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FTSE 350 boards lack technology expertise

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Only a minority of FTSE 350 companies have a dedicated digital or technology representative on their board

Only 2% of FTSE 350 companies have a dedicated digital or technology representative on their board, according to a report from interim management and executive search consultant Russam GMS.

Tech-tonic Shifts: Meeting the technology challenge in UK boardrooms found that only eight FTSE 350 companies include a dedicated digital or technology specialist, such as a chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO), on their board.

Analysis of all FTSE 350 board members found that 125 companies have someone with a declared technology background or experience sitting on their board, but this still only constituted 36%.

Cathy Kay, an associate director at Russam GMS, said companies without a digital expert on their board could find themselves struggling to cope with change.

“We are not advocating for each and every company to appoint a CTO to their board immediately,” she explained. “But the direction of travel has been set and those who stand to benefit in the longer term are already planning how to make the most of technology today.

“These are startling statistics. Many FTSE 350 companies will have a chief information or technology officer somewhere in their ranks, but the fact that only a handful have one on the board begs all sorts of questions about the ability of businesses to drive effective and lasting technological change.”

The report makes a number of recommendations to help both boards and businesses ensure they are ready to embrace technological change, including building a pipeline of tech talent and establishing a digital transformation committee to help rationalise, define and design a technology strategy.

Kay added that businesses should take a dynamic approach to technology expertise on boards. “The greatest ideas in the world mean nothing without the vision and will to apply them,” she said. “A business cannot just appoint a CTO or CIO and give him or her a budget and a mandate to get on with it; the board and the wider company has to be ready to accept them.”