Leadership Strategies

CIOs, CISOs, and the Board: Digital Technology’s Rising Role, Opportunity, and Imperatives

The stakes are high and CIOs and CISO's must advise Boards to ensure long-lasting value quickly.
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Urgency to Define the Next “Normal”

Worldwide, organizations have risen to the pandemic’s challenges with often heroic responses, agility, and a strong embrace of new digital technologies – to a degree that has often surprised both the technologists and digital-skeptics. For CIOs and CISOs charged with enabling their organizations, customers, and extended ecosystems with enabling technology, digital technologies’ criticality and strategic impact have brought a newfound understanding of the art-of-the-possible and its concomitant responsibilities and implications for executive leadership and Boards of Directors.

All organizations worldwide have encountered challenges based on their industry, situation, and customers. Before the pandemic, different organizations and industries had been moving along different arcs to embed new digital technologies within their operations, ecosystem management, and customer experience strategies – with markedly different outcomes. For example, an MIT CISR 2019 Survey found, over the preceding three years, organizations with digitally savvy Board leadership performed markedly different than other organizations by achieving:

  • 38% higher revenue growth
  • 34% higher market cap
  • 34% higher ROA
  • 17% higher profit margin

As we have moved through the pandemic response, IDC research has documented that more digitally capable organizations have generally responded more quickly, and more effectively, to the pandemic. Now, in our work with business and technology leaders, IDC has found the zeitgeist awash with one simple yet profound question: What will become the next normal?  What changes in customer expectations, operations management, supply-chain optimization, etc., usually built upon a digital technology foundation, will be adopted, expected, and required going forward?

This question highlights the real challenges organizations are confronting: the question of leadership and an understanding of the profound impact that technologies can have upon resilience and effectiveness. Many organizations have embraced new digital technologies and have invested in a strong platform upon which to build these new capabilities – and they are using  these capabilities to outperform their competitors. Other organizations are asking the same question, what’s next, but before they can respond, they face considerable foundation-building.

The Crisis Shifts Forefront Responsibility to CIOs and CISOs

As we look forward, the expanded role for digital technologies within our organizations has become an escalating, differentiating, capability. How different organizations respond will be a direct result of the leadership from their CEOs and their Boards – CEOs and Boards advised and informed by their CIOs and CISOs.

The pandemic response has expanded CIOs’ and CISOs’ Board exposure and voice. The opportunity and profound challenge for CIOs and CISOs is to bring lasting value to their organizations via this broader influence. We have long shouldered the responsibility of advising executive leadership concerning the opportunities, responsibilities, and risks associated with our world of rapidly evolving digital technologies; now with the stakes increasing, this is also has become a rising professional opportunity as we both advise our Boards and potentially, even assume a direct role on a Board.

Create the Optimal Boardroom Partnership

Your corporate board has an active role to play in the long-term strategy and security of how your digital business system creates business value. You want a board who is your partner, and we’ll help you understand how to make them that. Join Joe Pucciarelli, Bob Zukis, and Cora Carmody for the CIO and CISO’s, Does Your Board Have Your Back? webinar live on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 2:00 PM/EST as they discuss the rising imperative of advising and guiding our Boards amidst a worldwide crisis that has radically accelerated the premium a digitally savvy Board can bring to a modern organization – and the rising professional opportunity this presents for CIOs and CISOs.

Joseph C. Pucciarelli

Group Vice President & IT Executive Advisor