Some fund boards are eyeing iPads for their board materials. "It has really changed the dynamic of the board portal space," said Joe Ruck, president of Menlo Park, Calif.-based BoardVantage. "It's a next generation operating system and you can make the application dramatically easier to use and so a combination of these factors inspired a group of traditional directors, who were sort of reluctant to adopt technology, to embrace it."
Last month, BoardVantage released an update to its iPad application on iTunes allowing directors secure access to their materials while in transit; this month Diligent Board Member Services is preparing an update to its application that will redo how the notes feature works. Alex Sodi, ceo and president of Diligent, told FD that he has seen a tremendous amount of interest for the iPads with about half of Diligent's 30 mutual fund group clients evaluating its use in the boardroom. "It's really the ability to use it when you are not connected to the internet that companies want to use," Sodi said. Diligent is also exploring using Dell's Android tabloids.
Edward Burke Carey, independent chairman of the Fifth Third Funds, said the board is planning to have a formal presentation from vendors during the spring as well as having in-depth discussions with other boards about the technology. Some of the key issues for the Fifth Third Funds board are functionality and security, specifically the ability to secure all of the data and handle it appropriately, said Carey. "Clearly one of the benefits is adding material to a board book after it's been sent out and transporting board books," he said. "I know when we have our fall meetings board books can become physically cumbersome."
Robert Gavin, independent chairman of the board of the Hartford Funds, said the funds are currently evaluating Diligent's application and will probably move to iPads at some point after making sure all of the kinks have been worked out. Sam Freedman, independent trustee of the Denver board of the OppenheimerFunds, said the funds are also testing the iPad applications at an operational level and predicts the board will eventually move to this format. "I would suspect by the end of this year there would be many more boards using this because it is much more efficient," Freedman said.