How CIOs Can Catch the Board's Ear

Telling IT's story to the board of directors requires a business focus, a strong narrative and even a little humor.

Three IT leaders share their strategies for telling the technology story to the board of directors. In short, you need to be focused, compelling and straightforward -- and a little humor doesn't hurt.

Focus on the Business Pain Points

Kent Mills, CIO, Wakefield Canada: As a privately owned company, Wakefield Canada has an advisory board of seasoned executives who offer us an unbiased perspective on how we're running our fast-growing business. While they might not technically have the power of a public board, they play a critical role, and you ignore their valuable input at your own risk.

I communicate with these advisers in much the same way as I do with our senior leadership team, though at a slightly higher level. Whether it's plans for our upcoming ERP implementation or mobile CRM solution, I focus on what the pain points are in our organization and the methods we can use to soothe them, such as streamlining processes or implementing paperless signup for new customers.

There's a tendency to want to prove you're the smartest technologist in the room, but the real value is in proving how your work directly affects business objectives. That's why we call our team Business Technology, not Information Technology.

Even though I'm not looking for a yea or a nay from the board, I treat it as if I am. It's been beneficial to build relationships with board members outside of the quarterly meetings, engaging them in business and technology discussions at events or conferences. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, and I want to take full advantage of it.

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