In today’s rapidly changing and competitive business environment, virtually every industry sector is susceptible to some type of technology disruption that has existential implications. Embedded in these implications are unique and novel types of risks and opportunities that are challenging the capabilities of boards. It would be logical to presume that in the face of these challenges that boards would be actively recruiting directors who have meaningful and requisite technology expertise in order to help manage these new risks and seize new opportunities; and yet, this does not appear to be occurring
An anecdotal survey of Canadian boards illustrates that the recruiting of tech-savvy directors has not been successful or perhaps even a priority despite the environment described above. While these resources would provide valuable input and perspectives to their board peers; the reality is that most new board appointments continue to be filled by directors with experience as executives in CEO, COO, President, CFO and other financial leadership roles.
Board Composition Needs to Include Technology Expertise:
We believe that relevant technology expertise should be a key criterion of every company’s board composition because:
- Technology is far more complex and reaching a frenetic pace where boards are being challenged to stay current.
- Cyber-security attacks, data leaks and privacy breaches are becoming ever more prevalent and remain a top focus for boards. But, other technology-related risks such as digital transformations, business resilience, intellectual property protection and critical technology initiatives are also becoming increasingly more complex for boards to exercise their oversight responsibilities.
- Recruiting tech-savvy directors will change the discussion and significantly enhance the board’s capabilities by:
- Providing fresh, innovative thinking and new perspectives that will enable the board to appropriately understand the hype and the promise of disruption and innovation, along with the risks that go with it;
- Contributing in-depth expertise to those board discussions that are focused on management’s actions to identify and respond to evolving threats, transformation opportunities, and critical technology-driven initiatives that impact their organization;
- Helping the board to understand the implications that disruptive technology innovations have on the key elements of the entity’s strategy and the various appetites for risk; and,
- Strengthening the board’s overall ability to execute its oversight responsibilities.
Other Important Factors to Consider:
- When recruiting technology experts to your board, it’s essential that these individuals also possess broader competencies in order to contribute to a wide variety of board topics such as; sound business and financial acumen, strong judgement, a strategic mind set, excellent communications skills and an affinity for distilling tech-speak into understandable language
- Redesigning your board’s composition to include relevant technology expertise is also a great opportunity to include broader diversity. Highly effective boards also ensure that they have a variety of perspectives to draw from, which includes considering different thinking, working and communication styles, gender balance, age and ethnicity. A well designed and “truly” diverse board—is a stronger board.
Conduct a rigorous skills assessment of your board to identify which directors have experience in a senior technology leadership role and an in-depth understanding of the nature and magnitude of the technology risks faced by the company. Ascertain if they have the up-to-date technology expertise to effectively challenge management and specifically, the company’s technology officers, on the inherent risks and opportunities vis-à-vis technology disruption, digital transformation, cyber-security, big data and analytics, and other highly complex technology initiatives. If you struggle to identify anyone who meets this criterion; then your next steps are clear.
Take action today! It’s time to engage in a rigorous and creative process to recruit a new breed of tech-savvy professionals to your board. Don’t be the last to the fishing pond and take note that being over-boarded poses further problems to the pipeline of qualified and board-ready tech talent.
2018 The Year of Living Dangerously
How New Regulations and Technology Disruption Will Challenge the Board and C-Suite
For Officers and Directors of Canadian companies that are SEC registrants – take note of new requirements for managing cyber breach risk. For all Canadian organizations –the new Canadian privacy legislation is a bear.
This article summarizes a handful of new regulations aimed specifically at the manner and robustness of how exchange-listed companies address and respond to a cyber event – the “demon-child” of the digital revolution that has swept our globe. We’ll provide a handful of specific and practical actions to respond to the challenges presented by the digital revolution from the perspectives of the boardroom and the C-suite.
About Lansdowne Board Intelligence
Lansdowne Board Intelligence is uniquely and exclusively dedicated to the work of Boards. We help you to construct an appropriate board composition, recruit the most relevant and diverse board directors, and make a meaningful assessment of their competencies, characteristics and capability. Our unique process, engages your board in revitalizing its practices, which ensures a robust and objective recruitment process that will withstand scrutiny from your most fervent stakeholders.
Gillian Lansdowne can be reached at:
416 929 6969