If you’ve assembled a board of directors for your company (either formally or informally), you probably sought out men and women who—in addition to being thoughtful, intelligent people you can trust—also bring diversity of professional expertise. This would likely include someone who has built successful businesses as well as people with backgrounds in finance, sales and marketing, government and possibly human resources issues. All well and good … but do you also have a technology expert?
Too often, the presence of technology-savvy individuals is missing from business-leadership boards. Perhaps it is because we tend to think of company directors as focused on the “big picture,” whereas we label IT professionals as hands-on problem solvers.
However, any business large enough to have several people engaged solely as directors is going to be highly reliant on technology … in many different ways. That’s simply the nature of modern businesses. How it is deployed—both by a company and that company’s competitors—is going to make a significant impact on prospects for long-term success. What could possibly be more “big picture” than that?
So what qualities should you seek in filling the “IT seat” on your board of directors? Here are some suggestions:
Articulate about current as well as looming technology – It won’t be enough to simply understand how technological innovations can benefit your company. Your IT expert should also be able to express his thoughts in ways that other board members will understand as well.
A successful entrepreneurial executive – The simplest way to apply this criterion would be to place someone on your board who is in the IT business—and one whose own business skills are kept sharp through competition. Their executive experience should be weighty enough that they understand bottom-line decision making, but they shouldn’t be so far removed entrepreneurial and hands-on work, that they lose sight of real world challenges to implementing technology.
No conflicts of interests – Make sure that your board member’s other interests won’t be affected by the recommendations he or she makes for your company. Certainly this would apply in the case of potential profiteering (even if honestly viewed as a “win-win”), but as related to emotional interests as well. For instance, someone who places so much value on being a member of your board that they won’t ever “rock the boat” would be nearly worthless. You would need people who are always willing to speak their minds, even if that means ruffling feathers.
A ‘state prosecutor’ – Choose someone who is ready to “prove his case” and also not shy about making others prove theirs. When your company hears pitches and presentations for new technology solutions—with high costs and potentially great business disruption—you want someone by your side who can effectively give them the third degree.
Of course, until you get your IT-smart board member, you can rely on your partners at SynchroNet to assist you in getting the most value from your technology investments. Our vCIO services, for instance, include strategies for increasing productivity from your current systems as well as taking advantage of emerging technologies. And when you do find the right person to serve as an IT-focused board member, we will be eager to work with him or her in continuing to move your business forward.