In this digital era, many corporate boards still choose to go with traditional paper-based board meetings while using paper for board meetings is increasingly becoming impractical, wasteful, and even dangerous. Why is it important for these companies to choose digital meeting solutions? How can the age-old technology be problematic for an organisation?
Until a few decades, if not years back, the mere idea of using an electronic boardroom in an organisation would have sounded like something coming straight out of a science fiction novel. However, thanks to the rapid progress of disruptive technology in recent times, that idea is not fictional any more. In fact, digital boardroom solutions are not only a reality today but are also at the forefront of driving the digital revolution that every organsation is going through today.
In a nutshell, a board portal is an electronic workspace that lets senior executives securely access board materials, past and present, and provides functionalities for administrative staff to easily prepare and manage board meetings.
Surprisingly, in spite of the the convenience, security and other unique advantages offered by paperless meetings, many corporate boards still choose to go with traditional paper-based board meetings. In most organisations, decision makers still prefer to stick to the age-old ways of operational processes rather than embracing newer and powerful technologies. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as a popular idiom goes is what majority of organisations follow even today.
But are paper-based traditional board meetings indeed ‘ain’t broke’? Just because something has been done the same way for so long does not mean that it cannot be improved upon. In fact, in this digital era, using paper for board meetings is increasingly becoming impractical, wasteful, and even dangerous because of the following reasons:
Lack of security
Board meeting documents printed on paper and bound into books have always been used to disseminate crucial information to directors and senior executives. But a paper board pack of crucial and confidential information is not secure – it can be misplaced in public places or stolen from a person’s bag. Someone can tear out a page or two, and no one’s the wiser until it is too late. There is no preventive measure to guard against unauthorized access and no warning system to alert directors after a security breach has already happened. On the other hand, an electronic board pack is protected by stringent security whether it’s in storage or in transmission. Also, in order to access it, everyone will have to go through multiple security levels and checks. When password-guessing or any other potential security breach is detected, the system automatically purges sensitive information.
Waste of resources
Directors need to go through a lot of material before they attend a board meeting. Thus, a printed board pack can be anywhere from 40 pages to 500 pages (or more), depending on the kind of information that needs to be reviewed. The thicker the board pack and the bigger the corporate board, the more paper is used up — and that is just for one meeting alone. It is not environment-friendly to do this over a long period of time especially when there are more sustainable and environment-friendly solutions, like using iPads or other digital tools for board meetings. When directors use their iPads, an electronic board pack can be as thick as it needs to be, yet not a single page of paper will be wasted. Digital meeting solutions can help organisations go green and implement business processes that are sustainable and environment-friendly.
Printed board packs cannot be changed in real time once they are dispatched via mail. As a result, directors do not get any updates they need to know before they join the board meeting. This often results in confusion, which delays the board meeting and prevents all the agenda items to be covered. Not only is time wasted, but also money especially if the meeting venue is located outside the office premises. But with an electronic board pack, notifications about updates are sent real-time to directors’ mobile devices so that they are apprised of the same regardless of where they are.
Slave to schedule
Directors are busy running their own companies or serving on other boards when they are not attending meetings. Getting all of them — or at least a quorum — to agree on a board meeting schedule can be difficult, particularly if they are located in different geographies that warrant travel expenses on flights and transportation. But with the help of iPads, directors can view and follow presentations even when they’re miles away. Thus, a director on vacation in the Caribbean can still join a board meeting without sacrificing his personal time (not that he wants to!)
Today, it does not make sense to put up with all these obstacles and follow processes that are almost ancient. Technology now provides us with digital meeting solutions and paperless board meetings are the way to go. With the help of a reliable boardroom software such as Convene, a board meeting solution that runs on the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, directors will have more flexibility, productivity, and security. The board portal — a.k.a. the electronic boardroom — effectively replaces the traditional boardroom, allowing directors to enjoy mobility on top of all other benefits. Instead of going to one place to attend a board meeting, directors can join from wherever they are without having to get on a plane or a train.