Digitalisation of board processes whats at risk

Securing boardroom communications

According to the UK Combined Code of Corporate Governance 2003; Every company should be headed by an effective board, which is collectively responsible for the success of the company . Thats especially true when it comes to the security of confidential boardroom data.

Data breaches pose a substantial risk to directors, executives and corporations. As a recent survey of ICSA members reveals, a staggering 70 per cent of board members still print and carry around board documents. Larger organisations, those with 251-500 employees, proved the most reliant on hard copies, with 80 per cent of this group admitting they still used physical documentation.

When it came to the secure disposal of confidential board documents, 40 per cent of those questioned could not confirm if this was done in line with compliance policies, and 16 per cent admitted that they “sometimes” destroyed documents in line with compliance policies.

The digital boardroom is able to eradicate the inherent risk involved in the production and manual distribution of paper-based board papers via insecure post and courier methods. Confidential documentation can be provided via a centralised secure vault thats protected by strict access controls. Ensuring the boards activities stay confidential at all times and that documentation no longer needs to be printed out and carried around by board personnel in preparation for meetings.

Its an approach that has delivered a secure and energy-saving way of making confidential meeting documents available to board directors and in compliance with statutory regulations for BBBank in Germany. Its board members are now able to access confidential meeting dossiers held in a secure boardroom, alongside regular reports on business development and risk management, using a password and a one-time PIN thats texted to their mobile device.

Tackling the cyber-breach challenge

Secure information exchange is an essential element of an effective risk management strategy. But recent cyber breaches at major corporations have highlighted the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks and the reputational and regulatory implications of failing to protect critical information assets.

Yet, the Brainloop ICSA member survey revealed that 34 per cent of the organisations surveyed are still using commercial email accounts the number one threat vector for organisations, according to Verizons Annual Data Breach Survey to send confidential board information. A figure that increases to 40 per cent of firms in companies in the 51-250 and 251-500 size brackets.

Its a challenge that the insurance company Helvetia has addressed by utilising a highly secure web-based boardroom to eliminate the laborious burden of encrypting and distributing confidential board papers by email. Helvetia now uses a secure purpose-built centralised board portal to ensure immediate and secure information exchange that features advanced document encryption alongside a fully compliant audit trail.

A two-factor authentication procedure ensures Helvetia is able to maintain strict access controls to its data repository. A password-based registration system is supplemented by a second authentication layer in the form of a one-time code that is sent by text to an authorised users mobile phone that is valid for one user only and only for the current session. The approach also ensures secure mobile access for members working on the move is maintained at all times. To make screen captures difficult, each screen viewed by the user contains a dynamically embedded watermark.

Navigating user challenges

The introduction of digitalisation involves the use of tablets and browser-based solutions that may be a challenge for those who are not digital natives. For this reason, digital solutions need to be intuitive to use and a carefully planned phased introduction programme needs to be put into place to ensure everyone can get up and running smoothly.

Its an approach that paid dividends for Helvetia, which implemented iPads for its members and support for board members as they transitioned from paper based processes to fully digital documentation access and collaboration processes. Additional support services were put in place to respond to help requests and user uptake and acceptance was fast. Today around 40 people in multiple locations are using the system, which is fully compliant with the privacy policies of a number of global territories, to securely access and work with documentation and participate in digital voting processes.

Moving security and efficiency into the boardroom

Todays high performing boards need to be able to successfully accomplish tasks and add value to the business. But as the definition of board effectiveness shifts, pressure is mounting on boards to respond to the demands of increased globalisation, deliver greater visibility into board operations, and optimise the process steps that help keep board members engaged and able to fulfil their responsibilities.

Digitalisation enables boardrooms to maximise cost and time efficiencies. From eliminating the expense and time involved in the production and distribution of board papers, to enabling new and better ways of communication and collaboration for members and executives that deliver transparency alongside voting support for faster, improved decision-making.

Corporations are also able to generate significant process efficiencies in relation to board management, utilising automated workflow functions to save time, money, and enable the faster flow of information and approvals between the board and executive committees.

In relation to risk management, making the move to digitalisation can also address security concerns and compliance requirements. Documents can be protected from unauthorised access, and all interactions including reviews, notes and annotations are tracked and archived. A facility thats proving of increasing value for those companies and organisations that need to undergo formal third-party board assessments or performance oversight procedures.

In an era of shareholder activism, todays organisations need to demonstrate their ability to drive well-evaluated decisions quickly and securely. The digitalisation of board processes can go a long way to enabling boards to perform more effectively and with greater security than ever before.

Mark Edge is UK country manager at Brainloop.

Share this story

Close
Menu
Send this to a friend