Putting GraphCall into words is a challenge – it’s a tool that needs to be seen to be fully understood. Essentially, this is a new medium that combines PDFs with video overlays and mind-map thinking to create a ‘live’ version of results or analyst notes, for example, or a more data-rich version of videos.
Co-founder and former buy-sider Geoffrey Fouvry explains that the technology – described as ‘augmented media’ – uses augmented reality ‘in much the same way as Pokémon Go’ to layer narration over a standard PDF and so create a ‘live’ document. Using your own webcam to narrate a document, GraphCall automatically creates a link with the overlay, cutting out editing and production time in the process.
The result is a video narrative of your PDF that allows you to guide the reader, highlight certain elements of the document or even record your CEO answering frequently asked questions related to relevant segments of the annual report. When the video is paused, the PDF is simply a PDF again and the user is free to roam around as he or she wishes.
So how did Fouvry, co-founder Marc Lebreton, CTO Marcus Santos and the team come up with what appears to be a completely new format? ‘When I worked on the buy side, we received a lot of documents, a lot of PDFs, and we had to process all that information very quickly,’ explains Fouvry. ‘I wondered what we could do to process this information better and we realized that what we really needed was something that works as closely as possible to how people think.’
The way people store information in their heads is not the same as computers, of course, and numerous charts of financial results aren’t necessarily the best way to get your message across – even though the numbers remain essential, Fouvry says. He uses the example of a person being able to recall a lot more information from a bible passage than from two Excel columns filled with names and phone numbers – despite there being much more data in a story. What Fouvry aims for with GraphCall is a format that works in synch with the way people process information, combining the data from a PDF with the human narrative of video.
Designed with financial communications in mind, the format has seen take-up across everything from legal notes at law companies to a replacement for long internal emails that reference documents at Facebook Brazil – and is now also used by Colombian Securities Exchange too. And Fouvry is keen to stress the benefits it can offer investor relations. ‘I have seen a lot of IR videos that take many days to create, they’re very expensive and you don’t have a document with data – when you pause, you have a frozen video and the information investors get is quite poor,’ he says.
What’s more, GraphCall offers analytics. ‘It can track viewership per page through timestamps on our servers,’ says Fouvry. ‘IR managers will know what page was ignored and what page grabbed attention, in order to refine their message.’
This is a truly innovative product that needs to be seen to be believed.
José Luis Cossio, a financial derivatives analyst at the Colombian Securities Exchange, using GraphCall to annotate a report