The importance of tech leaders in the boardroom

The Digital Revolution is not a new phenomenon,Technology is radically changing how everyone does business, yet tech savvy directors don’t seem to be filling up enough seats in the boardroom.Roger Hitchcock, Senior Partner at the Sirdar Group shares his views on why.

One of the main areas of focus for boards at present is board composition – who should be on the board, and why? With the shift in thinking away from the traditional structure of boards towards a more holistic and diversified approach, much of this debate has focused on the issue of diversity. But perhaps the focus on diversity has got off on the wrong foot. The reason for diversity has unfortunately become, in many cases, another board ‘tick-the-box’ activity.

This leads to the question about the presence on boards of members with specific technology related exposure and experience (CIOs, CTOs etc.). The right question to ask about every board seat is ‘who is the best person that, together with the other board members, will be able to contribute to the best interests of the company?’ Approaching the topic of board composition in this way, ensures that the best interests of the company, is kept front and centre.

What this means practically in today’s world, is that without doubt, technology and its effective use and application in business, has become a critical factor in the best interests of every company! Most businesses don’t simply use technology, but rather, technology has become an integral part of how they operate and the value that they offer. In this light, the elevation of the role of technology – and of those who can represent technology’s role at a strategic and not merely operational level, has become paramount. The contribution of the CIO or CTO to the strategic discussion at board level cannot be overlooked.

The challenge however, is that no ‘board seat’ should be reserved for someone who can only provide a specific perspective or technical role. All board members need to be able to direct the company – their critical role as governors needs to be emphasised and is something that needs to be learned. Again, this does provide an opportunity for CIOs and CTOs to serve on other boards to learn this governing role. Enrolling these new board members on a directorship training programme would be money well invested.