The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology in boardrooms with companies that had already adopted digital tools making the most seamless transition to managing and supervising their companies using internet platforms.
The observation came in a special webinar hosted by Board Agenda and Diligent exploring the ways boards use technology to become more effective.
Patrice McDonald, a non-executive with TD Bank, Allica, Davy Group and Brown Brothers, told viewers: “Those boards that were already digitally enabled switched over without skipping a beat.”
She added: “There’s no substitute for the inter-personal connections and the informal chats of a meeting but not withstanding that I’ve been astonished at how productive we have managed to be over various technology platforms and how we’ve managed to replicate most of the advantages of meeting together.”
Data and governance tools
Dottie Schindlinger, executive director of the Diligent Institute, described how digital tools for boards now encompass not only secure communications for meetings and sharing board materials but also the provision of key strategic data and governance analysis tools.
“There are so many things for directors to keep their eyes on it’s just become progressively harder to do,” said Schindlinger.
“You really need something much more nimble and more real time.”
For Isabel Aguilera, an independent director, former CEO of Google and GE in Spain and Portugal, and associate professor at ESADE, a move to digital boardroom tools during the pandemic revealed their advantages.
Less time travelling, especially for directors with international responsibilities, meant directors spent more time reading board materials, as well as allowing higher attendance and the inclusion of executives that would not usually attend board gatherings.
Aguilera added that she believed boards would move to a hybrid model with a mix of digital and in-person meetings. Overall the pandemic had “opened a door” to a successful test of available boardroom technology.
“The exchange of knowledge has been much more enriching,” she said.
This Board Agenda/Diligent webinar took place on 22 July 2021. A complete recording of the webinar is available here.