More than 100 of the nation’s largest insurance companies are protecting their sensitive information by using Diligent Board Books, a software portal designed by Diligent Board Member Services Inc. of New York. It’s one way of ensuring that what happens in the boardroom stays in the boardroom, notes Executive Vice President Jeff Powell.
The portals are made exclusively for use by boards of directors to allow members to interact without the fear of their information being hacked. Directors can access their information on the boards using an iPad or other tablet, a smartphone, or other devices, Powell says. The boards also replace the cost and hassle of processing large paper books for board meetings.
“This has become a much more secure way of distribution” than paper or posting information in email or to a Dropbox account, he says. The portals also allow Diligent and the boards to communicate in real time for updates.
Studies show that technology use by company boards is rising. According to the 2012 Board Practices Report from Deloitte & Touche LLC, more company boards are using board books and doing away with paper: two-thirds, or 66 percent of public companies surveyed said their boards were using a board portal in 2012, up from 41 percent in 2011. Some 32 percent of these companies said they’re also using tablets, up from just 19 percent in 2011.
Some 70 percent of Fortune 400 companies are using Diligent Board Books, including Exxon Mobile Corp., Walmart and J.P. Morgan, Powell says. Insurance companies using the board portals may find it helps them sort information needed for tighter regulatory reporting requirements, he says.
The board portals may also come in handy during a crisis management event, when a company and its executives and board members are “under the microscope,” he says. “If there’s some type of problem or issue that needs to be addressed, the boards and the executives are on it. This is a tool for them to look at wherever they might be in the world.”
Communication via the board portals is “very tightly controlled” by Diligent—while board members can take notes or even write notes on the boards to other members, Diligent controls all those actions, he says. “This is an environment where everything is under tight lock and key.”
“In this day and age you have to live every minute of your life as if you were on TV,” Powell adds.