The Corporations Amendment (Crowd-sourced Funding) Bill 2016 has finally passed. From September 2017, retail investors will have a chance to buy up to $10,000 in the form of equity in business startups after the Senate passed the crowdsourcing legislation. The bill allows unlisted public companies that have gross assets of up to $25 million to advertise their business ideas to crowdfunding portals that are licensed and raise up to $5 million a year. The investors are allowed to invest to a maximum of $10,000 a year to any number of business plans.
While the bid for Labor opposition to have the law apply immediately to proprietary firms was unsuccessful, this new legislation is an exciting new framework for qualifying businesses and startups to expand through non-traditional means.
As lawmakers begin to place an increasing amount of focus in accommodating and regulating innovation, it’s time for leaders to review the role of various technologies in their businesses.
Technology matters in your boardroom. We aren’t just referring to projectors, laptops and the other communication devices that we use to facilitate and conduct board meetings.
We are talking about what it means to your business in the marketplace and how you can fully engage in discussion about digital disruption in the boardroom.
Technology is developing at an excitingly rapid pace, and innovation has become an essential part of driving the growth and efficiency of businesses.
Main Categories of Technology
There are hundreds of kinds of technology that may or may not apply to your business model. These may be divided into four generally accepted categories.
Human Enhancement Technologies include technologies designed to enhance human capabilities such as memory, sight and hearing. They include electronic do do lists and filing systems and, when integrated across your entire company are an invaluable tool.
Collaborative Technologies include peer to peer, and data sharing. Uber is the perfect example of a collaborative technology that took an idea as simple as ride sharing and turned it into an international, multimillion dollar company that has completely disrupted the taxi industry.
Also known as Virtual Reality, Augmented Technology is more than just The Sims. It is a view of the real world environment whose elements are augmented or supplemented through computer generated sensory input.
Google Maps world view is Augmented Reality. When you ‘check in’ to a restaurant on Facebook you are participating in augmented technology that allows you to share your experience with friends despite the absence of their physical appearance.
Augmented Technology is the next big thing in retail. When you check in to your local shopping centre you can receive alerts about specials from your favourite retailers based on your preferences and browser history. This is not the future. It is the present, and your board needs to be discussing it.
The Internet of Things refers to the network of physical devices, buildings, cameras with network connectivity that allows them to collect and exchange data, for example a home security system that calls your security company when triggered.
The Internet of Things generates huge amounts of user data that can be captured and used to gauge how your customers engage with your product.
The purpose of discussing the types of technology is to bring your attention to something that may seem irrelevant in the boardroom but is in fact extremely relevant to your business model.
The right technology can not only increase your productivity and profitability, but can, in some cases, genuinely underpin its capacity to survive.
Your Corporate Strategy
There are four factors to a successful technology plan.
Your company no doubt has a sales team, a finance department and a business manager. But does it have an IT person to manage the IT concerns and aspirations of a business your size (whatever that may be)?
Your board should be liaising with your IT manager, listening to their views and engaging them to drive IT projects, whether they be maintenance, security or innovation.
Technology is often implemented on an ‘ad hoc’ basis. How many times are the following phrases used in your company:
“This solution is the cheapest. Let’s use it”
“This program wont work because no one knows how to use it”
“This program is too expensive. We can’t afford it”
Boards need to adopt a process that considers options in terms of immediate and long term goals as well as what any financial constraints and other considerations such as staff training.
For smaller projects, invite your IT manager to present to the board to make sure that it is understood by all board members what the technology is and how it is going to affect the company.
For larger projects, external advice from IT experts can be worth seeking. Just as you would engage a lawyer for a legal project and an engineer for a building one.
Once your board has engaged the right people, followed its process and sought relevant advice they should have the confidence they need to make IT decisions that affect the company. Each director should be fully equipped to have meaningful discussions and technology and confidently play a role in its governance.
We can’t discuss leadership without risk. It is a topic most directors are familiar with and some of us often feel like it’s the only thing we deal with. Technology risks are no exception.
Directors often feel like they must choose between innovation and risk management, but there is another risk at play here. Innovation vs obsolescence.
The same four factors can be used to reduce risk. What you can do:
- Engage IT people to monitor and identify risk.
- Implement a company wide process for dealing with risk factors.
- Seek advice.
Technology shouldn’t be the elephant in the room at your board meetings, and strong leadership will be integral to making technology a mainstay of discussion and implementation in companies.
With these four steps, you can lead your company away from the fear of technology and embrace its capacity to make your business safer, more efficient and ultimately… more profitable!
What Should I Do Next?
Contact us if you would like have more information on integrating technology into your corporate strategy and managing the legal risks involved in the process. Our lawyers at You Legal will be happy to assist you in whatever way we can.
* This blog is for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to any specific issues.