About a year ago customers began to approach us with a request to modify our board portal for executive use. They prized its security and ease of use, but recognized that the formal board process imbedded in the portal would constrain its value for execs. It’s a sensible conclusion. Board process is highly formalized and often codified in bylaws, whereas, executive collaboration is often informal and always fluid. More recently the advent of ever-present and increasingly versatile mobile devices has added urgency to this need. Organizations are looking for a tool that promotes mobile leadership collaboration. Today we’re announcing a product to serve that need.
Today BoardVantage is launching a new product and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
We think that it’s a breakthrough approach to a growing problem faced by many organizations today – the business need for secure access to existing repositories from end-users’ mobile devices. We call it Backplane. What Backplane does, is give employees seamless access to their enterprise repository from their iPhone or iPad, without compromising IT’s standards for security and control.
In my blog “The iPad as Game Changer”, I talked about how the iPad settled the debate about the readiness of technology for the boardroom. Readability and portability improvements addressed long-standing usability concerns about the device, while advances in the software architecture let the portal map to the existing process necessary for going paperless.
In my recent blog I discussed the reasons behind the longevity of paper processes in the boardroom and the lackluster adoption of technology among boards of directors in the face of the wholesale adoption of technology across the rest of the enterprise. My conclusion was simple – the staying power of paper had less to do with its inherent benefits than with the absence of a better alternative.
What accounts for the hold paper process has over boardroom communication? It’s a question worth asking because even in a world dominated by technology, the grip of paper has been remarkably tenacious. Let me do the unexpected here and take the opposite position of what you might expect from the CEO of a board portal vendor and defend paper. (Hint – I will then explain why that position is less tenable today than a few years ago, but I believe that a solid understanding of the pros and cons of both sides lead to better decision making about board communication.) You can frame the discussion along three axes, starting with the directors’ experience:
At any given point in time my CTO or his team members are engaged in several dozen security conversations with prospective customers. Every one of those customers agrees that security is important, but rarely for the same reasons. Depending on who we speak with, we get very different views about what’s important. IT tends to be focused on external hacks, GCs are more concerned with internal breaches and directors worry most about discoverability. The emphasis may shift from case to case, but this fragmented viewpoint is all too common. So out of necessity, we’ve become adept at explaining the finer points of view of these various parties to one another. We step through a version of this in every security call. I thought I’d share a Cliffs notes version of it here.
I recently posted an article on our security in which I went into some depth on how the BoardVantage architecture protects against various internal and external threats. In this article I’d like to shift gears and address not how we prevent intrusion by unauthorized users, but how we differentiate access among authorized users. Some organizations may be perfectly happy with a one-size-fits-all model, so this write-up is not for everyone. Nevertheless, if you’re contemplating a move to paperless and you want more than just book access, or if it’s your objective to capture 100% of your paper process online, this is for you.
A year and a half after its introduction, the iPad has made the paperless boardroom a reality. Not that technology is a stranger in the boardroom—it’s been there for years. It’s just that in the ‘pre-iPad’ days, director use was light, mostly from home and for a quick check of material prior to the meeting. In-meeting use was virtually non-existent, primarily from a handful of tech-savvy directors, whereas more traditional directors stuck with paper. This created the undesirable side effect of cleaving the boardroom between progressive and traditional directors, less than ideal for a setting that prides itself on collegiality. This ‘pre-iPad’, browser-based, world was successful in delivering electronic copies of the boardbook for the convenience of a handful of techie directors, but the long-anticipated paperless boardroom never materialized.