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Wanted: Tech-savvy board of directors

Mitch Betts | March 21, 2011
Corporate boards of directors should devote as much attention to IT matters as they do to accounting rules, but they rarely do, according to a report released earlier this month by the Deloitte Center for Corporate Governance .

FRAMINGHAM, 21 MARCH 2011 - Corporate boards of directors should devote as much attention to IT matters as they do to accounting rules, but they rarely do, according to a report released earlier this month by the Deloitte Center for Corporate Governance .

Today's companies need "tech-savvy directors" who can make sure the IT strategy is aligned with the overall strategic plan, as well as monitor the various risks associated with IT, the report said.

"The growing complexity and pervasiveness of IT is increasingly making IT literacy an essential competency for directors," the Deloitte Center report said. Boards should give as much scrutiny to a major IT project as they would to any other major capital expenditure, it noted.

But most directors acknowledge that they don't spend enough time on IT oversight, perhaps because they aren't comfortable with technology, according to the report. The board of directors at FedEx is one of the few to have an IT oversight subcommittee, noted David Zanca, FedEx's senior vice president of IT, at Computerworld's recent Premier 100 IT Leaders conference.

The Deloitte report suggested that CIOs could educate their boards about IT strategy and risks -- using business language, not technical jargon -- at a dinner before board meetings.

In addition, Deloitte said CIOs could boost the technical literacy of directors by providing a secure "board portal" or dashboard that has key documents, metrics and data analytics to support decision-making.

 

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