​​Technology Is Too Important to Leave to IT

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​I have been reading an October 2012 publication by McKinsey, Evaluating Technology on the Boardroom Agenda (registration required — and well worth it). The title of this post is drawn from the piece. The full and important quote is:

Businesses are becoming increasingly digital and it’s not just a matter of process automation or resource-planning systems. Technology trends such as big data, cloud computing, mobility, and social media are giving rise to new marketing and operational capabilities. Indeed, technology has become too embedded in the fabric of th​e business — and too critical for competitive performance — to be left to the IT function alone.”

While the article focuses too much on the traditional value of IT (enabling synergies from M&A, protecting the organization from cyber attacks, and keeping the operations running) rather than recognizing that disruptive technology is now considered the #1 enabler of business growth, there is some interesting content.

For example, 45% of directors do not believe their boards are spending enough time discussing technology-related issues. In particular, insufficient time is spent on “forward-looking discussion of how technology will affect [their] industry.”

Recognition is given to the value that an IT-savvy director can bring to a board, and the article references a Spencer Stuart survey result: 20% of boards are looking to hire directors with that expertise. There’s an interesting table in the McKinsey report that shows the different areas where the new director has improved board activities.

The quibble I have with the authors is that I think they have missed a key factor: technology today and in the foreseeable future is and will be critical not only to the operation of the organization, but its new initiatives, strategies, management, and direction. As such, the effective use of technology should not be a separate discussion but part of every risk and strategy meeting — at full board and committee levels.

I welcome your views.​

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