Conference boardroom news blockAs business continues to become technology-driven, CIOs and IT executives are increasingly expanding their roles beyond the C-suite.

Their experience and expertise is sorely needed at the board level. According to a 2016 study conducted by Accenture, just 10% of board members on corporate boards have professional technology experience.

There’s tremendous value that CIOs can offer to boards by illuminating them on critical technology trends couched in business terms.

“Board-ready CIOs are business leaders first with the strongest technology backbones possible,” said Adriana Karaboutis, EVP Technology, Business Solutions & Corporate Affairs at Biogen. Karaboutis, who made her remarks during an executive presentation at the 2016 Boston CIO Executive Leadership Summit produced by HMG Strategy, has participated on boards for both Biogen and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Karaboutis said the first thing that boards look for from CIOs is the ability to speak clearly about technology issues in business terms. This includes the capacity to delineate the different classes of digital technologies, such as social and mobile, in understandable terms.

Given the escalating risks posed by cyber security attacks, boards also expect CIOs to keep them apprised of emerging cyber security challenges and risk mitigation strategies. One way of doing this is by communicating to the board examples of cyber attacks that have been launched against other companies recently, along with the impact that these attacks have had on operational uptime, margins, customer loyalty, etc.

Another way that CIOs can demonstrate their value to the board is by communicating the returns generated by investing in data and analytics. This can include educating the board about how the use of market and customer data with analytics can be used to unearth insights into the factors that are contributing to recent changes in profit margins or customer satisfaction, along with actions that have been taken to address specific business challenges and the results that have been achieved.

In working with the C-suite and the board, it’s critical for CIOs to be effective communicators and great storytellers in order to effectively express what they’re trying to impart.

”I believe future CIOs and future leaders have to be technologists with technical depth and breadth that have deep business domain so they understand the business that they’re in, and they can convey the art of the possible,” said Snehal Antani, CTO at Splunk, in an HMG Strategy video.  “This means that they’re great storytellers, and they can tell stories to the board which may not necessarily be tech-savvy.”


Key Takeaways

  • The CIO’s technology/business expertise is sorely needed by the board of directors. According to a 2016 study conducted by Accenture, just 10% of board members on corporate boards have professional technology experience.
  • The first thing that boards look for from CIOs is the ability to speak clearly about technology issues in business terms, said Adriana Karaboutis, EVP Technology, Business Solutions & Corporate Affairs at Biogen.
  • One way that CIOs can keep board members up to speed on the state of cyber security is by sharing examples of cyber attacks that have been launched against other companies, along with the impact that these attacks have had on operational uptime, margins, customer loyalty, etc.