CIO 100: Swing IT to the boardroom to benefit the organisations

    VIP ROUNTABLE: Mariam Abdullahi, session moderator, Nik Nessbitt, Vimal Shah, Dr. Bitange Ndemo and Patrice Kiiru share insights at CIO Symposium during the VIP Rountable

    Time is ripe for the inner sanctum of boardroom sessions to heave from lukewarm discussions to the white-hot spotlight of bringing IT on the table and increasing public discourse on the same says industry leaders at the CIO 100 Symposium taking place at Naivsha, Kenya.

    The journey of bringing IT to the boardroom according Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Chairman of Kenya’s Taskforce on Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence began with the deliberate liberalization of communications sector nearly 20 yearsHowever, chartering on this new waters was not easy start in Kenya owing to lack of understanding of the digitization.

    In government, the shift prompted Mutahi Kagwe and Dr. Ndemo the then Minister and Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications respectively to tactfully use Lewin Theory to steadily change the industry.

    The Lewin Theory, says Dr. Ndemo gave them the opportunity to take risks, simplify ideas while advising the President who was persuaded the proposition to open liberalize the communications sector. This was done without using bigger and the fancy technical words that many boards have for years fricked.

    Nik Nesbitt stressed the need of being in the digitization environment to win it. Leaders should create opportunities that unlock the economic impact of digital transformation in manufacturing, financial services, education, healthcare, government and retail.

    The scenario is steadily changing today with several boards starting to get more excited to deliberate on technology in the boardroom. The directors engage in their firms’ compliance with an ever-evolving set of regulations, head off executive wrongdoing at the pass, and appease shareholders’ and today’s never-ending hunger for positive short-term results that are more achievable using technology said Vimal Shah, Chairman BIDCO.

    Although it is not uncommon for the topic of diversity to enter into boardroom and management discussions these days, Shah noted that the good news that has come with this change has been companies walking the talk of disruption. Those not disrupting themselves are being disrupted.

    Yet, there remains a gap between talking about diversity in its many facets and embedding diversity into boardroom thinking, ideas, actions and composition. With the growing number of challenges and risks boards face, it’s the latter that is critical to help answer that nagging question in the heads of many board members: “What are we missing?”

    Several boards hear that question frequently when visiting with boards and management. It doesn’t matter which industry or geographic region they’re in, or how profitable or successful the organisation they represent. The question stays fixed in the minds of board members, especially amid rising shareholder demands.

    Major public companies are important engines of economic prosperity, and boards have a paramount obligation to see that these national assets thrive.

    Boards can and must do better at balancing their function as compliance officers with their function as talents shaping the future. From their places around the table, directors must steer themselves and the company’s management team toward farsighted strategic and financial thinking and succession planning by enhancing digitization.

    Certainly it is management’s responsibility to develop and implement strategy, but the board must use a long-range lens when requesting and vetting senior leaders’ proposals—encouraging the top team to raise its game even when things are going well and challenging it to respond creatively when threats or problems emerge.



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