Corporate Eye

Mobile Services for Investor Relations

Recently, I came across something interesting on the Bayer Investor Relations site, “Mobile Services.” Most people probably imagine an investor or potential investor sitting at a computer while viewing an IR website. After all, many of the documents that form the cornerstone of Investor Relations don’t lend themselves to being viewed on the tiny screen of a mobile device. Can you imagine trying to read a prospectus on your phone or PDA?

SMS or Text Messages

And yet, some things are very useful for the mobile investor. Bayer’s site for example offers SMS (text messages) for IR News and share price. While many IR sites offer email alerts, the use of SMS or text messages seems to be less common as of yet.

For every day use, there probably aren’t a lot of investors looking for a text message every time something gets posted, but in certain cases, particularly when an investor is waiting on certain information, a prompt text message might be exactly what they need.

There is some care to be exercised here. Regulators likely won’t consider the distribution of important financial information via text message as meeting the qualifications of public disclosure, so you will want the text message to go out at the same time or after the relevant disclosure is made in the company’s traditional public forum. On the other hand, an SMS message that arrives days or even hours after the release of the information elsewhere is likely to be regarded as poor service or insulting. After all, someone doesn’t sign up for quick instant notification only to be delayed in receiving the information.

Mobile View Website

As more devices become capable of displaying web based content, more investors will be looking up information on the go. Perhaps based upon a conversation at lunch, an investor will try and look up the IR page of a company between meetings, or somewhere else on the go.

Although the mobile devices industry is working on solutions for displaying full-scale content, nothing compares to having a page specifically formatted for mobile users. In fact, with a simple bit of coding, a page can actually detect if the visitor is using a mobile device, and if so, display the mobile page instead of the full page.

Bayer IR Mobile PageAgain, the Bayer website provides a nice example of this function. This functionality is not on the IR site alone, but rather part of an integrated mobile site interface accessible via www.mobile.bayer.com. Once accessed, the IR page is an easy click away. The information is easy to read and formatted so that the mobile user doesn’t require any tedious scrolling or searching around to find what they are looking for.

Also, knowing that the information most likely to be sought on a need to know now basis by mobile users is the stock price, the mobile page has been laid out such that the quote is right on top allowing any mobile user to quickly access the page, get the price and then keep moving, which is what being mobile is all about.

Best Practices

Launching a mobile site is a fairly straightforward sounding process. However, it will work best if it is part of your overall template or content management system. Tediously reformatting every posting for mobile viewing is not only inefficient, but error prone as well. A well designed IR site infrastructure, however, can allow each posting to get the mobile treatment with little or no manual intervention, usually through some non-page specific formatting such as CSS or other technology. Look to these methods for implementing a solid mobile viewable option.

As far as SMS messages go, the best option is to integrate them with other electronic delivery options you may already use. For example, if, like many companies, you provide email alerts, designing your SMS system to provide a snippet of the email alert would avoid duplicating efforts. Assuming your email alert system is already compliant for issues like timing, piggy backing your text messaging on it should keep it in line as well.

As always, the key is to provide relevant, timely information to investors. With a mobile formatted page and SMS alerts, there are two new ways to do just that.

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Brian is a small business owner, consultant and freelance writer. Brian began his professional career in the computer industry as a consultant where he became keenly aware of the internal workings of companies from Fortune 100 giants to small two-man shops. While working with a mutual fund company, Brian developed a strong interest in finance and became a Certified Financial Planner. As a financial professional, Brian specialized in working with small business owners. Brian is the co-founder of ArcticLlama, LLC a premier business writing and consulting firm. He also runs a real world personal finance blog. Brian lives in Denver with his wife and daughter.
 
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