Boards and Technology

There has been some blog and notes recently around the use of technology in the board room.  Whether to use iPads or other technology to manage and communicate board and committee papers.  Whilst this is a useful development for the efficiency of the board room, I think there are more fundamental issues in relation to technology for boards to consider.

I have had a number of conversations recently in the context of strategic issues that are facing boards and have been surprised that technology has not been on the list.

One recent list of key strategic issues covered matters such as agriculture/food security, energy security, rapid urbanisation, diversity (of boards and executive ranks) and carbon crime.

These are issues that face some boards, but technology pretty much affects all organisations and is key to operational and strategic imperatives.

Recent examples such as the shutting of the internet in Egypt (could your business operate if the internet was closed down), denial of service attacks (in response to WikiLeaks) to major international credit card providers such as MasterCard, and the ongoing issues that Virgin Blue airlines has been having with their reservation and checkin systems significantly affecting services, with a high media profile, at the same time as the airlines strategy is to “go up market” to attract increase business travel.

Whilst I have some concerns in relation to the ISO38500 IT Governance Standard, boards do have a responsibility to have strategic oversight and monitor the risks associated with the achievement of their strategy.  This requires boards to have effective oversight of all activities, including information systems.  Companies such as Westpac (see download Charter) have created board sub-committees overseeing information systems which may be an approach to consider in your organisation.

How is your board considering and over sighting the key competitive issue of technology?

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