Why Boards Must Think Differently About Today’s Digital Consumer

Episode Summary

Many of today’s directors are challenged by the board’s growing responsibility to oversee ‘digital,’ which has come to represent everything from customer experience and technology transformation to cybersecurity. In this episode of Inside America’s Boardrooms, Alex Schmelkin, board member with Essendant and founder & CEO of Cake & Arrow, not only defines ‘digital’ for today’s boards, but outlines ways in which boards must begin to shift their approach to strategy and risk.

“Digital, as a word, has become this all-encompassing thing,” said Schmelkin, “and in a way, it’s actually lost a lot of its meaning. I’d ask the directors to think about this great intersection between sales, marketing, technology, and customer service—all coming together and focusing on a single point.”

In this ten-minute segment, Host TK Kerstetter asks Schmelkin an interesting question: If you could design a digital training program for today’s board members, what would it look like?

Any business, no matter what industry you’re in, you need to start thinking and acting like a retailer and moving at the speed of a retailer…I’d invite board members (who are thinking about what ‘digital’ means) to figure out ways in their businesses to identify: “What does it mean to accelerate? What does it mean to think about risk differently?”
— Alex Schmelkin, Board Member with Essendant & CEO of Cake & Arrow

Since Schmelkin joined the Essendant board in his 30s, he also weighs in on the topic of tenure. How should boards approach refreshment or term limits when next-gen directors have another 30-40 years of board service ahead?

About Alex Schmelkin: Alex joined the board of Essendant in 2012. He currently chairs the Technology Advisory committee and is a member of the compensation committee. Alex is the founder and CEO of Cake & Arrow, an end-to-end digital products and services agency headquartered in New York City.

About Inside America’s Boardrooms: Inside America’s Boardrooms is a weekly web show produced by Boardroom Resources and hosted by TK Kerstetter. For more information about the various content formats supported by Boardroom Resources, click here.

Insights from Another CEO and Next Gen Director

Michael Steib with XO Group

Michael Steib is an outside board member with Ally Financial and the CEO of XO Group Inc., a multi-media company that’s created several well-known online platforms including The Knot, The Bump, and The Nest. In his episode, Steib discusses the important role of human capital at today’s companies.