Around 30 years ago, the idea of an electronic boardroom would sound like something that existed only in science fiction novels, and not in the reality of business. But that’s not the case today. Technology has come a long way in turning impossible concepts into practical solutions.
Surprisingly, in spite of the convenience, security and other advantages offered by paperless meetings, many corporate boards still choose to go with traditional paper-based board meetings. It’s what directors have always done in the past, so they don’t necessarily feel the need to switch to something new. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as a popular idiom goes.
But are paper-based board meetings indeed ‘ain’t broke’? Just because something has been done the same way for so long doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon. In fact, in this digital age, using paper for board meetings is increasingly becoming impractical, wasteful, and even dangerous because of these reasons:
Lack of security
Board meeting documents printed on paper and bound into books have always been used to disseminate crucial information to directors. But a paper board pack isn’t secure in any way. It can be misplaced in public places or stolen from a director’s bag. Someone can tear out a page or two, and no one’s the wiser until it’s too late. There’s no preventive measure to guard against unauthorized access and no warning system to alert directors after a security breach happens. On the other hand, an electronic board pack is protected by stringent security whether it’s in storage or in transmission. Also, anyone unauthorized to access it will have to go through multiple security levels. When the password-guessing is detected, the system automatically purges sensitive information.
Waste of resources
Directors need to go through a lot of materials 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’s just for one meeting alone. It’s not environment-friendly to do this over a long period of time especially when there are more sustainable solutions, like using iPads 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.
Printed board packs can’t be changed in real time once they’re already sent in the mail. As a result, directors don’t get the updates they need to know before they join a board meeting. This often results in confusion, which does nothing but put the board meeting into overtime. Time is wasted, and so is money if the meeting venue is located outside the office and rented by the hour. But with an electronic board pack, notifications about updates are directly sent in real-time to directors’ mobile devices. They’ll instantly get the information wherever and whenever.
Slave to schedule
Directors are busy people running their own companies and/or serving on other boards when they’re not attending board meetings. Getting all of them — or at least a quorum — to agree on board meeting schedule can be difficult, particularly if they’re living in different places that are far enough from each other to warrant travel expenses on flights and overland 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.
With today’s technology, it doesn’t make sense to put up with all these obstacles. Nowadays, paperless board meetings are the way to go. With the help of a reliable boardroom software such as Convene, a board meeting application 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 the 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.