The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Boards and technology - is there a mismatch of expectation or understanding

board of directors.pngI recently came across this post by McKinsey titled: Elevating technology on the boardroom agenda. It reminded me of the articles written in the 1990s during the .com era. This surprised me because I thought we were beyond this kind of discussion. My view is that most business issues have a technical component – I thought that perspective was common knowledge.

 

A new style of business is possible enabled by technology. I assumed that most business leaders today have grown up with computers – after all the start of the .com era was 20 years ago. It appears that McKinsey doesn’t think we’ve progressed that far.

 

One of the statements made in the article was “boards should discuss forward-looking views of technology’s impact on their companies’ industries. Less than 30 percent reported that their boards had these discussions “. It could be the people who completed the survey wanted the board talking about forward looking bits and bytes for it to be classified as ‘technology’. I certainly hope the board would delegate that level of detail to others.

 

One of the items in the article illustrates that almost 50% characterize the board does not spend enough of their attention on IT topics. I would rather see them avoid IT details and ensure the company’s on-going strategy and success. There is only so much attention to go around.

 

One item in the survey I do agree with is that boards need to understand the future view of how technologies will affect their industry. Using that knowledge to their advantage is definitely part of the board’s role as representatives of the stock holders. Periodic exposure to technology futures and implications for their industry is a worthwhile investment of their time.

Comments
MohNada | ‎01-08-2014 08:39 AM

A lot of executives avoid even the "not deep" technology issues discussions, I think this may be due to the lack of the right tools at such level of management, I saw a lot of executive reports that don't really help identifying the real pain areas, mostly red, yellow and green colors!...so, yes some are not really involved to that needed level till now, some are ahead of that, may be this varies from a region to another as well

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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