Who’s sorry now? The technology skills gap in the boardroom..

Jun 4, 2020

In 2016 Russam published a paper that highlighted the lack of technology expertise and leadership around the boardroom tables of both large and small organisations outside of the technology sector. This was motivated by the struggle we observed for Chief Technology Officers to be given the same recognition as a Chief Finance Officers when it came to remunerated board appointments.

The last year has seen rapid advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and low-cost consumer devices and access. The technology landscape continues to shift, and even more so now thanks to the power of social media platforms.

We knew that if boards continued to hire from their own network, we would see technology and digital transformation remaining as a blind spot for many organisations. We also sensed that this would lead to much greater issues. Executives that we had placed within such organisations reported major skills gaps and support in areas such as:

Innovation: Projects are commissioned but funding stops when the board fails to understand them and the return on investment.

Respect for a technology-based career: Most members of the board have professional backgrounds in finance and law or have deep sector experience.

Interest: Resistant attitude towards technology and unfamiliar with new platforms and possibilities.

Motivation to change:  Disconnected with the way society has evolved.

Lack of diversity: Not only in age, race and gender, but a distinct lack of diverse skills.

Self-awareness:  Despite the numerous disaster case studies used by many presenters on digital (Blockbuster, Kodak, Marks & Spencer) decisions still weren’t being made quickly enough. However, the EasyJet cybercrime is perhaps the most relevant current example.

Investment:  Too many investments made with little return and lack of confidence in technology and service providers.

Procurement expertise:  High expenditure on consultancy and strategy projects leading to abandoned implementations and poor image.

Digital transformation is key to post pandemic recovery

Over the past few weeks the team at Russam have been connecting with our network within Digital Consultancies to gauge their current challenges and opportunities.  They are all saying the same thing: “We are experiencing a huge demand for digital transformation – finally, after years of meetings and presentations, the penny has dropped.”

These organisations have been building digital expertise for years while constantly evolving to bring clients the technology to lead growth, sales and efficiencies.  It hasn’t always been easy. They have been competing for talent during huge skills shortages and made expensive hiring mistakes along the way.

Purchasing Decisions

As companies race towards transforming to digital first, they too are in danger of panic buying. Russam have experience of placing interim executives with digital expertise (often from the vendor community and placing them client side) to help you make the right choices.

Boardroom appointment:  Act now – remote boardroom evaluation

We are very experienced with hiring into the boardroom and deeply involved in digital transformation leadership hiring. First, consider a boardroom evaluation of technology skills to demonstrate to you exactly where the skills gap is.  Engage us to bring you the best board-level technology brains. Hire and be confident in the knowledge that when technology investments are made, you will choose wisely as a well prepared and informed Board.

Read our research study “tech-tonic” here

by Cathy Kay


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Call us on 0207 099 2222 or email HQ@russam.co.uk

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