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A technology partner on your company's board can ensure success

Who has your company’s back when it comes to IT risk and investments? Does anyone on the board of directors feel qualified to review technology governance and IT architecture, particularly with regard to integration into the overall strategic plan? It may be time to elevate the conversation so that other leaders recognize what you already know: Your company can’t thrive - and may not survive - without acknowledging that technology is central to success. A seasoned CIO on your board can help determine the strategic value of technology investments to your company, evaluate and monitor major implementations and roll-out plans (before things have an opportunity to go awry), and mitigate the fear factor by ensuring a pro-active plan to address security and governance concerns.


Do recognize that almost every company is a technology company

Almost every company today is in some way a technology company and corporate board directors help define the interests of a company. Build your company’s technical prestige with a CIO board member who will bring credibility to those initiatives.

Do equip your business with technology that is easy to work with, customer-friendly and can help grow the business

A seasoned, tech-savvy board member will ensure that this agenda is incorporated into board-level strategic discussions. This board member can also advise leadership decisions around technology choices that will advance your business.

Do give your CIO a mentor

A been-there-done-that CIO serving on the corporate board can help your company’s CIO navigate tricky relationships, shape messaging (inside and outside the organization) and evaluate technology offerings in light of short- and long-term business strategy.

Do remember that different companies have different challenges

Perhaps your company would benefit from a board member well versed in leveraging social media or ecommerce platforms. Another organization might benefit from leadership in cybersecurity or advising on a complete technology transformation. Understanding how key technology initiatives align with your business strategy will shape the technology expertise your company should have on its board.

Do ensure that the board has your CEO’s technology back, too

A hardened, skillful CIO on the board of directors will know how to work effectively with the CEO and other board members to make sure the focus is on results, not personalities. This will build confidence inside the system and credibility across the leadership team.


Do not assume all risk is equal

Leaving the evaluation of technology risk to a well-meaning but often overburdened and sometimes technology-light audit committee might increase your exposure. A CIO on the board who’s already had his tires kicked will know how to kick back.

Do not discount the confidence that an acknowledged tech expert can instill with your stakeholders

Outsiders will be impressed by the CIO leadership heft that your company is able to attract to the corporate board to help drive business strategy and solve problems. That level of talent on the board of directors will also support stakeholders’ confidence that your company is being well run.

Do not think that having a CIO on the Board eliminates the need for a great CIO on the CEO’s team

A previously tested CIO board member can offer insight and wisdom on key issues and technology investments but he/she can’t take the place of a technology leader who is blocking, tackling, strategizing and leading for your company every day. The best CIOs, exposed to numerous business situations, will work successfully with the CEO and the board to implement and manage the right technology solutions for your company.

Do not take relationships for granted

Board members provide key connections into a function or an industry. Augment your CEO’s knowledge of technology and support your CIO’s engagement with the tech community through the contacts your CIO board member has.

Do not forget that you only know as much as you know

An experienced CIO on your board can help assess existing technology leadership talent against your company’s future strategic plans.

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A CIO serving as a corporate board member will be a valuable resource, sharing hard-earned wisdom, offering innovative ideas and steering the strategic conversations to technology solutions when appropriate. Plus, a CIO on the board can raise the level of importance of an issue or initiative. This can be a great help to a company CIO who is competing for resources with other business leaders and also to a CEO who needs the overall board to realize the criticality of technology to overall business success.

You might be betting your company on IT investments and infrastructure. Make sure you get it right by having a CIO on your board who will be your technology partner.

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Catherine McGuinness and Bob LitschiDirectors

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Catherine graduated with a BA in English Literature from Fordham College. Building a career in executive recruiting from London to New York and ultimately Austin, TX, her work experience spans global execut...

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