As corporate directors turn their thoughts to Spring and the post-pandemic world, their boardroom technology agenda is starting to change.
Data from IT market intelligence leader International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that corporate boards globally are getting focused on a balanced agenda of strategic IT issues, in addition to keeping a close eye on cybersecurity risk. Recent data indicates that their highest-rated issue is how technologies create better engagement with their customers. In a post-pandemic world where consumer behaviors have changed permanently, that’s understandable.
The IDC survey reinforces the critical role that the corporate boardroom has in governing digital business growth and strategy alongside the downside risks of cyber threats. Even as cybersecurity risk and large-scale systemic breaches remain in the daily headlines, the value-creating agenda surrounding the digital future is starting to blossom in the boardroom, as it should be.
After a year of crisis and disruption, corporate directors have never been busier, and their role has never been more vital. Per Melker, Group Vice President and GM of IDC’s CIO Executive Council, said this about the finding, “I think this is all-around good news, it shows boards understand the long-term strategic impact of IT. As more business value continues to be shaped by these technologies, the board has a clear role to play in technology-driven business growth.”
Next on IDC’s survey was how data can improve decision making and how changes in connectivity with 5G can expand the organization’s reach into markets. Although the importance of governing the downside risks haven’t strayed far from the top of the boardroom agenda, “making business operations resilient” and “ensuring trust and security” remains high on their list, occupying the 4th and 5th spots.
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Illustrating that while corporate directors are starting to look forward, protecting the value that their digital strategies and systems create is never far from mind.
Tony Cole, CTO of Attivo Networks, said, “It’s time for company boards to understand that our economy is completely reliant on technology for operations. This means we require technology-savvy board members to understand the risk when areas of security are ignored or underfunded. If not, many of the current security challenges we see today in the press will continue to repeat, year after year. Successful companies have adapted to the rapid pace of technological change, and boards must do the same.”
Boardroom effectiveness over a comprehensive digital and cybersecurity agenda starts with corporate directors who can govern both the upsides and downsides of information technology. Boardroom success on the broad technology agenda is defined by the skills, structure of the board, and the board’s scope of risk oversight.
Solarwinds recently added a boardroom cybersecurity committee and additional cyber competent directors to improve the corporate governance of their downside cybersecurity risks — after the fact of their breach. The basic corporate governance steps of having digital and cyber risk competent directors, organizing the board effectively, and actively governing systemic cyber risk are table stakes and should be standard boardroom practices.
Unfortunately, they remain the exception, not the rule. All but guaranteeing that even with the forward-looking optimism of boards starting to focus on digital transformation, the corporate boardroom will continue to be challenged to protect the digital value that they are beginning to focus on creating.