Carving out a place for the CIO: Why corporate boards are pushing for more tech expertise 

Tech leaders are calling for more representation on corporate boards as positions such as the CIO are integral to pushing digital strategies in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an Oct. 12 Wall Street Journal report. 

“If you didn’t have a digital strategy, you do now or you don’t survive,” Guillermo Diaz Jr., CEO at software firm Kloudspot, told the publication. “You have to have a digital strategy and digital culture, and a board that thinks that way.” 

Mr. Diaz recently joined the board of directors for Oakland-based insurer Blue Shield of California. Even with advances in cloud computing and software over the past few years, most companies have moved slowly with introducing CIOs and other tech executives on boards, he said. 

There has always been a low number of CIOs and other IT executives on corporate boards, and the number may have decreased even further during the pandemic, said Martha Heller, CEO of tech recruiting firm Heller Search Associates. “Because of the pandemic, the CIO’s operational responsibilities have grown so dramatically that their CEOs are less willing to loan them out to other boards,” she said. 

About one-third of CIOs at large firms said they don’t serve on their company’s board, according to a recent survey by IT recruiting and outsourcing firm Harvey Nash and KPMG International, the Journal reports. The survey, which was commissioned before and after the pandemic hit, included responses from more than 4,000 corporate tech leaders. 

Harvey Nash President Sean Gilligan said the company fully anticipates that tech leadership involvement on the board level will increase as organizations continue to rapidly implement business continuity tools such as artificial intelligence software to help keep businesses running. 

“We would imagine that, because of this, the importance of tech will be more visible to all and over the course of this year additional board seats will go to the CIO,” he said.

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