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  1. Anand Sanwal

    I’ve been reading your articles in the FT as well as your blog for some time, and I’ve generally found them quite interesting and insightful.
    But your latest article entitled “Technology management is a board issue” which appeared in the FT had some points which seemed fairly off-the-mark and since there was no comment feature in the FT, I wanted to leave my comment here.
    Overall, I thought the article perpetuated the “IT as a victim” theme which seems very persistent today. I’m perplexed by IT organizations and what seems like a pervasive Rodney Dangerfield-esque ‘I get no respect’ philosophy and attitude. This inferiority complex manifests itself repeatedly with the constant “what is the business value of IT?” efforts that IT organizatons seem to undertake. These generally do little to prove the value and instead serve to make a host of consultants and software vendors who sell various elixirs a bit wealthier.
    In the case of the Board, it is not their job to understand and realize the importance of IT, but in fact, it is the CIO’s responsibility to create a compelling case that makes the Board prioritize and want to hear about IT. This may mean the CIO collaborates and influences the CEO or his/her business partners to raise IT discussions. Or perhaps they do it via some other means, but the main point is that it is the CIO’s job to raise consciousness on this topic.
    The Board should be focusing on strategic and financial considerations which means that the CEO, CFO and business/operations folks will dominate the agenda because they generally speak about these topics in the language of business, e.g., revenue, profit, cashflow, new customers, retained customers, etc.
    It is not the job of the Board or the rest of the organization to understand IT, but the job of IT to talk, like other groups, in the language of business. If they do this in a compelling manner, they’ll earn the requisite spot(s) on the Board agenda. Merely saying you deserve the time/attention is not enough.
    I do agree that many business & Board members maybe ill-informed about technology and its implications, but again, the responsibility falls onto the CIO and his/her organization to provide appropriate education and context to get the Board interested & engaged. This may mean convincing the CEO or other senior managers of this, but as a high-ranking member of the senior team, I’d presume the CIO would have the capability to “sell” these ideas. If they cannot syndicate their ideas, the issue maybe with the CIO.
    Your point about future board members being likely to have spent part of their career in the IT function maybe true because of the changing demographics within corporations, but again, this is not nor should it be requisite. A board which is financially and strategically astute and which understands that IT maybe an enabler of certain organizational priorities should be enough.
    I look forward to reading your future articles. Thanks.
    Anand Sanwal


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