The Digital Age Storms the Corner Office

Info tech is so crucial to business operations today -- and so expensive -- that CEOs have no choice but to understand it

Jane Blankenship learned long ago that she had better understand technology if she wanted to get to the top and stay there. As chief operating officer at Forum Corp. in the mid-1980s -- before the personal computer was as common as a phone -- she was flung into the equivalent of a Marxism-vs.-capitalism debate when she had to decide whether to outfit the company with Apple Macs or IBM-style PCs. The CEO and board of the executive-education company -- all techno-innocents -- were considering going with Apple after being lobbied heavily by Mac evangelists who liked its user-friendliness.

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