Monday, March 6, 2017

Enforcing Digital Acumen in the Board

Digital Acumen = Digital IQ + Strategic Acumen + Information savvy


Modern corporate boards as the top leadership team play a critical role in overseeing strategy, advising management practices and monitoring corporate performance. At the dawn of the digital era, the forward-thinking board also sets the tone of changes in their organizations, and insightful BoDs are the mastermind behind the digital transformation.


Strategic Acumen: Digital organizations are complex systems that are dynamic, self-evolving, self-adaptable, and self-perpetuating. The fact is that change is happening at a much faster pace than ever before, requiring a much more rapid response in order to survive and thrive. The strategy is definitely a different beast nowadays because the speed of change is accelerating. The traditional strategy is the view via considerably narrow frames with static timelines, but digital strategy view is broader to oversee the entire business ecosystem and has to embrace the emergent digital dynamic with continuous disruptions. Hence, digital BoDs with strategic acumen are in demand for helping the business in strategy development. Because they often present the in-depth knowledge about the business and expertise in multiple domains. So, they can see things from different angles and provide invaluable feedback to business management teams for leading digital transformation.


Digital IQ: The digital IQ of IT organization depends on the BoDs and top leaders’ "digital IQ." The contemporary BoDs with high digital IQ should focus on the information aspect of the role in the context of the business. Digital leaders are more comfortable with leveraging data and intuition to make the decision right. The multidimensional digital effects provide impressive advantages in term of the speed of delivery, the quality of information for decision making, and the wisdom of digital workforce. BoDs with high digital IQ can both drive changes and adapt to changes effortlessly. To improve their “Digital IQ,” it is also important for digital leaders including BoDs to thinking the digital wholeness. If the majority of organizations at the industrial age are manipulated by silo thinking and hierarchical style, and then digital organizations mean holism and interconnectivity.  It’s about seeing interrelationships rather than isolated things, seeing patterns of change rather than static or mechanical parts.


IT Savvy: With fasting growing information and emergent digital technologies, the board should become more IT friendly and informative. While directors bring many competencies to the table, most do not have access to information about innovation and its potential related to the businesses they oversee. Therefore, companies should establish on-going avenues to information which will regularly feed BoDs understanding about trends and potential innovation for their businesses. An IT-savvy board should change the perspective to understand the power of information and the potential of technology. A high performing board has the solid capability to govern the changing tide of technology and its impact on business. A tech-savvy board will have the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, trustworthiness, prepare, and launch change, innovation, and ensure what happens next. The IT savvy Board presents the spirit of collaboration and puts the serious effort on bridging the business and IT for improving the overall organizational effectiveness, responsiveness, scale, and governance. It is at the heart of that mantra regardless of industry and business size.


Great boards are heterogeneous, inquisitive, intelligent, effective, innovative and influential. They also continue to add the new blood for enforcing digital acumen in the boardroom. As boards look to identify new director candidates, those with leadership potential, in-depth understanding, unique insight, and extensive experience in the twenty-first-century drivers of change such as digitization, global savvy, and business innovation can add significant value to bridge multiple gaps. Sharpening “directorship” for getting digital ready is imperative for setting the top leadership tone to run a high mature digital organization.



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