Digital technology expertise at the board table is a must: why no company board can afford to be without it in 2017.

Author:Gottenberg, Norbert

The digital revolution is here, as evidenced by new digital-based players disrupting status-quo industries, causing upheavals in traditional business models. Some noteworthy examples of Web-based companies disrupting traditional ones:

* On the consumer front: Airbnb, Apple,, eBay, Facebook, Google, Linkedln, Netflix, Priceline, Spotify, and Uber.

* On the industrial front: cloud-based systems and services provided by, AWS, Workday, and Box, as well as advanced digital technology for areas such as 3-D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, and supply-chain management.

Digital disruption is an arena most boards have never experienced. The stakes are high and getting higher than ever before, since digital technology is becoming the heart of a company's overall business strategy and supporting models. Along that line, a company board, as one of its key fiduciary responsibilities, must ensure that the company can exist and prosper in the digital era. As such, the board must have the requisite digital technology expertise at the board table.

To survive in the long term, companies and their boards have to be proactive by undertaking a digital transformation of their businesses, recognizing now is the time to redefine and rebuild critical business models and strategies.

For that effort to succeed, however, boards must understand and champion the digital technology fundamentals involved--such as digital assets, e-commerce platforms, Internet of Things, mobile, cybersecurity, Big Data and Analytics, cloud computing, and global networking and connectivity, just to mention a handful. This is where having the requisite digital technology expertise at the board table becomes absolutely critical.

Digital-forward companies are leveraging their digital disruption activities at the expense of traditional companies, creating a gap which is widening at an accelerated pace; for traditional companies to catch up or take the lead, time is of the essence.

In today's operating environment, massive amounts of information are circulating the globe in nanoseconds, and companies must have the digital infrastructure to capture, analyze and provide that information in interpretable form to support real-time decision-making throughout the company and at the board table and doing business with other digital-savvy companies.

Along that line, global communication networks are in place to connect everyone and everything, and the ubiquitous...

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