good sense of business fundamentals and strategy.
Mark Egan, StrataFusion Partner