Today’s CEOs face increasing complexity at every turn. Entire business models are changing, seemingly overnight, in response to disruptive technologies that can change an industry quickly.

Technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, Big Data, data analytics, cloud computing, augmented reality and the Internet of Things have dramatically changed the way stakeholders and shareholders look at what’s expected of their CEO.

Does this mean that the modern CEO needs to be fully adept and focused on information technology? Or can the corner office occupants rely on other c-suite leaders to stay on top of the latest and greatest that could make an impact?

What Level of Technical Knowledge Must a CEO Possess?

The answer as to how much technology and which technologies the CEO needs to know varies among industries and companies. However, technology disruption is playing a predominant role across the board. That means you need a CEO who knows more about technologies than ever before.

“Think of the CEO as a conductor of an orchestra – they need to understand how all the pieces work together and bring them together to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts,” writes entrepreneur and consultant Bernie Klinder in Forbes. “It is certainly helpful if the conductor can play more than one instrument, and very helpful if they are very familiar with every instrument, but the conductor doesn’t need to know how to play each instrument in the orchestra.

Increasingly, technology is driving multiple areas of your business, including those that traditionally would not be considered “techy.” Marketing strategies rely on data about how customers and prospects respond to messages. Human resources departments use technology to scan resumes and crawl the web for potential employees. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions integrate data and reporting from the warehouse to accounting to the manufacturing floor.

If your CEO is not adept at technology concepts and drivers, your company is going to fall behind the competition.

How Can a CEO Rely on Senior Executives?

Without question, the chief information officer, chief technology officer, chief cybersecurity officer and other principals continue to play a significant role in sharing technology trends, products and opportunities. However, they need to have confidence that the CEO can make informed decisions with an understanding and comfort in emerging tech.

The challenge for many small- and medium-sized businesses is that there is no chief technology officer. That’s when you need a trusted partner to provide the guidance and insights a CEO needs to be strategic.

What Can CEOs Do to Become More Tech-Savvy?

Here are a few suggestions for CEOs seeking to become more tech-aware:

  • Create a base. Be sure that you understand the fundamentals of the core technologies driving your industry and how they represent threat and opportunity.
  • Use a framework. Build an operational framework where you can organize and prioritize the myriad data points, news reports, analyses and recommendations.
  • Keep the focus on the customer. Technology can provide new bells and whistles but increasingly, technology is the means by which customers engage and interact with your business.
  • Find a trusted partner. Your business needs the right advice, insights and guidance to be successful.

At CIO Advise, we help businesses with CEO advisory services and innovative IT services. To learn more about how CIO Advise can help you lead your business through digital transformation, contact us today for a free, initial, no-obligation consultation.