Mark Edge, RVP of Sales & Managing Director UK at Brainloop, discusses why the digital revolution should begin in the boardroom.

From finance and banking to publishing and journalism, the rise of digital business has transformed every industry. To survive and thrive, financial institutions have raced to build new strategies better suited to our ultra-connected world. Yet this drive to squeeze every drop of competitive advantage from digital has left boardrooms untouched.

While individual board members are undoubtedly becoming more tech-savvy, boardroom methodologies and workflows remain firmly wedded to the past. With one in six board members over 65, and the average board member aged 57 years old, it’s perhaps not surprising that so many of today’s boards remain resolutely analogue in an accelerating digital world.

This has resulted in huge amounts of time and money being burnt by slow and inefficient workflows. It’s been reported that FTSE 100 and 250 companies are spending up to £40,000 developing and distributing printed board books on an annual basis. The costs of such a traditional approach to board materials can quickly spiral when you factor in secretarial time, administration costs, print production and courier costs in preparation for the average board meeting.

This traditional approach isn’t just costly and inefficient, it’s poorly adapted to the needs of modern financial businesses. Today’s board directors aren’t restricted to a central location – like everyone else in the digital world, they rely on mobile connectivity and remote access to do business on-the-go. In an environment of intense global competition, board directors need to be able to make decisions quickly, in the midst of a hectic schedule, anywhere and anytime.

Making the boardroom digital

Mark Edge, VP of Sales and Country Manager UK, Brainloop
Mark Edge, VP of Sales and Country Manager UK, Brainloop

It’s time to drag the boardroom into the 21st Century. With a secure, web-based workspace designed specifically for board directors and executives, it’s possible to dramatically cut boardroom expenditure while boosting flexibility and efficiency.

In today’s connected world, it doesn’t matter if your board directors are scattered across multiple time-zones because a digital workspace ensures confidential papers always remain at their fingertips – securely accessible from anywhere, at any time and on any device. A digital boardroom also accelerates crucial decision-making by allowing financial directors to vote on issues online, from anywhere, at the same or different times. Of course, these digital capabilities also need to be easy-to-use; directors can’t afford to waste valuable time wrestling with complex systems.

Meanwhile, automated solutions for administration, workflows and document collaboration make the digital boardroom far more efficient. Corporate secretaries can quickly and cost-effectively create and distribute board books, notify directors of changes, or update and amend documents in real-time. In particular, by simplifying the process of revising multiple versions of the same document, boards are far more capable of responding quickly to urgent items.

Going paperless

Given the confidential nature of most financial board documents, it’s also essential to question whether printed materials are secure enough. Unlike the encrypted and traceable documents in a digital boardroom, printed board papers can be left anywhere or read by anyone. Printing gives only the illusion of security, with 63% of businesses admitting to experiencing one or more print-related data breaches.

With the average cost of data breaches surging from £850,000 in 2013 to £1.5m last year, every financial institution should consider the enormous security benefits digital boardrooms present, since all documents are stored in a central, secure vault protected by strict access controls. This is particularly true in the finance and banking world that’s seeing ever stricter documentation and compliance requirements. To achieve this, digital boardrooms automatically create a tamper-proof audit trail of all user actions, as well as archiving copies of every document for later scrutiny.

Revolutionising the boardroom

Whether directly or indirectly, every business is now a digital business. If directors are to help their organisations successfully navigate today’s digital rapids, they need to harness the potential of digital to drive cost-savings and efficiencies in the boardroom itself. To that end, it’s time for every financial institution to bring the digital revolution home and ask if the existing boardroom is really smart enough.

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