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Reducing information overload and making better decisions: The boardroom benefits of digitization

digital transformation
(Image credit: Image Credit: Konica Minolta Business Solutions UK )

In response to the rapidly changing world and workplace that businesses of all sizes are now operating in, boardrooms have had to quickly digitize and adapt to new ways of working. In fact, it was estimated that in April 2020 nearly 50% of the UK’s workforce was working from home, to some degree. For some, emailing attachments and materials pre- and post-meeting, as well as adopting video calls to carry out meetings remotely, was their first step into a new digital way of operating as the pandemic first hit. 

But for boardrooms to be more efficient and cohesive, they must continue their digital evolution – and use this as an opportunity to improve their businesses. And herein lies the problem; many boards don’t know what the benefits of digitizing are and so are hesitant to make changes.

A lack of technical know-how and buy-in, caution to try something new, security concerns and a misunderstanding that transformation isn’t a one-time fix are just some of the issues boardrooms are having to deal with in a bid to continue their digital transform – schools of thought often harbored by board members themselves. 

However, there are many benefits for the boards that continue their digitizing journey. 

Transforming from a good board into an extraordinary board 

Digitizing, especially in terms of harnessing data, can transform an adequate board into a good board, and a good board into a board that operates at an extraordinary level. How?

By embracing technology boards can empower their directors, executives and administrators to thoroughly prepare for meetings and have the most up-to-date information – information that can be in a centralized cloud portal. Doing so means board members are no longer reading materials during the meeting, or waiting on materials to be sent to them before the meeting begins. Board portals give directors and other board members one place to go to access information, as opposed to needing to keep track of multiple communications delivered in hard copy form.

And on the topic of security, digital technologies can enable boards to maintain the highest standards and governance for your organization. Data sharing, through automation, is far more secure online – flagging any GDPR discrepancies for example. 

Dealing with information overload

One of the biggest drivers of digitizing a boardroom, if not the biggest, is to better manage the deluge of information board members receive every day. Of course, it’s no surprise that some boards handle and distribute large amounts of data regularly, but this can cause information overload – especially in highly regulated industries such as the financial sector. 

digitizing further this process can make the information overload less of a mountain to climb, and accessing data far more easily. The time claimed back by board members who are digitizing their communications, and storing key information on the cloud, is huge. Especially amid testing times such as pandemics, when it is key decisions need to make extremely quickly, and emergency board meetings are more regular in occurrence.

One tool that is sure to transform boardrooms’ decision making, by reducing the information overload but simultaneously providing key insights, is through the eventual adoption of automation. For instance, automation can be programmed to track keywords or figures in documents, and to trace company spending instantaneously and without error. 

Such innovations will allow boardrooms to make key discoveries, for example whether their budget dedicated to research and development is lower than their competitors, for instance.

Data harnessed for extraordinary meetings  

It’s not just overall board effectiveness that can improve with the harnessing of data, but meetings themselves can also be transformed. 

Portals and other effective data storing processes can power productive discussions during the meeting with information streamlined, to remove the instance of people working in silos. This will also result in the board reaching a consensus on key strategic issues, with decisions made more quickly and cohesively.

Investing in technology also helps the board adopt a specific, consistent method and framework in which to share materials, structure written communications and further help the decision-making process. 

Clear, actionable agendas shared automatically ahead of the meeting will also lead to a more effective meeting from which insights can be actioned. This will also help boards adopt a clear, consistent decision-making process outside of a board meeting too. 

Benefits of digitally transforming boardrooms

Digital boardrooms will be far more effective and time-efficient, better informed and operate in a much smoother and less complicated way. Implementing systems where data and documents are stored in one centralized place removes an instance where people are working in silos, or don’t have access to the latest information. And this data can be analyzed far more effectively as a consequence, leading to more informed meetings and decision making. 

Investing in boardroom technologies can empower board members to prepare thoroughly before meetings, educate directors with data insights to inform strategic decisions, provide secure collaboration and communication, maintain governance and security applicable to the organization and access the cloud’s latest standards and services. 

Tips to digitizing a boardroom

It is important that before boards dive headfirst into a digitizing project, they understand the impacts of digital transformation on their boardroom. Recommended actions to do so include: 

  • Research the new technologies that are on the horizon
  • Have set, clear goals about what the digitization needs to improve 
  • Put proper training mechanisms in place so board members can quickly get up to speed
  • Communicate with experts and industry associations about digitizing board processes
  • Develop milestones so that the digitizing project can be kept on track

Paul Stark, General Manager, OnBoard

Paul Stark is Director at Passageways.