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The Importance of Being Able to Read the (Board)Room

Not all boardrooms "read" the room. See how boardroom leaders shape and secure the digital future with IDC's Per Melker.
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Those of you who know me probably know that I’m a big football (soccer) fan. There is one club that I’ve had a long frustrating, but loyal relationship with –  The Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premier League. However, after the announcement yesterday with twelve of the largest clubs, Tottenham being one of them, announcing their own league I’m questioning my commitment. I’m not alone. A large majority of the stakeholders (fans, partners, leagues, etc.) of these clubs are against it. The backlash has been immense. How is it possible that the owners and boards of these clubs could read the situational room so wrong?

It strikes me that we could have a similar situation in the enterprise boardroom when it comes to the board’s ability to navigate and govern their digital future. Yes, maybe little bit of a stretch but how much of a stretch? The possible impacts of cybersecurity incidents are greater than ever, and the importance of a digitally enabled Future Enterprise can’t be understated. BUT what’s the read in the boardroom? Study after study of business stakeholders tells us that boards’ digital abilities and lack of know-how are across three critical categories – strategy, oversight, defense. But what’s the read in the boardroom on these topics? Are board members asking themselves the self-critical questions?

The good news, in IDC’s global resiliency study fielded in February 2021 found that 71% of US CIOs and IT Executives stated they present to the board at least quarterly on the organization’s IT investments and strategies. It’s a good start but more needs to be done to help boardroom leaders shape and secure the digital future. “Digital leadership starts with the boardroom and there’s a significant business benefit to having digitally savvy boards, especially coming out of the pandemic,” said Bob Zukis, DDN CEO and Founder. “These issues should be viewed as table stakes for every director and boardroom.” 

The launch of The Corporate Director’s Digital Council [Link To Read More] is to help boards with these issues, and instead of providing subtle cues, the time has come for a direct approach to achieve critical mass across the boardroom. Board members need to develop capabilities, individually and as a team, to oversee cybersecurity risks and the digital future. Certifying corporate boards to the DiRECTOR framework will also help corporate directors apply an effective approach to digital and cybersecurity risk.

A new enterprise agenda is emerging (see Future Enterprise).  An agenda driven by the rise of the Digital Economy and enabled by evolving technology capabilities. It’s a business agenda that ultimately sets out a vision for future proofing the enterprise and foster stronger collaboration between tech and the line-of-business. The agenda is fueled by game-changing opportunities, massive changes, but new systemic risks. The goal is clear – but how to navigate these complex digital business systems is not.  Digitally savvy boards will be in a better position to “read” the room and tackle these issues to benefit all their stakeholders.   

Per Melker

General Manager, CIO Executive Council