The Critical Role of IT Professionals in Business Strategy Planning and Corporate Level Strategy
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, the role of IT professionals on boards has become indispensable for effective business strategy planning, corporate-level strategy, and the overall strategic management process.
Why aren’t more boards seeking directors with an information technology background? IT professionals could make a significant difference in supporting business strategy planning, corporate-level strategy, and the strategic management process.
According to the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, most boards traditionally seek skill sets from law, finance, and accounting. Surprisingly, boards rarely seek IT experience, even though technology is pivotal in modern business operations. Statistics reveal a significant imbalance, with people from finance and legal backgrounds outnumbering IT professionals 2 to 1.
In a technology-dependent society where innovative technologies drive growth, having IT expertise on boards is critical. All IT expenditure decisions are ultimately made by the board, making it essential for boards to understand the IT industry.
Technology is continually evolving, influencing every industry. Phones, laptops, and mobile computers have become essential tools. With digital disruption and consumption on the rise, a pressing need for a specialist IT voice on boards is needed. This IT presence would offer pragmatic thinking and a deep understanding of how technology underpins business success. Such professionals can provide invaluable advice on managing risks and leveraging opportunities digital disruption presents.
Recognizing the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Gartner Report (2017) predicts that 20.8 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. This highlights the importance of IT representation on boards to ensure a sound platform for future growth and align with business strategy planning.
Examining scenarios where technology has transformed everyday encounters, it becomes evident that there is a need for a technology spokesperson on committees and boards. Examples include:
- Netflix vs. Blockbuster
- Virtual offices vs. physical offices
- Uber vs. taxis
- Amazon vs. the retail industry
- Spotify vs. the music industry
- Airbnb vs. hotels
In these cases, technology acts as an enabler rather than a disruptor, providing convenient, easy, and quick solutions. This underscores the importance of a technology-savvy perspective in governance and the need to bridge the technology gap in strategic decision-making.
Major technological changes are driving the imperative for an IT voice on boards. IT professionals are becoming as crucial as lawyers and accountants. While IT is relatively new in the boardroom, it is rapidly becoming a critical component without which organisations cannot prosper.
During a course at the Australian Institute of Company Directors, BCS’ Managing Director, Vito Rinaldi, found himself among doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Reflecting on the focus question of how often businesses should have strategy meetings, he highlighted the distinct IT perspective: “When dealing with IT, we live and breathe strategy, often having quarterly strategy meetings due to the rapid rate of change in the IT industry – further testament to the need for an IT voice on boards.”
As society increasingly depends on technology, any board without an experienced IT professional risks being left behind in the ever-evolving business landscape.