In between EDANZ conference lectures I attended the IOD/Connect NZ function around the subject of “Governance for Hi Tech businesses”.

Wayne Norrie, CEO from Revera started out by giving his view on what a great thing an independent Board of Directors is for any HiTech startup. This was then backed up by Rick Bettle, Chairman of his Board.

Not being one afraid to argue I mentioned the fact that it seems incredible that organisations are trying to convince young, dynamic startup entrepreneurs to take on Boards of Directors, only to be told that the available pool of candidates has a lawyer who knows meet, an accountant who knows butter and other such vital IT industry knowledge basis.

Both Rick and Wayne unsurprisingly disagreed with my viewpoint saying that an in depth understanding of the IT industry is not a prerequisite to being a good board member of an IT company.

To this my reply was that an in depth knowledge of the particular niche of the entity may not be a requirement, but it is my strong contention that an understanding of the paradigm within which technology companies operate IS a prerequisite.

Both Rick and Wayne pushed the line that the most important thing is having the vision and the experience to scale and grow businesses rapidly which, of course, is impossible to disagree with.

I still firmly believe however that we should be looking to create a new generation of leaders who combine an excellent understanding of commerce, best practice governance and business scaling, alongside an understanding of the paradigm of It business. the fact that networks are king, that building a community is paramount, that new and completely different revenue models are called into play, and that the rate of change and the time to exit is significantly quicker than in other industries.

I think at the end of my diatribe I got some buy-in to my point of view and I look forward to seeing (and being part of) a new generation of directors who firmly straddle the chasm between traditional business models and methodologies and the new economy models and methodologies.

Disclaimer – Rod Drury and Sam Morgan are off the hook – unquestionably they both straddle the gap already. Lets find the next few hundred of their ilk!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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