Critical.
Authoritative.
Strategic.
Subscribe to CIO Magazine »

CIOs: You Can Rescue Your Board

CIO Helen Cousins took exactly the right approach when she stood in front of Lincoln Trust's board of directors not long ago. Her mission was to educate the board about predictive analytics--a topic that can get gruesomely geeky in about the time it takes to cross your eyes.

Knowing that these days board members are especially concerned with the "lifetime value" of the financial firm's customers, this veteran CIO wisely focused her discussion on something they actually cared about. She explained how predictive analytics could identify (and better serve) their most valuable customers.

"If they don't know about technology," Cousins points out in our cover story (" CIOs Say Corporate Directors Are Clueless About IT"), "they can't imagine what I'm imagining."

Notoriously clueless about IT, the average board of directors is dangerously undereducated about technology. In our exclusive survey of 250 IT leaders, we confirmed what everyone already suspected about the board's allergic reactions to strategic IT discussions. With its risk-averse nature and stockholder focus, this venerable assemblage of business experts is more likely to stymie IT innovation than encourage it.

That obviously needs to change, and there's reason to believe it could. A recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found 60 percent of directors wanting to devote more time to IT issues in the coming year--up from only 36 percent last year. That is a huge opportunity for CIOs, who need to be giving their boards "a framework to discuss IT," says Don Keller, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers' Center for Board Governance.

Evelyn Follit, a former CIO who's served on the boards of six companies, recommends a divide-and-conquer strategy. Create a short briefing paper on an emerging IT trend, for example, and then hold private meetings with the more amenable members. Some directors may be hesitant to ask questions (and betray their weak spots) in front of the full board, she notes.

Our story delivers reality-tested, actionable advice on how CIOs can rescue their boards from a lack of IT understanding. Among our experienced sources are the CIOs of American Airlines, Darden Restaurants, Dun and Bradstreet, and Talisman Energy. Ultimately, this rescue mission is well worth your time, as a tech-savvy board can be a uniquely useful resource. "They keep you real," says CIO Jim Noble of Talisman Energy. "They keep you connected with the marketplace."

Read more about data center in CIO's Data Center Drilldown.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Comments are now closed.
Related Coverage
Related Whitepapers
Latest Stories
Community Comments
Tags: Technology Topics | Data Center, IT Governance, Configuration / maintenance, hardware systems, board of directors, Technology Topics, CIO, Kno
Latest Blog Posts
Whitepapers
  • VDI Solutions Guide
    The IT industry has been abuzz promoting the idea of virtual desktop infrastructure. But despite its advantages, adoption has been slow, and many organizations have abandoned their VDI initiatives. This paper explores how a new flash-based approach can overcome the key VDI pitfalls, and deliver a solution that both end-users and IT administrators will love.
    Learn more »
  • Transform IT, Transform the Enterprise
    Existing IT operational models and an ageing infrastructure are CIOs back from their full potential. This paper reveals the three IT imperatives for a CIO-led transformation, and details how CIOs are adopting strategies to change IT and assert their organisations as business leaders and innovators.
    Learn more »
  • Is Your IT Infrastructure Keeping Up?
    This helpful infographic demonstrates how, when IT is the backbone of modern business, a converged infrastructure system can solve the challenge of cost, complexity, availability, rapid provisioning and flexibility.
    Learn more »
All whitepapers
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to Invitation only events CIO, reports & analysis.
Latest Jobs
Salary Calculator

Supplied by

View the full Peoplebank ICT Salary & Employment Index

Recent comments

Computerworld
ARN
Techworld
CMO