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Technophobic CEOs

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"How technology companies fail executives" - ICT 2007

CEOs of the world's largest companies are struggling to keep pace with the impact of digital technology and many are being left behind, placing their corporations at risk in the medium to longer term. Their own senior teams also lack basic IT skills and understanding, without which they cannot steer their corporations into the next millennium. Despite this, corporations are failing to address the problem.

These are the conclusions of a survey of forty-nine global 100 companies published on June 24, 1998, by the Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre (Switzerland) and ADVANCE: Management Training Ltd. (UK). The research surveys how the global 100 companies "define, measure, nurture and reward" technology competence in their "top teams", e.g. the five to ten most senior executives in these companies (Chairman, President, CEO, Executive Directors).

This report was featured in The Times 14 December 1998.

"The degree of incompetence is staggering", said report author Prabhu Guptara. "Many CEOs are afraid of computers, some are unable even to read their own e-mail without help. Only a minority use the Internet or company Intranets regularly, while more than 25% entirely avoid using either."

"Many CEOs and other senior team members are out of touch with the virtual world in which their companies increasingly are operating. Most companies surveyed have no IT training initiative for senior teams and no formal definition of IT competency."

"88% are doing nothing to introduce IT competence to senior executives which means the problem is going to become a crisis, with bad decisions made by those who should know better, and very frustrated middle managers."

Dr Patrick Dixon, director of Global Change commented: "These technophobic CEOs are a threat to corporate survival."

Practical steps proposed in the report include:

  1. Training for senior team members and CEOs regarding the impact of IT on business-boundaries
  2. Inclusion of boardroom in move to paperless office
  3. Business TV channel on intranet to keep all staff updated in an accessible way
  4. Integration of latest IT tools into every aspect of company decision-making

All 100 CEOs of companies named in the "1996 Global 100 Companies" were sent surveys by e-mail, fax or phone. 49 responded with information about their "top teams" (top 5 - 10 people within the company).

Professor Prabhu S. Guptara is Group Director, Organisational Learning & Transformation, based at the Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre, and non-executive Chairman of ADVANCE: Management Training Ltd. He is Visiting Professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, as well as other universities and business schools.

The research, which was conducted by Prabhu Guptara is jointly published by ADVANCE: Management Training Ltd., UK, and the Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre (a Member of the UBS Group), Switzerland.

Full copies of the report are available to members of the public at SFr 195.-, UK£ 95.- or US$ 125.- (ISBN 0 9513089 X X). Copies are AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS OF THE PRESS FREE OF CHARGE.

For more information or interviews please contact:

Prof. Prabhu S. Guptara
Group Director, Organisational Learning & Transformation
Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre
CH-8272 Ermatingen phone: 071 663 56 05 fax: 071 663 55 90


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