Research reported in yesterday’s Financial Times shows a surprising lack of digital and technology experience amongst the directors of financial institutions. According to the report, fully half of the 109 largest banks in the world have no-one on the board with significant technology expertise, and another quarter have only one such director. With cyber-security much in the news of late, this should be alarming for customers. The truth is less sensational, though perhaps even more alarming for shareholders.
Cyber-security is clearly a major concern but, in fact, it represents only a small fraction of the ways in which technological advances have affected the business landscape. In reality, there are very few areas where new and better technology does not have the potential to transform productivity and decision making, if business leaders are alert to the possibility.
And it is not just banks that suffer, but businesses in all sectors. At Metapraxis, we’ve been busy preparing for this year’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Barcelona – an event that we are sponsoring – and it is noticeable how few finance and operational leaders, let alone non-executives and chairmen, are signed up to attend. Of course, IT professionals are very much the target audience for the event, but the point is that IT executives are now only one of the many different types of professionals who are affected by technology. Yet many business leaders are clearly still content to treat technology as the sole responsibility of the CIO and their team.
Ten or even five years ago, that wouldn’t have been a cause for comment, but there is now no function in the modern business that is not affected by technology in some way. Even in industries that have not been disrupted in an obvious manner, technology, and analytics in particular, has transformed the competitive landscape.
The financial, market and economic data that govern business success have not changed, but its volume and velocity has increased dramatically. And analytics technology means that business leaders now have access to vastly more insight into that data than has ever been the case in the past.
The traditional skills of finance professionals and business leaders in understanding markets and economics are far from redundant, but modern business analytics is able to significantly augment those skills. This makes it possible for leaders to build a more acute understanding of what drives value in a business than has ever been possible in the past. The leaders who take advantage of that are those who will succeed in the years to come.