How to Keep the Board Current on AI and Machine Learning — Jay Millen in conversation with Shawn Banerji

4 min readAug 13, 2020
Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

Jay Millen often described as a talent steward and value creator is the managing partner of Caldwell’s CEO & Board Practice. Jay recently engaged in an interesting discussion with his colleague Shawn Banerji, Managing Partner of the Technology, Digital & Data Science Practice, about the importance of a company board to stay current on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The amount of data that is generated, by humans and machines, outpaces humans’ ability to absorb, interpret, and make complex decisions based on that data. Artificial intelligence and machine learning form the basis for all computer learning and they are the future of all complex decision making — which is why it is crucial for company boards to adapt to both these technologies.

You can watch a clip of their conversation or read it below.

“Shawn, one of the disruptors we’re seeing a lot of noise about, is the effects of AI and machine learning. What advice do you have for board members about how to stay current on these trends in AI and machine learning?”

“I think probably the best advice I could give in addition to staying literate with respect to current industry research, is to consult regularly with the CTO or whomever the dedicated technology leader is within the organization. That individual, in addition to the traditional operational accountabilities that they have, should be able to serve as almost a digital Sherpa to the board, giving them guidance and counsel on the latest trends, what the risks are, what the opportunities are, and where investments should be prioritized.”

“Given that backdrop, what advice do you have for CTO and CIO candidates as they’re meeting with boards, to really demonstrate that capability about leveraging disruptive technology, and developing a relationship with that board going forward?”

“This is really a new frontier for many functional technology practitioners. Whether you’re a more traditional operating CIO or perhaps a CTO who’s more oriented towards product development. The real key to that puzzle, to unlock the value of the relationship is first and foremost to speak in a language that the board understands. Going in with jargon, or a ‘geek speak’ approach is the first way to lose your audience before you even have had the chance to engage with them.”

“I think that what we found is, as technology can be linked to driving the desired outcomes for the business — be it operational, be it revenue, be it profit, be it compliance, whatever those hot buttons are for the organization, there is most likely a technology component to the solution. Our advice is to spend some time to understand those things. If you don’t have direct access to the board, find the appropriate intermediaries, build relationships with them, so that when you do get in front of the board, you can make it a more robust and fruitful interaction.”

“Thanks for sharing, Shawn, always a pleasure to discuss.”

Tags: Leadership Business Benefit Board of Directors Value Creator




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