Coming of age - how technology is revolutionising the boardroom

comment - 20 April 2018

Coming of age - how technology is revolutionising the boardroom

Having access to up to date company information is critical for directors responsible for determining strategic direction and managing day-to-day operations. If only there was a way to organise board papers in a manner that was engaging and secure whilst being functional and easy to use?

Advances in technology over the past decade have removed the need for directors to sift through monochrome reams of paper ahead of board meetings and instead present an alternative where the iPad reigns supreme. Board meetings tend to be content heavy, with conversations focused on reports and figures. However, enabling directors to digest and make comment on material before meetings, unsurprisingly promotes more fluid and effective board discussions.

Although change can be difficult to swallow and some traditionalists will undoubtedly favour a bible of documents color-coded for each topic arising, Aztec Group has witnessed a drive towards the use of hand held devices. Individual directors may need to be incentivised to transition from paper to screen, but this can be achieved through enhancing the user experience of board paper review and making it work around a director’s schedule.

Here are some of the benefits that portals are bringing to the boardroom:

  • Secure: iPads can be configured so that users can only access the data with fingerprint recognition and a password sent directly to the user’s mobile phone. With the more advanced systems, data is encrypted in ‘transit’ and at ‘rest’, providing the upmost secure operating environment

  • Training: available from service providers 24/7 in different languages.

  • Accessible: wifi and remote access can be used to access software.

  • Visually stimulating: directors can customise their dashboards to make their experience more personal.

  • Efficient: directors can review documents, approve resolutions using e-signatures and send secure emails.

  • Collaborative: directors can engage with each other using ‘chat rooms’ and comment and amend documents. 

  • Paperless: environmentally friendly and easy to transport.

To make informed decisions, boards must have a robust understanding of technology, encourage innovation, focus on delivering a solution effective for their organisation and be aware of the opportunities and risks they present. Accordingly, adopting a technological solution should be treated as a business-improvement initiative and evaluated as a long term continuous project.

Although information stored electronically can be more secure than hard copy documents, appropriate security processes and procedures need to be adopted, monitored and updated so that company data remains secure and solely accessible by those with authorised access.

Some might say that having iPads in the boardroom diverts the attention of participants to emails, market news and the weekend weather. However, with clear usage policies and a recognised and workable code of etiquette, these conflicts can be managed.

There are, with any wholesome solution, preliminary and ongoing costs involved in setting up an effective solution that will undoubtedly absorb management time in the short term but given the pace of technological advancements, wouldn’t you rather be ahead of the curve?

Change is coming and the time for discussing boardroom technology is now. How boards acclimatise to the challenges and opportunities before them will differentiate those moving forward from those stagnating. Why not add ‘technology’ to your boardroom agenda and see where it leads…

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