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Boards and Technology

The competitive risk and promise of exponential technologies


The writing is on the wall. Digital technology is transforming markets and creating enormous value for the companies that master them. On the flipside, traditional tools and expertise are becoming obsolete, as are the industries and organisations too slow to adapt.

This report shares the findings of the 2014 TMS Academy’s Directors-in-Dialogue session. “Boards and Technology: The Competitive Risk and Promise of Exponential Technologies” which brought together fifty board members from leading Asian companies to address the opportunities and risks arising from technology mega-trends including the Internet of Things, digital platforms, wearable technology, social media and Artificial Intelligence.

It examines the role of boards in spotting mega-trends, identifying the implications for their organisations and navigating the enterprise through decision-making and strategy execution in an era of digital disruption.


Digital technology, once a tsunami sweeping only through high technology industries such as electronics, media and communications, is now flooding every sector and disrupting old economy industries.

In less than a generation, exponential technologies have transformed markets, creating enormous value for the companies that mastered them while destroying industries and organisations that were complacent, slow or poor decision makers. Traditional advantages that once set leading firms apart have become liabilities, turning those firms into losers in this new economic era.

The stakes are high and the pace of change rapid. Traditional tools and experience put incumbents at risk of following strategies that will fail to address new opportunities or threats. The old world approach is digging more and more trenches while the disruptive competition builds better and better missiles. It is crucial for boards to recognize that the pace of these changes mean that their organisations could be hit before their next board meeting.

Key Findings

Are discussions on disruptive technologies finally taking their place at the boardroom table, and leading decisions on strategy? This meeting of 50 board members from leading Asian companies offered some revealing insights:

  • Two-thirds viewed the impact of exponential technologies as game-changing yet fewer than one in ten felt that their organisations were well-positioned to handle.

  • The opportunity to generate significant enterprise value from exponential technologies is well-recognised with new business cited as the greatest area of potential

  • The need to take urgent action is widely acknowledged with eight out of ten participants seeing a need to act quickly – before the next board meeting.