With the Credit Crunch leaving stock market values low, and the cash on corporate balance sheets reaching ‘historically high levels’ (according to Paul Parker, head of global acquisitions at Barclays Capital) the take-over prices of target companies are currently looking temptingly cheap. This summer I have spotted lots of headlines in the financial pages about ‘M&A Mania’. To give you just a taster:-
* ‘US Stocks Rise As M&A Activity Seen As Hopeful Sign; DJIA Up 63’ (Wall Street Journal)
* ‘SAP to join tech sector M&A boom’ (Computer Weekly)
* ‘Merger Mania predicted as cash-rich firms stalk takeover targets'(The Guardian)
* ‘M&A boom building up steam in Vietnam’ (Vietnam Business News)
* ‘Mergers & Acquisitions Mania Disrupts Bankers Summer Break’ (The Guardian)
Need I go on? Poor old bankers, I hear you cry, once again enduring appalling hardship as they are recalled from their summer holidays. What a shame, they have such a tough time of it! But why are they leaving the beach? Why are they sacrificing their precious once-a-year break to get back to the office? Why aren’t they using a SaaS system? Haven’t they heard of the Virtual Boardroom? Haven’t they even heard of Webforum?
I realise, of course, that these days, after the Enron scandal and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the USA, and with the UK Corporate Governance Code setting out standards in Britain, boardrooms around the world are subject to closer scrutiny than ever before. Company directors are well aware of the importance of frequent, effective and secure communication.
But these days it doesn’t have to be face-to-face across the board table! Internet-based technology has evolved to spawn the perfect tool to enable them to share confidential working documents, such as director reports and meeting minutes in a secure environment which is accessible 24/7, from anywhere in the world.
It’s called SaaS, also sometimes known as Cloud Computing. For anyone who does not work full time, and does not need to commute every day, but who needs to keep in touch with the office and collaborate with colleagues, a SaaS service could be the answer. A good SaaS service such as Webforum can provide complete security coupled with the benefits of portability and accessibility. This is particularly useful for boards with non-executive directors, who by the nature of their roles are not employees, and are not expected to carry out their work on company premises or have access to company systems.
Putting your valuable and confidential documents in the hands of an outside agency might seem like a risky move. As for storing your data in the clouds, that sounds positively alarming. In fact data stored on SaaS is a whole lot less vulnerable than data stored on your own network. Furthermore, if you are in the habit of using portable storage devices such as data sticks, CDs and laptops, be aware that they tend to get left on trains, lost, or stolen from cars and offices, with embarrassing regularity.
A good SaaS system will include a safe repository for sensitive or restricted data, totally separate from the company network, where there might be a risk of it being accessed by unauthorised personnel, either accidentally or maliciously. Sign up to a really good SaaS provider and you will no longer need to carry vulnerable CDs and datasticks around with you. No need to mess around emailing correspondence and attachments, as data sharing and collaboration is built into the system.
No need to worry about backing up your files, as a reputable SaaS provider will do it all for you. Even better, the best systems come complete with their own user and group access controls, making it easy for you to control and restrict access to documents and folders.
Best of all, with SaaS there is complete freedom, portability and accessibility. No need to leave the beach at all! Well OK then, maybe just for a few minutes to use your laptop from your hotel room.
Charlotte Mooney is an IT professional with many years experience, currently working for International IT Software Consultancy Proswift, specialising in the Webforum online Document Management and online Project Planning Service. If this story strikes a chord with you, click one of the links above and check out what Webforum could do for you and your business.