Investor Relations (IR) app for iPhone, iPad and Android – theIRapp™

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Meeting Investor Needs: Mobile or Bust

Mobile technology, and particularly the use of mobile devices in the workplace, is no longer a trend — it’s a reality. Just take a quick look at the partnership formed between Apple and IBM or the more recent announcement from Red Hat and Samsung, and you can see that some of today’s biggest companies are gearing up to deliver superior software solutions for the mobile device (otherwise known as “apps”). Yet, as investors and companies alike prepare for this quarter’s earnings season, we have to question how and whether this “trend” has yet to truly impact the work habits and communications efforts of the overall financial and investor relations community.

Taking a step back, 2014 marked a milestone for mobile. Giving credence to Mary Meeker’s somewhat shocking 2008 prediction (“mobile to overtake fixed internet access by 2014”), Americans used smartphones and tablets for more than half of their internet usage, surpassing PCs for the first time. A majority of that usage was app-based, and this trend is not limited to the United States, or even to developed economies. Consider this: In India, there are 120 million smartphone users. That number is double what it was less than two years ago. And in South Africa, which has an unbanked population estimated as high as 67%87% of individuals own mobile phones — 36% of those being smart phones.

When we look more directly at the investment community, the mobile stats are just beginning to catch up with general consumer consumption habits. According to Charles Schwab, roughly 725,000 clients currently use the firm’s apps while data from E*trade shows that 49% of all investors use an investing or trading app two to three times per week. Furthermore, in two separate studies of professional investors conducted by PR Newswire and theIRapp, 51.5% of investors use an iPad or similar smart mobile device and 83% of investors rely on mobile when it comes to their work, respectively.

Notwithstanding this, many public companies have yet to embrace the new technological paradigm of mobile.  But shouldn’t a public company’s communications efforts be in line with its investors’ consumption habits? The proof points for devoting time and resources toward a mobile friendly, if not mobile first, strategy are stacking up. Public companies looking to reach, engage, and compete at the global level need to take note of the fact that unlike ever before, they now have direct access to get their messages and information directly into the hands (and pockets) of their investors – and this can occur simultaneously and instantaneously anywhere in the world.

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Avon, Twitter and Fraudulent Communications

In only a few months, two prominent brands – Avon and Twitter – had erroneous news reported that they were the targets of takeovers. In the case of Avon, this was the result of a fraudulent filing that took place in the Edgar database of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yesterday, a phony “look-alike” site containing the Bloomberg name reported that Twitter was being sold.

Whether someone is looking to reap some sort of pecuniary gain or this is the beginning of a trend to manipulate the financial markets, there is a serious lesson to be learned.  The Internet is a great thing and a great resource.  At the same time, it is dangerous if we don’t keep its value in perspective.

With respect to public company information, there are only a few places where you can be certain that the information posted is authentic.  Since we launched theIRapp three years ago, we have stressed the importance of a company’s IR website and IR app as the way to ensure that the public has instantaneous access to authentic, company generated information and content.  If investors and the media rely on other Internet-based sources (and even the SEC’s database), then look what happens – Avon and Twitter.

Nearly every public company has an investor section on its corporate website. This is the by-product of the advancement of the Internet and the SEC’s Reg FD more than 15 years ago (believe it or not).  However, as computing moves to mobile, things are once again changing.  Many great companies have embraced the importance of having a mobile IR strategy (search the app stores for “theIRapp, llc” and you will see who).  However, to the extent investors and the media are reliant on their smart devices for immediate information, shouldn’t all companies now have a mobile IR strategy?

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NIRI Annual 2015 Recap

Having just returned from Chicago after our fourth year exhibiting at the National Investor Relations Institute’s annual conference, I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding the adoption of mobile technology in the investor relations industry:

  • Overall, we had great conversations with IROs from companies of all sizes and industries. There was particular interest in theCONFERENCEapp product that allows companies to have a native app for their analyst days and to be able to aggregate all of their presentations and other company information neatly on the mobile device. The ability to save paper and also make 11th hour changes to presentations was especially interesting to them.
  • IROs recognize that the buy- and sell-side are increasingly becoming dependent on their mobile devices in their work. It’s hard to ignore the fact that nearly everyone has a mobile device with them when they attend analyst days, investor conferences and one-on-one meetings. One IRO we spoke with mentioned that given the ability to take notes on .PDF files contained in their IR app, it wouldn’t surprise him if investors slowly but surely stop using traditional spiral notebooks.
  • Almost everyone we spoke with realizes that the future of technology and communications is mobile. And, it was great to see some of theIRapp customers (Edwards Lifesciences, Phillip Morris and Tyson Foods, among others) who, over the past few years, have pioneered the use of mobile technology in their IR work. However, there still are companies who view mobile as supplemental to current communications methodologies and not necessary. My take on this – times are a-changing.

Looking forward to NIRI 2016 in San Diego!

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