Tips for Engaging Your Board about Technology and Security

The Harvard Law School forum released some tips for how Chief Information Officers (CIOs) can engage the board about technology and evolving trends. Technology has become a driving factor in business strategy and strategic decisions across all industries. Since CIOs do not typically appear in the boardroom, they need to determine the best way to interact with the board and emphasize the importance of technology in the workplace.

CIOs often find it difficult to add technology to the board’s agenda. Below are some tips to guide CIOs in having this important conversation with board members to increase their exposure and aid in becoming a high-performing organization.

  1. Communication. Continue to frequently engage with the board and subcommittees. Security and technology should be a common discussion on one of the board’s committees. CIOs can present technology topics to committees to ensure they are well-received before presenting to the full board and this tends to be more successful.
  2. Create Scorecards. Creating a scorecard can be extremely helpful to understand metrics and risk markers. This can be a visual display that is reviewed by the board and is easily digestible. The scorecard can track various risks and will indicate anything that is out of tolerance. Quarterly progress can also be tracked by using a scorecard.
  3. Education & Awareness. Board members have different levels of “tech–fluency,” meaning how individuals understand and discuss technology concepts. CIOs should start with the basics and provide training for those who do not comprehend technology trends as well as others. CIOs should aim to increase the “tech-fluency” of all board members and employees.
  4. Defensive vs. Offensive Interactions. A defensive interaction with the board regarding technology focuses on “protecting, preserving and enhancing corporate assets.” Offensive interactions include discussing ways to increase shareholder value by developing new capabilities, introducing new business models and increasing revenue. A CIO should maintain a balance between defensive and offensive interactions among the board for productive meetings and keep these conversations separate.

It is time for technology leaders and board members to continually discuss new technology trends. It is best for CIOs to be open-minded, inclusive and willing to consider all viewpoints.