Russell Reynolds Associates: Digital NEDs

There has been a growing trend among boards to appoint non-executive directors (NED’s) who have a digital background. Russell Reynolds spoke to experienced UK chairs of boards in a range of companies who have already taken steps in this direction to find out what type of NEDs have been appointed. What difference have they made to the board’s effectiveness and modus operandi?

The findings suggest boards and companies have a long journey ahead of them when it comes to embracing digital. The distinction between a ‘digital’ NED and other NEDs is rapidly becoming an artificial one. Appointing a digital NED certainly changes the board dynamic, but the journey doesn’t end there.

There are many different ways in which someone might be considered ‘digital’. From a technology perspective, executives may be more or less familiar with cloud, social, mobile, big data and analytics, as well as digital media and eCommerce. There is also a distinction between individuals from a specific technology role and those who have grown up in other functions, with the former often regarded as too narrow in outlook. As businesses and business people become more digital the distinction between a NED and a digital NED is becoming blurred.

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