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Across the board

Divina Paredes | June 3, 2015
More CIOs are being appointed to the board or are tasked to present regularly to this group as a member of the technology committee. Gartner executives Denildo Albuquerque and David Spaziani – both former CIOs – share pointers for stepping up to this role.

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More CIOs are being appointed to the board or are tasked to present regularly to this group as a member of the technology committee. Gartner executives Denildo Albuquerque and David Spaziani -- both former CIOs -- share pointers for stepping up to this role.

Gartner Executive Partner Denildo Albuquerque does not sugarcoat what it is like to be working with the board. "The boardroom is a scary place...even when it is empty," he says.

He reveals his first interaction with the board was "so bad, when I think about it, I still want to cry".

His first interaction with a company board was to explain a serious IT error which caused major repercussion for senior executives and a severe reputation damage to the IT department. "This is the sort of board interaction you do not want to have...and you will never forget it!"

Albuquerque has since moved on to other CIOs roles which required him to present regularly to boards, "fortunately a lot more positive experience than my first one".

The upside of these interactions is that, "You can improve with experience and practice."

Albuquerque and fellow Gartner Executive Partner David Spaziani shared their experiences on CIO and board interactions at the recent CIO100 events in Auckland and Wellington.

The two point out there is no prescribed formula on how best CIOs deal with and influence company boards. Board composition varies across industries and organisation size which also translate to different business technology challenges, they state.

But both agree the CIO should start honing their skills for these interactions as these will increasingly be part of their remit.

Research bears this out. Albuquerque cites a 2013 survey by the MIT Centre for Information Systems Research which found that (only) nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of CIOs attend every board meeting, and nearly half (48 per cent) meet with the board more than once a year. Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) meet with the board once a year, and 12 per cent, never.

The good news is that the frequency of interactions is growing year-on-year, he states.

His own experience proves this. In the 12 months leading to November last year when he joined Gartner, he has had more interactions with the board than in his whole 12 years as senior IT leader. This was largely due a transformation project the organisation was implementing.

Albuquerque also shares some sobering statistics from Gartner on why CIOs need to focus more on working with the board and the executive team.

Gartner surveyed CEOs and senior business executives across the globe on where they get their digital and IT-related business ideas. Fifty-four per cent of respondents mentioned publications, newspapers and reports. Less than half, 47 per cent, said they get it from personal or professional networks, and from that only 10 per cent ("a very low number", says Albuquerque) said they get this information from the CIO. Around 31 per cent of respondents said they get the information online, and 19 per cent get it from market or industry sources including Gartner.

 

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