What “Paperless Reporting” really means

「無紙化報告」的真正含義

The common practice of going “paperless” is to replace hardcopies with PDFs. However, the experience is usually more ideal within a desktop computer but less so on mobile devices. A PDF document when opened in a smartphone would look like this:

要做到「無紙化」,最普遍的做法是以PDF文檔取代列印文件。一般而言,於桌面電腦閱讀PDF文檔最為理想,但在流動裝置上卻並不如此。當使用智能手機打開PDF文檔時會像這樣:

Viewing a PDF document in smartphones
We embrace the concept of “paperless reporting” because it helps conserve the environment; but isn’t distributing a document which was made to be printable a bit contradictory?
我們採納「無紙化報告」的概念是為了有助保護環境,但這會否與發行本身為列印而設的文檔相互抵觸?

Paperless Reporting should no longer be misrepresented by “flippable” e-books made from PDFs. Instead, the 21st century approach should be developing HTML Reports for the following reasons:

無紙化報告不應再被誤解為PDF文檔製作成「可翻頁」的電子書。相反,在21世紀,報告應採用HTML網站的方式呈現,原因有以下幾點:

1. Browsing trumps reading

「瀏覽」勝過「閱讀」

With information constantly feeding into our mailboxes and social media feeds, we have shifted into a habit of just reading headlines, skimming through content, embracing infographics and other multimedia content. We have moved away from reading chunky paragraphs of text but seek for shortcuts to acquire all necessary information. These “shortcuts” could be to export financial figures into spreadsheets with a click of a button, to view a two-minute speech by the CEO in place of the Executive Summary, or to compare and compute figures using charting tools. Our behaviors in obtaining information have changed, and being interactive cannot be achieved via text-heavy PDFs.

隨著資訊不斷地傳送到我們的郵箱和社交媒體平台,我們吸收資訊的習慣已轉變成只閱讀標題、略讀內容、偏好訊息圖表和其他多媒體內容等。我們不再閱讀繁重的段落,並開始尋找捷徑來獲取所有必要的資訊。這些「捷徑」可以是透過點擊一個按鈕直接匯出相關的財務數據到電子計算表、觀看行政總裁兩分鐘的演講瞭解重點精華、利用數碼圖表工具比較及計算數據等。我們獲取信息的行為已經改變,並逐漸趨向互動化,不能再通過文字為主的PDF文檔來實現。

Video interview with Albert M. Baehny (Chairman of Geberit AG’s BoD) embedded within their Annual Report 2015

2. We are always holding onto our smartphones (with one hand)

現代人都「機不離手」

Admit it, the thought of a gadget-free day scares you. Our personal and work lives are now so dependent on smartphones and they have become the main device we use to browse content. Some of us even browse with just one hand, which makes it impossible to zoom in and out of a PDF file or a website not developed with Responsive Web Design (RWD) technology. New-age annual reports should be developed in HTML with RWD, ensuring they are mobile-compatible.

試想像沒有手機隨身的一天,相信已經令您很不安吧。我們在生活和工作上都非常依賴智能手機,它亦成為我們瀏覽資訊的主要裝置。有些人甚至只習慣單手操作手機,因此無法方便地放大及縮小PDF文檔或瀏覽沒有採用響應式網頁設計(RWD)技術的網頁。新時代的年度報告應同時採用HTML及RWD的方式呈現,確保流動裝置的相容性。

CITIC Limited (中信股份)’s Annual Report 2015 developed with Responsive Web Design technology

3. Web links (URLs) allow for timely and easy sharing

網站鏈結(URL)容易與人即時分享

E-mails have revolutionized our way of communication since the 1990s, yet new channels continue to appear. We are now more accustomed to receiving information via messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and LINE; or via social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only are sharing URLs a more time-efficient way to provide information, the brief snippets also create an enticing feeling to the content. In addition, it is not possible to share selected pages within your 100-page report independently, but now you can do so using URLs.

電子郵件在90年代已經徹底改變了我們的溝通模式,而至今仍有新的溝通管道不斷湧現。我們現在更習慣於WhatsApp、微信、LINE等即時通訊應用程式,或於Facebook、LinkedIn等社交媒體接收資訊。透過分享網站鏈結來傳遞資訊不僅是一個高效率的方式,分享鏈結時的內容摘要亦能令資訊更有吸引力。此外,PDF文檔並不支援單獨分享報告中某些頁面或部分,但利用網站鏈結便可達到此目的。

Sharing URL of BMW Group’s Annual Report 2015 on Facebook (left); Convenient viewing of ANTA Sports’ 2015 Results Highlights within WeChat application (right)

4. Identify and understand your readership

識別和瞭解您的讀者群

After all the hard work in compiling all the content for your reports, it would be great to learn if your viewers enjoyed them. We often think that feedback could only be received verbally or in written form, yet analytics applications can now be embedded into HTML reports to track traffic and duration of viewing on the back-end. You can find out which sections of your report are more interesting, where your viewers are located, how they found out about your report etc. All these data can provide insightful findings when producing and distributing future reports.

經歷一連串編制報告內容的辛勤工作後,您當然想瞭解讀者對其內容喜歡與否。以往我們常認為意見只能口頭上或以書面形式收集,但現在我們可以把到訪資料統計嵌入到HTML報告中,在後台追溯瀏覽量和瀏覽持續時間等記錄。您亦可以找出報告內哪些部分較為吸引讀者、讀者的地域分佈、從甚麼途徑得知您的報告等,所有深度的數據均可協助您更有效地製作及發佈將來的報告。

Piwik web analytics application running on the back-end

In fact, “Paperless Reporting” has been an IR standard in the U.S. and has recently been enforced as a requirement by the SGX in Asia. We believe it won’t take long for this to become a global standard/requirement; yet we urge that IR managers put in extra effort to think what does “Paperless Reporting” really mean and in what format it should be done to ensure meaningful and valuable usage.

事實上,「無紙化報告」已立入美國的投資者關係準則,最近新加坡交易所亦都強制實施。我們相信不久的將來這會成為一個全球性的準則/規定,所以我們敦促投資者關係經理投放更多的精力思考「無紙化報告」的真正含義和應以何種方式呈現以確保其意義及價值。

EQS Group was founded in 2000, and has since grown to be a leading global provider of digital solutions for investor relations. EQS works with many stock-listed companies around the world to create the web-version of their annual reports. Within Asia Pacific, EQS operates offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, serving over 500 companies in the region. Contact us to learn more: asia_info@eqs.com.