As technology permeates new products and services across industries as diverse as retail, media, manufacturing and financial services, companies ought to appoint more CIOs to their boards of directors. IT-based products are the very future of business. Boards hold the heart of a company in their hands. They have to understand this stuff.\n\tAs recruiter Linda Hodges told me, healthcare companies get it and are bringing CIOs onto their boards. They \u201crecognize that technology is a huge part of their responsibility,\u201d Hodges says. The corporate CIO mightpresent information\u00a0to the board but often that\u2019s not enough to go on, she says. Hodges leads the IT practice at recruiting company Witt\/Kieffer. \u201cSometimes boards are asked to approve purchases and initiatives and if there aren\u2019t members on the board who understand IT, they\u2019re making decisions in a vacuum.\u201d\u00a0\n\tI\u2019ve seen a few companies add some smart CIOs to their boards lately. Fossil, which makes watches and other accessories,\u00a0addedTom Nealon, former CIO at J.C. Penney, to its board.\u00a0Fossil just became a $2 billion company, made a strategic acquisition and plans to expand substantially its global business. Nealon\u2019s enviable experience with transition and fast growth will help Fossil maintain its momentum. Nealon has also been on the board at Southwest Airlines since 2010. Southwest cites Nealon\u2019s IT expertise and experience in planning and corporate strategy as key.\u00a0\n\tC. Martin Harris, CIO and chief strategy officer at The Cleveland Clinic, joined the board of Thermo Fisher Scientific in March. He\u2019s on two other boards--a healthcare consulting company and a medical equipment maker.\n\tThere\u2019s a lot at stake. Martha Heller, president of Heller Search Associates and a CIO.com blogger,\u00a0says boards miss opportunities by not including CIOs. As IT runs ever deeper through a company, risk management becomes that much more intertwined with technology, she writes. Boards have to understand thoroughly the risks a company faces. Plus, CIOs have a broad view of how a company works. \u201cThere is no part of the business the CIO does not know intimately,\u201d she writes. \u201cThat's a pretty powerful perspective to have on a board.\u201d\n\tOf course, CIOs get some excellent career-enhancing experience out of a board position. Some companies pay directors well for their special knowledge, too. Southwest paid Nealon $100,511 last year.\u00a0\n\tOther examples:\u00a0\n\t\n\t\tThe transportation company YRC Worldwide swept its board clean last summer, after a financial restructuring that helped it avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The group of new directors includes James Hoffman, former CIO at MCI Communications and a 30-year IBM veteran. YRC paid him $92,927 last year for his technology and operations expertise.\u00a0\n\t\n\t\tRob Carter, CIO at FedEx, has been on the board at First Horizon National since 2007, where he made $155,000\u00a0last year for his directorship.\u00a0He also served on the board at retailer Sak\u2019s, which paid him $159,000 in 2010,\u00a0the latest year for which documents are available.\u00a0\n\t\n\t\tDoreen Wright, retired CIO of Campbell Soup, last year joined the board of Croc\u2019s, which makes those plastic clogs you see everywhere this time of year. Croc\u2019s paid her $163,913 last year.\u00a0\n\n\tRobert Dixon, global CIO of PepsiCo, earned $44,275 as a board member for WellPoint last year. Dixon joined the board in June 2011, too late to get Wellpoint\u2019s annual stock award for board members, which was $250,000 last year.\u00a0WellPoint is diving into several business development plans anchored in IT. It is launching a system to let patients use mobile devices to hold video conferences with nurses and partnering with IBM to use the Watson supercomputer to analyze data on treatment plans. I bet Dixon will get a fat stock award this year.\n\tBut here\u2019s the big question: Why don\u2019t companies put their own CIOs on their boards?