Sep 14, 2020

Technology in the Board Room - The Tech-Enabled CIO Strategy

Deloitte
Leadership
Strategy
Paddy Smith
2 min
Deloitte CIO Insights
Deloitte CIO Insights: Positive Relationships to Technology and the CIO's Corporate Role is vital for the future success of high-performing organisation...

When analysts at Deloitte were mining their latest Global Technology Leadership Study for performance-related factors, one stood out. The CIOs of the high performing organisations were disproportionately likely to have a “strong positive relationship” with the board of directors.

Those companies were also more likely to have board members with a background in technology.

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Noting that these relationships are “typically not a natural, everyday occurrence” the analysts suggest the dynamic is forged by “an intentional act driven by tech leaders than requires purposeful planning and effort.”

But to what end?

Large-scale digital and technology transformation is attractive to tech leaders and boards. It’s bold, visionary and can act as a bandwagon for more diverse strategic goals. That, in turn, informs priorities, decisions and investments. High performing companies are using technology to drive not just technological transformation but wider, more far-reaching systemic change.

Benefits of an alliance between tech leadership and boards

The analysts found three principle benefits of an alliance between tech leadership and boards.

1. Foundation of trust to pursue a bold vision in order to chase aggressive strategic goals.

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2. Ongoing opportunities for engagement, deepening relationships, engendering trust and allowing education and engagement of directors on technology and its benefits.

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3. Balanced oversight across resilience issues and growth opportunities, allowing continuity of growth pursuit during times of economic uncertainty.

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Technology: “a key lever for corporate performance”

Deliotte’s analysts recommend CIOs and tech leaders who want to pursue a deeper relationship with the board consider finding more creative ways to express the benefits of technology across the organisation. In addition, boards will need to become more tech savvy.

They developed a set of seven questions to guide CIOs and tech leaders pursuing a stronger relationship with the board of directors.

1. What are the governance guidelines for technology investments?

2. What percentage of technology spend is fixed cost?

3. How much technical debt do we have?

4. Will the current technology operating model and culture support future strategy?

5. How do we compare to our competition?

6. What technology capabilities can help reimagine the future of our work and the workplace?

7. What are the key obstacles in attracting and engaging top technology talent?

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Aug 1, 2021

Who Will Be the Next Tech Giant to Back Bitcoin?

Bitcoin
Apple
Microsoft
Amazon
Simon Chandler, Writer at Cryp...
4 min
Simon Chandler from Cryptovantage discusses Bitcoin in the technology sector and discusses rumours around which tech giant will be next to buy it,

PayPal was the first truly major tech giant to throw its weight behind Bitcoin, unveiling a cryptocurrency buying-and-selling service in October. Next was Tesla, which shocked onlookers in February by announcing the purchase of $1.5 billion in bitcoin, as well as plans to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.

 Since then, things have calmed down as far as Big Tech and Bitcoin are concerned (although a number of banks have rolled out cryptocurrency investment services for their wealthier clients). This raises the question: when will another significant tech firm take the plunge and back bitcoin?

This is a difficult question to answer, if only because the bitcoin market is in something of a funk right now. At the same time, regulators worldwide are looking to restrict crypto in the name of curbing money laundering and other illicit activities. Nonetheless, rumours continue to swirl through the sector that a few other important names in the tech industry may be on the cusp of embracing bitcoin, with Apple being the most notable.

Is Apple Buying Bitcoin?

If you tend to spend any amount of time on Crypto Twitter, you may be aware of rumours to the effect that Apple has recently bought something in the region of $2.5 billion in bitcoin.

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Such rumours were almost certainly a desperate attempt to boost the price of bitcoin. And given that the market didn’t witness a sudden, dramatic rise (but rather a steep loss), it seems pretty clear that Apple didn’t buy a substantial quantity of bitcoin in the past few weeks or so.

That said, there remains a good chance that Apple will enter the cryptocurrency sector at some point, even if it won’t be adventurous enough to buy crypto for itself. Back in May, it placed a job ad for a business development manager for “alternative payments.” 

Such a manager would be tasked with cultivating partnerships with “strategic alternative payment providers,” implying that Apple may be weighing up the possibility of launching its own cryptocurrency-purchasing service (à la PayPal) via Apple Pay.

Needless to say, it would be huge for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency if the Cupertino company were to follow through with this.

Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook?

Rumours have also revolved around possible bitcoin interest from Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, although there’s a little less substance to most of these rumours.

Back in October former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Raoul Pal predicted that Microsoft (along with Apple) would buy bitcoin in five years. Unfortunately, a CNN interview with Microsoft’s Brad Smith in February (shortly after Tesla’s bitcoin purchase) revealed that the company had no plans to purchase crypto, although Smith vaguely hinted that it might one day change its collective mind.

More interestingly, Amazon purchased three cryptocurrency-related domain names back in 2017: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com. Nothing has been heard since then, while a job listing from February of this year revealed that the retail giant may be planning to launch its very own digital currency.

Facebook is another tech firm with plans for its own digital currency (Diem, formerly known as Libra). As for whether it’s likely to turn to bitcoin, a few relatively respected figures within the cryptocurrency industry (e.g. Alistair Milne) did spread rumours in April that the social media company would disclose bitcoin holdings on its Q1 financial statement. This didn’t happen, although Mark Zuckerberg did reveal in May that one of his pet goats is called “Bitcoin,” fuelling further speculation as to his and his firm’s interest in the cryptocurrency.

Risks and Rewards of Cryptocurrency

Again, it’s arguable that some or most of the rumours are generated largely to pump crypto prices. But if bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do continue to appreciate in value and attract more adoption, it will become increasingly harder for large tech companies to ignore them.

But at the moment, it’s likely that most major tech firms will shy away from actually buying bitcoin, if only because it remains highly volatile and unpredictable as an asset. And as we saw with Tesla, buying a massive chunk of the cryptocurrency effectively turns you into a hedge fund overnight, something which can adversely affect your stock price if bitcoin goes down.

 Even so, there’s clearly a considerable amount of money tied up in the cryptocurrency market. And with numbers of holders growing every year, it’s only a matter of time before other big tech firms attempt to siphon off some of this value for themselves.

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