Need for tech-savvy board of directors

Read time 1min 50sec

In most organisations, members of the board of directors do not realise the significance of technology as a critical business driver.

That's the view of Winston Hayden, independent trusted advisor, and director and past president of ISACA SA, who presented yesterday at the ITWeb Governance, Risk and Compliance Summit 2015, held at The Forum, Bryanston.

According to Hayden, the average age of a board member is 62 years, and technology is not an area of expertise a lot of them.

"Most of them are intimidated by technology and the pace at which it is changing, and they cannot keep up," he noted.

"Today there are a lot of technologies being used in the business to boost competitive advantage," he said. "These include cloud computing, big data, mobility, social media, Internet of things, digital currencies, machine learning and satellite technology."

He revealed the board of directors is usually selected based on industry experience and skills. In most cases, he added, they focus on traditional agendas like strategic planning, finance/budgeting, human resources, sales and marketing, operations and performance management, among others.

However, they do not include the use of technology as a strategic enabler of business on the agenda, Hayden pointed out.

"The board of directors either need to be tech-savvy or create the necessary governance structures to provide the capability and expertise for technology in the business."

He suggested while it is imperative for the board members to continue fulfilling the needs of the shareholders, they should also create a technology committee within the board to spearhead the use of technologies to drive business.

The committee will be responsible for providing oversight of technology performance; monitoring and evaluating technology performance; and ensuring technology investments are delivering return on investment, he said.

Businesses like Kodak have gone under because they failed to embrace digital technologies and the board of directors should learn from that, Hayden warned.

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