The digital boardroom and organizational command centers
One subject that every board of directors will have spent hours discussing over the past few years is digital transformation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board itself will face challenges that require it to transform if it wants to remain effective.
Boards are usually global in their distribution and reliant on in-person, infrequent meetings—both of which will be near-impossible in the near-to-medium term. As businesses work to regain some of the momentum they have lost, their board needs to quickly adapt its ways of working to make the necessarily fast decisions about COVID-19 and the environment it has created.
In the traditional workflow, topics for discussion and decision would be batched together into a cross-functional agenda to support collective decision-making at fixed intervals. COVID-19-specific decisions—or indeed many other business decisions that are now happening at the same pace—can’t operate at that cadence.
The senior management team needs to find a digital-first way of operating that suits the “new normal,” which includes reduced or prohibited travel, the need for fast decision-making, and an operating environment that can change by the hour or day depending on factors beyond their control.
Divide and conquer
One way to approach the challenge is to split out key COVID-19 priorities into separate subgroups and then create digital “war rooms” or command centers for each area of responsibility.
Inevitably, there will be overlap between members of each group, which is good to get balanced input. But decisions will be made faster if the subgroups are empowered to do what they feel is best based on data they know and understand better than anyone else.
These cross-functional, real-time, complex, virtual teams can then leverage a variety of data points that are relevant to the task at hand to tackle the many questions organizations are currently faced with, such as: How do I bring my people back? And how do I keep them safe and effective once they are back?
Digital command centers bring data to decision making
While traditional board meetings have necessitated the cobbling together of data ahead of the event, today’s don’t typically require that step thanks to digital platforms, which enable data to be presented and explored instantly by relevant groups.
Interactive data visualizations and charts are shared on computer screens, tablets or phones, wherever the team is located. A digital command center allows key information to be highlighted but also available for more detailed scrutiny by whoever wants to conduct further analysis. And decision-makers get to spend more time on strategy and planning rather than on static compilations of data.
Beyond exploration, a digital command center can go further in ways that reduce the burden of time needed by each board member. For example, real-time data enables the software to recommend next steps or make smart predictions of outcomes through appropriate application of algorithms.
As we look forward to better days, when discussions of office reconfigurations and cleaning processes are a thing of the past, boardrooms will look back upon this trying time as the ultimate test of their organization’s digital strategy. And those that use data-backed insights to do so will come out on top.