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Archive for February, 2013

IR Professionals Are Ready to Engage Investors with Mobile

The use of mobile technology and IR apps in communications is a new and emerging category.  Companies are only now beginning to recognize the power of mobile in shareholder engagement and communications as can be seen by the fact that today only 100 native IR apps can be found in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Market.  While these apps tend to belong to larger corporations (Walmart, Marathon Oil, Campbell’s Soup, etc.), companies with smaller market capitalizations are also starting to embrace IR apps as a way to communicate with investors who are increasingly on the go.

That’s why, as part of our work to help the IR industry understand and embrace new technology, we conducted a survey of how more than 100 IROs view the importance of mobile technology to investor communications and how they plan to use mobile technologies now and in the future.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 88% of IROs recognize the importance of mobile to their work as communications professionals and believe that public companies need to develop a mobile IR strategy in the coming year
  • 57% of IROs believe investors now require faster access to IR content via mobile devices as compared to traditional sources
  • 91% of IROs believe the same amount or more companies will consider publishing an investor relations app this year
  • 67% of IROs think the SEC will react in the near future to the use of mobile technologies/apps for investor communications and for Reg FD disclosure purposes

These results clearly demonstrate that IROs from leading companies know investors want mobile communications. That’s why I believe it’s a very exciting time in the IR industry. There is a complete paradigm shift underway with respect to how people communicate with one other. To the extent mobile technologies offer companies the ability to push information and engage directly with investors via their very personal mobile device, the IR industry must consider and rethink how investors are now consuming information.

In or around 2000, the IR section of the corporate website was a nice to have and was unregulated by the SEC. Now it is an accepted means through which to communicate and every company must have one. Given what we have seen over the past couple of years with the proliferation of mobile, and as was confirmed by theIRapp’s survey, no one can question that mobile devices and apps are here to stay and just as the IR section of the corporate website is now a must have, so too will be the case with IR apps.

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What the Blackberry Z10 means to Investor Relations

IR apps are still in their infancy as many public companies  work to define what role mobile technology and apps should play in their IR communications.  Blackberry’s release of its Z10 operating system further demonstrates the importance of apps to the future of mobile technology.  With respect to public company communications, it validates why companies should consider a Native IR App solution rather than one based on HTML5 technology.

A debate exists over whether to go the Native App or HTML5 route.  The simplest point of differentiation between the two is that Native Apps can exist in the app stores of the well-known technology behemoths:  Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Market, Microsoft’s Windows Store and Blackberry World.  HTML5 apps are essentially websites optimized for mobile devices that cannot exist in these stores or markets.  (Click here for my whitepaper on the difference between Native Apps and HTML5.)

I am a gambling man, but I am not one to bet against Apple, Google or Microsoft.  While the jury is still out on Blackberry, the launch of its Z10 operating system confirms the importance of native apps to the future of business being conducted via mobile technology as well as to communications.  In its launch presentation, Blackberry made a point of highlighting what the Z10 means to its app market – the Blackberry World.  Apple’s App Store has almost 800,000 apps; the Google Play Market expects to have more than 1 million apps by June; and Microsoft’s Windows Store more than doubled its catalog of apps to 150,000 in 2012.  Blackberry World plans to have 70,000 apps as the Z10 becomes commercially available in the coming months and expects to expand this number exponentially.  The common theme among Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry is that all of the app stores are comprised of Native apps.

In a recent post on Forbes.com, Aidan Quilligan of Accenture Mobility weighs the benefits of Native Apps versus HTML5 apps. Quilligan indicates that a main point of comparison between the two is one of cost, with HTML5 being more affordable from a development standpoint.  This is not necessarily the case with respect to IR apps since turnkey solutions like theIRapp™ exist. However, to the extent Blackberry has only now awoken and attempted to join the ranks of Apple, Google and Microsoft with respect to apps, public companies should think beyond short-term costs and consider the lesson of Blackberry and its Z10 operating system so that they can avoid finding themselves playing catch up in the future.

 

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