UK: What Questions Should Your Board Ask When Evaluating A Board Portal?

The UK is currently the largest market in Europe for board portals, yet there is still potential for significant growth, according to a study by P&S Market Research.

“Web-based portals are quickly becoming one of the popular corporate governance gizmos. The advantages of board portals, such as enhanced board communication with document review capabilities, web conferencing, labour relation enhancements, easy log-in, video and audio clips sharing capabilities, and questionnaires functionalities, has increased the market penetration of board portals in recent years; Moreover, board portals also facilitate document-sharing technology, data encryption and password protection in an organisation,” the study notes.

Data security has been a critical issue in the board portal market in the past few years.

“Board portal players with superior data encryption technology are expected to gain higher market share during the forecast period. Moreover, user-friendly algorithm and new product development are expected to increase the market penetration of board portals during the forecast period,” as the study points out.

Yet, according to a survey by researcher Fortinet, in spite of a clear and present threat, 48 per cent of board directors believe that cybersecurity is still not a top-priority discussion for the board. In fact, the cybersecurity agenda appears to be essentially reactive. According to the survey, increases in cybersecurity investment comes either in the wake of global cyberattacks like WannaCry (49 per cent) or to comply with government regulations (34 per cent).

Choosing a board portal for security

Now that the World Economic Forum has rated cybersecurity as one of the top-three risks directors are more cognisant of the risk of neglecting threat protection, and that is helping to drive the UK’s board portal market.Company secretaries and board administrators in the UK are looking closely at board portals before making a purchasing decision, evaluating them carefully for security functions.

The first question that should be asked is whether the board portal technology is up-to-date. Cybersecurity threats are continually evolving – not only due to advances in technology, but also because of changes in the world of cybercriminals. Lone hackers have given way to sophisticated organisations that can cause disruption on a global scale. A board portal provider should be able to demonstrate research and development capabilities that enable it to stay ahead of emerging threats.

As third-party handlers of confidential information, board portals should meet security standards comparable to those of the most demanding IT departments across a number of industries.

Key accreditations include:

  • A history of clean annual SSAE 16 audits which focus on controls at the service organisation that would be useful to user entities and their auditors for the purpose of planning a financial statement audit of the user entity and evaluating internal control over financial reporting at the user entity. This includes a certification by the external auditor.
  • ISO 27001 certification for security at the level of approved international standards. Many providers only have certification for data storage, and not for their actual platforms.

Another important question to consider: Is the provider transparent about their security processes? The provider should be clearly able to explain its physical security safeguards (protection of the servers, routers and other equipment), screening processes for new hires, internal controls, system monitoring (if they were hacked, how would

they know), and any history of security breaches and their resolution. Further, data should be encrypted in the data centre, in transit and on users’ devices, with at least 128-bit encryption. A vendor should ensure that encryption key handling and storage are provided with strong key management using Hardware Security Modules. Each customer should have a unique set of keys protecting their data.

Choosing a board portal for functionality

Then, a board portal should be able to update materials stored in real time. This includes real-time notifications of any changes to your board book, along with any notes that may have been on edited or removed pages. Users should be able to choose if and how to share annotations with others. Or users should be able to purge them. Basic functionality, like accessing your board books online or offline, and working during a computer operating update seem simple, but may not be offered by a potential vendor.

And additional features that allow for better governance practices should also be available. These should include e-signatures and e-voting, along with questionnaires. Other functionality, like note sharing, can enhance collaboration, and global search and a document library can provide board members with a robust amount of information very quickly and in one location.  And digital shredding is essential. A vendor should always provide their clients with the ability to completely wipe all user notes and annotations, leaving no digital record.

To learn more about how to digitalise your governance needs in the boardroom, check out the Governance Cloud and see how Diligent can meet your board’s needs.

How Diligent provides the best value for your board portal investment

Diligent led the pack in 2001 with one of the earliest versions of a board portal and has gotten more innovative with time, always moving giant steps ahead of the competition by improving their product suites’ productivity and efficiency where competitors typically lag behind. Moreover, today’s corporate world continues to evolve in crucial areas like governance and cybersecurity, and Diligent still leads the way with the most full-featured board portal on the market.

Diligent’s board portal is designed around the features that are most important to executives and board directors. Our clients have identified security, adoptability, reputation and service, governance and functionality as the top innovations on their wish lists.

Diligent addresses:

  • Security

Diligent uses state-of-the-art security technology and encryption to protect your board’s sensitive data. Such systems often force users to take extra steps to protect their portal, which costs them time and money. Diligent employs the highest-level security measures where each user has a unique set of keys that protects their data, without sacrificing usability. And Diligent uses at least 128-bit encryption at every possible juncture, including in its data centres, in transit and on users’ devices.

  • Adoptability

Diligent ensures that all administrators and end-users are able to use every feature of our board portal. Diligent works on all major operating systems, so users can work on the devices they prefer.

And Diligent offers a variety of training types and styles to meet each end-user where they are. Our staff provides unlimited one-on-one or in-person training so that our clients can use all of the distinctive features of the portal with confidence. Board directors who use the portal confidently remain loyal to our products because they know that they can master the program and adapt to any new changes with the support of our training staff. That’s why Diligent is proud to hold a retention rate of 98%, the highest retention rate in the board portal industry.

  • Reputation and Service

Diligent was founded at the birth of the technology boom and now has over 15 years of experience in the governance and technology space. Many top industry leaders rely on Diligent’s board portal in a variety of public and private industries, including finance, higher education, healthcare, hospitals, senior care organisations and many other industries. Our clients rely on our professional white-glove customer service that provides 24/7 assistance on every day of the year.

  • Governance

Ever-changing and new regulations bring greater responsibilities for board directors. Our board portal lets executives, board members and committee members collaborate while on-the-go, outside of board meetings, in order to perform their work faster and with greater efficiency. Board directors also appreciate Diligent’s capacity to hold a robust library of documents that are easily searchable. UK corporations also welcome ongoing changes and improvements in governance and best practices. Diligent’s team stays up-to-date on new regulations to help boards remain in compliance as governance evolves.

  • Functionality

Many board directors serve on multiple boards. Diligent lets them access materials for all of their boards with a Touch ID sign-on. Directors and executives travel often, so Diligent developed the functionality to sync data across electronic devices, allowing users to access updated information anywhere they are. They can also access their board books online or offline, which greatly enhances time management.

Users have complete control over their information because the board portal gives users the capability to archive or delete all of their notes and annotations, either automatically or on demand.

Diligent knows that corporations are increasingly doing business globally, so our apps are available in eight languages and we are constantly adding more to meet our clients’ needs.

Board Portal Buyer’s Guide

With the right Board Portal software, a board can improve corporate governance and efficiency while collaborating in a secure environment. With lots of board portal vendors to choose from, the whitepaper contains the most important questions to ask during your search, divided into five essential categories.

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