Last week I was fortunate to speak in front of a global group of Investor Relations officers at the CITI ADR IR Academy in New York City. As a former IR consultant and founder of a Mobile technology company for communications professionals, I was able to blend my expertise on both subjects to provide the attendees with a ‘state of the state’ on mobile technology as it pertains to IR.
To put the discussion in context, I started my remarks by referring to my book Investor Relations: The Art of Communicating Value. In particular, I reviewed the four basic steps that I believe are critical to building a successful investor relations program:
- Determine the investment proposition
- Develop the communications platform
- Target the appropriate investor audience
- Build relationships with investors
Mobile technology clearly is relevant to Step 2 (the communications platform) and Step 4 (building relationships with investors). Research unequivocally demonstrates that mobile technology is everywhere and pretty much every worker has an Apple or Android device with them 24/7. Investment professionals are no exception and therefore it would be prudent for IRO’s to add this “mobile platform” to their overall Communications Platform to communicate their story and investment proposition(s) to their targeted investor audience.
I then went on to un-confuse what many IR professionals find confusing – the various easy and cost effective options that exist to incorporate mobile into an IR program. Viewing an IR website through a mobile browser is no longer acceptable. IR websites originally weren’t created for the small screens of mobile devices and hence are illegible, not to mention extremely difficult navigate. A responsive design optimized website is definitely a better alternative since it at least makes the IR website content legible. However, even this does not fully take advantage of the capabilities available from Apple and Android-based mobile devices.
So what option remains? Native apps. These apps are software that can be found in the app stores and were developed specifically for the operating systems that are “native” to the mobile devices (iOS, Android and Windows for the few Windows phones out there). Native apps allow for push notifications to inform investors immediately when new content is made available; the downloading of content for offline viewing and listening; and note taking on tablets. To the extent investors proactively download a company’s app and opt-in to receive the push notifications to their personal device, this can go a long way towards building relationships with investors (Step 4), especially when content appears on the home screen of the device when it is in sleep mode.
I concluded my remarks by stating the following: “There is a paradigm change that is happening right before our eyes. The technology we have used for the past few decades is changing and will continue to change. The way in which we use mobile technology in business is changing and will continue to change. Behaviors are changing as are our expectations for the way things get done. Mobile technology is front and center when it comes to investor relations – we can’t escape the fact that all of our investors have at least one mobile device – and it will only continue to become more important in the years to come. So, regardless of whether our investors are specifically asking us to develop an app or to incorporate mobile into our communications platform, at some point soon, they will come to expect that we will do so. We have a choice to make now – we can be proactive in our use of technology for our work, or we can wait until we no longer have a choice.”