Technology is quickly changing how businesses function from a structural level all the way to the boardroom. In fact, almost every company these days could be considered a technology company because in some way, shape or form, businesses today are completely reliant on technology and how their business operates. Furthermore, digital transformation is continuing to impact beyond just the organization and boards of directors are now becoming fully reliant on boardroom technology.
While there is no concrete definition for boardroom technology because there are many different interpretations of what would be included in that category, a wide reaching explanation could be any type of technology that is used within the boardroom. This could include smart TVs, smart phones, tablets, web conferencing tools and even email solutions. However, a more finite breakdown would be any sort of technology that enables boards of directors to improve performance and governance with the help of new technologies that are built around a core suite of tools.
Board portals, while not the most globally used boardroom technology, is a technology that has grown to be the most versatile tool that a board of directors can use to not only prepare for board meetings, but to also collaborate, communicate and execute on action items after the meeting. Board portals have become relied on because they allow boards to digitize their board book needs in order to securely annotate and share documents in real-time no matter where in the world they are trying to conduct the work from. All notes and communication can safely happen in this virtual meeting space to ensure that the board of directors has all the right technology and information at their fingertips. Board portals are evolving at a rapid pace and because of that the necessary features have expanded to grow around the governance needs of the board; however, it is important to remember that not all board portals are created equally and finding the right solution for your board of directors is essential to ensure that every aspect of their job is supported in this key technology.
It is much easier to define what technology is not considered secure communication than it is to define what is secure. What would fall in the not secure category would be email, WhatsApp, web conferencing and file sharing services, which are all susceptible to a variety of cyber risks and are some of the more popular communication methods in global board rooms. The cyber risks aside, these communication methods are also not as collaborative as they could be and leave some room for interpretation, which also creates the cybersecurity risks. Boards should instead be looking to use certain secure messaging tools that has end-to-end encryption and can ensure that the technology is not penetrable and can only be accessed by the individual. There are not a plethora of these tools that do exists, but boards need to be aware of the inherent risks that certain technologies contain and ensure that their board is using the right technology to ensure high-level and risk-sensitive materials are protected properly.
An annual assessment of the performance of a board of directors can help to identify gaps that can be planned for through board succession planning, improve overall operations and strengthen the relationship that the board has to overall good governance. Going through an assessment benefit every board directors, shareholders, managers, the organization and, ultimately, clients and customers.
Boards that struggle with ineffective board evaluations often enlist the help of a professional facilitator or governance expert to conduct their board evaluations. This can be an expensive approach – especially if you have a global business where assessments may not be required and services may be harder to find. Diligent’s board assessment tools put the control of the process with the board administrator, who has the flexibility to modify the process to gain the maximum benefit from the evaluations.
Filing out D&O questionnaires not only help with compliance but the can be a valuable tool for the directors of a board. Digital D&O can make the process even more beneficial and improve accuracy and timeliness. Corporate Secretaries can easily customize all of the questions on the questionnaires to make sure that the company is accurately disclosing information. This makes it easy for the General Counsel to review the questionnaire and make sure that it meets their approval. Corporate Secretaries can set up Diligent’s D&O questionnaire so that respondents only see the questions that apply to them, unlike a paper questionnaire, where directors, officers and shareholders have to skip past questions that don’t apply to them. Board administrators should be looking for D&O technology that can better facilitate boardroom procedures and expedite conflict of interest processes.
Board management software became powerful in large part due to the advent of the iPad and tablets. As more and more organizations look to digital transformation as a way of engaging more closely with their consumers and as part of a larger risk oversight process, technology in the board room helps to set the right example for other leaders within the company. iPads and other tablet devices have made it so that the formerly cumbersome – and environmental unfriendly – board binders many older directors are familiar with are no longer needed. Corporate secretaries don’t need to keep aware of the time for the next post office pickup or worry when a change is made that all directors won’t receive their updates. Instead, changes can be made to board books instantaneously and sent to directors in seconds. Especially since the right tools can help you prevent risks.
Thanks to these digital tool, technology in the boardroom is evolving to include other tools such as those that enable easy boardroom minute taking or entity management, enabling every organization to have secure tools for communication in the boardroom and beyond.