New options for IROs who want to connect via video
Since its commercial introduction in 1982, videoconferencing has offered the promise of better productivity and deeper, more meaningful communication. For many, however, the promise has remained just that and IROs have been among those most reluctant to adopt the technology, citing problems with reliability, security, interconnectivity and ease of use.
Yet a revolution is under way. And like many revolutions, the swelling wave of change remains largely unseen until, curling into an arch, it breaks onshore. Such is the case with videoconferencing today. Ubiquitous in the consumer sector, modern videoconferencing is being swiftly deployed as a daily work tool at the enterprise level. For their part, IROs, a naturally conservative bunch, are waking up to the sounds of a crashing ocean of change.
Among those at the forefront of the IR videoconferencing wave is OpenExchange, a community-based video collaboration platform targeted exclusively to investor communications. Over the last three years, OpenExchange has been bringing together a growing number of fund managers, investment banks and public companies through a secure, cloud-based portal.
Users can search a global directory of financial services professionals, schedule video meetings, and meet over a wide range of video endpoints, including desktops, laptops, videoconference rooms and mobile devices.
Indeed, OpenExchange’s calling card has always been its ability to facilitate outreach within the financial community by overcoming many of the obstacles that have traditionally hindered videoconferencing adoption.
Now, say company officials, product enhancements have made OpenExchange an even more appealing resource for busy IROs. Version 3.0 of the platform features updates including better mobile capabilities, a simplified invite system and the ability to speed dial several people at the same time.
‘OpenExchange is now so simple and intuitive that even a CEO could use it,’ quips Mark Loehr, CEO of OpenExchange. ‘We’re set for our busiest week ever and that’s a reflection of the new application’s ability to find and quickly connect with people across devices and technologies.’
Loehr adds that virtual meeting momentum has been growing in recent months with research analysts leading meetings, corporate access teams organizing events, and companies conducting pre-IPO roadshows and post-earnings calls with key investors. ‘We are doing a lot of teach-ins with large organizations,’ he says. ‘People tell us our network is built out enough and our product mature enough that they want to drive it deeper into their institution.’
‘This release really establishes the foundational platform for our company,’ says Doug Ashton, OpenExchange founder and vice president of product development. ‘The usability, performance and connectivity is where we need it to be. Now we can start to really lay on the bells and whistles.’
Ashton remains coy about precisely what additions are planned but says future releases, expected to be rolled out this summer, will target specific financial meeting management workflows and business processes.
Ashton believes IR is at the cusp of a sea change. ‘The question people ask me is no longer: Why is videoconferencing worth it? Now they are asking: How can I embrace it?,’ he says. ‘We’ve reached a tipping point. Video is coming and it’s going to be huge.’
If Ashton is right, perhaps the next question for IROs will be: ‘Why am I flying to Minneapolis?’