A couple of decades ago, if you asked even the most tech-savvy board members what an e-board meeting was, or what sort of meeting management software they used, they wouldn’t have a clue about what you were talking about. However, it seems as if the adoption of such technologies came as quickly as globalization and digitalization transformed the workforce. In 2017, every CTO and consultant worth a dime would be familiar with a number of board portal providers, while more and more organizations are finding different ways to maximize use of such technology. Interestingly, boards are developing different needs as they adapt to such digitalized meeting solutions.
But before we look into how organizations are using board portals today, let’s take a look at why there was ever a need for them at all.
Why do organizations need board meeting software?
The rise of the electronic board book was actually triggered by what Fortune Magazine once called “America’s Most Innovative Company”. Enron Corporation used to be a Wall Street darling until they got caught with debts amounting to billions of dollars. The scandal was a milestone in board portal history as it didn’t just reveal a well-planned and well-executed accounting fraud, but also the ease with which executives could pull it off and get away with it, too. It gave birth to the search for the most secure and compliant board operating system for organizations everywhere.
After a few more financial scandals, most corporations and conglomerates were looking for similar things in a board meeting solution. These needs became the backbone of every board portal provider out there, namely:
Boards were looking for an avenue to share, read, and manage board files that weren’t as easy to hack as emails, or as easy to lose as physical board books.
Access and Efficiency
While secure, all board materials had to be made available to everyone who had authorized access. It follows that said materials should be easy to access, as well, allowing:
- Directors and staff to work remotely
- Materials to sync with revisions of other board members
Streamlined Meeting Process
It’s still up for debate whether or not streamlining is the most important aspect of board portal solutions, but it can’t be denied that it’s the most revolutionary. Physical board books take a whole lot of time and effort to build. With each pack averaging 100 pages in length, and each board usually comprising of ten members and holding eight board meetings a year, that’s a total of 8000 pages to manage and pack in a year. This is under the assumption that the documents don’t require any corrections before the meeting itself, but that is hardly ever the case. Besides a more efficient board meeting preparation system, board portals cut down on both labor and paper costs, too!
And while the core needs of boards everywhere remain the same, it’s undeniable that their adaption of board portal technology has made a significant impact on how refined these needs have become. Gone are the struggles of forcing boards to use technology to collaborate. Now, they take the initiative because they’re starting to see the importance of efficient processes. Attitude changes like this are exactly what we need to highlight for 2017. And that leads us to this question…
How is board meeting software used in 2017?
As more and more organizations make use of board portals, we get a better idea of how they’re used inside and outside the boardroom. Boards maximize the use of board portals in numerous ways, mainly:
- For enhanced board mobility
- For improved security
- For unified communications
The mobile work culture is rapidly spreading, with IDC predicting we’ll hit 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020 in the United States alone. That’ll be nearly 75 percent of their entire workforce. With those numbers, it’s not surprising that that includes board members, too.
Board members read and annotate remotely, doing most of their work on mobile devices. While this is merely a convenience for many, it’s empowered some of the more geographically dispersed boards to effectively collaborate on a level they previously weren’t able to.
Of course, this sort of mobility isn’t possible without such enabled accessibility, which board members also make the most out of. Boards get to access files with or without connecting to the internet. Every file is easy to bring up as board systems such as Convene allow users to sort files and attribute them to specific meetings or folders.
It doesn’t hurt that the developed ease of access came with supremely improved security features as well. These days, boards can access their files, communicate, and collaborate with peace of mind as board meeting software includes security features such as:
- Two-factor authentication
- File encryption
- Auto–purge of offline data
- Remote data wipe
These changes have dramatically influenced the current landscape for board portal use, and they’ll undoubtedly develop even more.
As boards transition to a truly digital boardroom, board portals are used with other unified communication tools as well. Some of these include voice over IP, video, or other third-party web conferencing solutions. While mixing and matching different collaboration tools is observed in smaller, more versatile teams, boards are slowly picking it up as well as they explore other digital collaboration tools in the boardroom.
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