I recently attended a business luncheon with a panel of experts on the subject of Technology for Directors and discussed was a broad range of issues relating to directors and boards approach and strategy in the field of technology.
Although the questions and discussion was informative and enlightening I felt that, due to time constraints, there were some important issues not gone into depth.
One if these were the fuzziness that surrounds the formulation of strategy and the decision making process with regard to technology and technological innovation and application. Many boards confuse strategy with the application of IT within their company almost to the point of a, “Well you understand that sort of thing, you take care of it,” approach.
Although the decision making process with regard to implementation is correctly regarded as in the province of the CIO and IT executives, some boards relegate the strategy to the CIO and IT team also causing the control of the strategy to fall outside the boards control and resulting in errors and mistakes, sometimes of magnitude.
The difference between the strategy formulation and the implementation technology needs, for some boards, to be clearly delineated and boards have a responsibility to understand the technology that applies to their company in order to effectively formulate the strategy required to steer the technology, which is a tool after all, in a direction that enhances the company’s purpose and goals.
Once the strategy is determined then the executive decisions by the CIO and others that translate the strategy into the correct application can be effected.
Another issue, which the panel touched lightly on, is where a board or board members, are under time constraints and over committed tend to leave direction of IT matters to the CIO and the executives and have a tendency to rely on the IT personnel themselves to provide governance. While boards may traditionally seek external advice and consultation in legal, financial and HR matters. This rarely occurs with IT matters and in this can be a big error on the part of boards.