The extent to which technology differentiates a business from its competitors can be viewed on a sliding scale. On one end technology innovations and improvements simply ensure that a company “stays in the game,” while at the other extreme, technology acts as a critical source of value creation and enhancement.
If technology serves simply to keep a company in the game, the board probably doesn’t need to be actively involved in the day-to-day management of technology decisions and should delegate this responsibility to the executive management. But as businesses derive a more direct or significant part of their inherent value from technology, they’ll need access to independent experts with deep understanding of technology as a key driver of the company’s fundamental value proposition—people who can check and challenge management’s recommendations.
Indeed, for companies whose core value and viability crucially depend on getting technology bets right, technology decisions should probably fall squarely to the board which arguably should have at least one member with the appropriate depth and breadth in the field.