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For boardrooms, the future is data

Driven by the pandemic, boardrooms have had to digitise to some degree, to adapt to the new ways of working that nearly all of us all now operate in. There is no time for boards to rest on their laurels any longer, for a new evolution of the boardroom is coming – the evolution of data.

It may come as a surprise, but boardrooms and board members can be the most hesitant when it comes to adopting and embracing new technologies. Indeed, for some boardrooms, implementing Zoom was their first and only foray into cloud technology. Driven by the pandemic, most boardrooms have had to digitise to some degree, to adapt to the new ways of working that nearly all of us all now operate in. But there is no time for boards to rest on their laurels any longer, for a new evolution of the boardroom is coming – the evolution of data.

Data will become the foundation of how a board operates, from organising proceedings pre-meeting, creating an effective and efficient meeting, to ensuring follow-ups and actions are carried out smoothly post-meeting. But data won’t simply be relied upon to make meetings more efficient – data insights will propel boardrooms into a new era of evaluation and measurement.

Data can ultimately convert information into actionable insights, to make boardrooms more effective. For example, data can inform a chair of a board as to how engaged board members actually are, or how the meeting’s efficiency can be improved. Making the shift from simply adopting cloud technology to embracing actionable data is the next step for boardrooms to take.

Below are four key ways in which data will transform the workings of boardrooms.

1. Data-driven agendas
Many boards huddle after a meeting has taken place, and discuss anecdotally how they felt that meeting went and what the discussion highlights were. Traditionally, these discussions ended there but, with technology, this feedback can be collated online and turned into actionable insights, so that the next board meeting reflects what the participants are expecting and agenda items are in sync with what they want to talk about.

Data can also enhance a meeting before it’s even begun. For instance, technology and board portals can allow for materials to be read and commented on, online, before the meeting – therefore, giving those planning and chairing the meeting an oversight into what needs to be discussed at that board meeting. In some cases, this has led to agendas being completely re-written or re-ordered, to be more in tune with the discussion points people actually want to discuss – leading to a far more engaged board. There is a shift happening right now in making boards more forward-thinking.

2. Ongoing feedback and assessments
As board meetings become increasingly digital, the more data there is to harvest from them. And with data analytical tools, board meetings themselves can be rated and valued for future improvements. In some cases already, board members can go online and give a recently attended board meeting a rating, out of five or 10 for example, and give their feedback as to how it can be improved.

Over time, once patterns have been formed, data analytics can determine what works well for each board in different sectors, be it financial, healthcare or technology. Making these insights readily available goes some way in ensuring board meetings are run at optimum efficiencies and engagement is high.

3. Intelligent forward planning
Forward planning will become far more advanced and widespread in boardrooms.

For example, online portals can alert a CEO, or someone holding a similar position, as to which board members are reaching retirement age for example, and what their unique skill set is that will subsequently need to be filled once they have retired. With this information, boards can put the upcoming vacancy to market, ensuring there is no skills gap and the transition of replacing a soon-to-be departing member is a smooth one.

Such enhancement of cloud and data technology is removing the need for humans to carry out these processes, and empowering board members to perform roles that add value.

4. Data-led decision-making
Implementing data analytics to gain a full view of the company can highlight specific areas that require immediate attention, which can deliver measurable results – for instance, helping management teams see how to direct budgets into new investments where they will deliver the best ROI.

Further, AI-powered predictive analytics can be a game-changer in identifying and preventing potential risks before they happen, optimising cybersecurity or fraud prevention – a growing concern and priority across financial markets.

The potential benefits of a data-centric business model range from boosting operational and cost efficiency and revenues, to informing hiring strategy, customer engagement, risk management, governance, reporting, lending decisions and forecasting.

It can also open up access to more exciting developments, such as quickly spotting opportunities and gaps and acting on them, targeting new market segments, making timely product enhancements, plus directing leaders’ attention to synergistic cross-selling, partnership and acquisition possibilities.

The data evolution in the boardroom is upon us, accelerated somewhat by the pandemic which forced all boardrooms to innovate further and at a fast rate. Now, boardroom efficiency is being transformed thanks to technology and online tools and portals – readily available digital is not only speeding up processes, but allowing boards to become more forward-thinking and plan better for the future.

A data enabled boardroom is the next evolutionary step for boards everywhere.

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