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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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