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The CTO of one of the biggest consulting firms says CEOs and directors are beating a path to his door to get up to speed on the latest tech trends


Bill Briggs, the global chief technology officer of Deloitte

  • Deloitte's technology consultants used to meet primarily with clients' chief technology and chief information officers.
  • But lately, they've been meeting much more frequently with CEOs and other top-level leaders who don't work in corporations' technology departments, Bill Briggs, Deloitte's global chief technology officer, told Business Insider.
  • The top leaders have come to understand how important cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are to the future of their businesses.
  • CEOs and board members also want to be up to date on the latest tech trends and how digital innovations are transforming the business landscape so they can ask informed questions and make considered decisions, he said.

It used to be that when Bill Briggs was giving an overview of the latest technologies making their way into corporate America or the technological trends that are likely to affect enterprises in coming years, his audience was mostly chief information and chief technology officers.

These days, though, Briggs, who is the chief technology officer of auditing and consulting giant Deloitte, is spending as much time talking about the digital transformation of business with clients' CEOs and board members as he is with their technology leaders.

"The biggest story for me is that technology has been elevated into the heart of business strategy," Briggs said in a recent interview with Business Insider in advance of his firm's release of its latest tech-trends report. Corporate directors and top executives, he continued, are "recognizing how critical this is."

Deloitte consultants have been meeting with CEOs and top business leaders for decades. Occasionally they'd want to meet with Briggs and his team of technology consultants too. But in the last two or so years, Briggs and his team have been meeting with CEOs and board members with increasing frequency, he said.

The CEOs and directors want to understand new technologies

The meetings typically aren't just one-hour briefs or surface overviews of the landscape, he said. Instead, the nontechnology executives and leaders want to roll up their sleeves and explore the topics Briggs covers in depth, he said.

Corporate leaders outside the information-technology department have started to understand that new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, 5G wireless technology, the internet of things, and virtual and augmented reality, are crucial to their futures, Briggs said. They've also started to see the need to be as familiar with such innovations as their technology teams, he said.

Read this:5G wireless service is coming, but don't expect it to super-charge your smartphone's internet anytime soon

Directors and CEOs want to be able to ask informed questions of their company's consultants and vendors about the products and services they're recommending and selling, Briggs said. They also want to be able to educate themselves on what's possible and real so they can push their organization to embrace change, he said.

Top corporate leaders are saying, "'Even though we need more out of our technology organizations that help lead us, we also, collectively, have the responsibility to understand deeply what's possible and what it's going to take for us to get there,'" Briggs said.

Deloitte hosted directors at CES

Deloitte's technology team isn't meeting with CEOs and directors just in corporate boardrooms and executive suites. Earlier this month, Deloitte hosted about 40 corporate directors at CES, the annual technology convention in Las Vegas. Most hadn't ever attended the show before, and Deloitte helped show them some of its highlights, focusing in particular on the convergence of consumer electronics and enterprise technologies, Briggs said.

"We did an outreach and said, 'We'll help you navigate through the chaos, but we'll also help translate [it] into what it means to be a board director and what it might mean to the entities that you represent,'" he said.

Briggs said he got something out of the event as well — a renewed sense of wonder about the giant trade show and all that's on display there.

"It's fun to see CES through first-timers' eyes again," he said.

SEE ALSO: Most companies using AI say their No.1 fear is hackers hijacking the technology, according to a new survey that found attacks are already happening

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