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iPads get IT into the boardroom

Karl Flinders

Deutsche Börse, Standard Life and Resolution are three finance firms that have transformed board meetings through the use of Apple iPads.

Using software from Diligent, the companies have replaced hundreds of pages of documents in lever arch files with a system that provides all the information board members need via an iPad. This has not only made preparation for meetings easier but cut costs by thousands of pounds.

Traditionally non-executive board members would be sent hundreds of pages of documents by courier weeks before a meeting. They would then have to travel with the documents to the meetings, which are usually in different countries.

But using Diligent Boardbooks, board members have a direct link to the latest version of information via an iPad, which links directly to the servers the data sits on.

Diligent was a web design company in 2001 but when it was asked by a client to create a system that makes it easier to produce and deliver board papers, it helped create a cloud-based service.

Charlie Horrell, managing director Europe at Diligent, says the arrival of the iPad was the moment Boardbooks software took off. Before that, laptops were used but they were not so effective, being of a more intrusive nature and requiring multiple power points.

Paul McKenna, associate group company secretary at Standard Life, said everything was done on paper before but now there are 58 board members at the company using the system as well as 136 people across the company. Standard Life originally had 15 users but has expanded quickly.

Board members always have the most recent version of papers and security is improved with a reduced threat of lost documents.

Roger Clifton, company secretary at Resolution, said board members' lives – as well as those of the company secretariat – is made easier by not having to wait at home for a courier. He says there is also a cost saving with Resolution eliminating £50,000 in paper and courier costs alone. Its Diligent license costs are £32,000.

Gerhard Roggemann, deputy chairman of the Deutsche Börse board and member of five other boards, says he uses the Diligent software on his iPad for four of the boards he sits on. He said, in the past when he was travelling, the files he was transporting would take up more room than his luggage.

He also said the iPad makes meetings easier through functionality such as being able to scroll to relevant pages quickly and the ability to use digital sticky notes.

Although Diligent is a US company, the information sits on servers in three datacentres in Canada to counter fears from non-US companies regarding the Patriots Act, which allows the US government to access any data stored on US territory.


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