Videoconferencing uptake driven by unexpected events
It’s a situation familiar to most IROs: a last-minute emergency means suddenly your executive team is not where you need it to be. In one such instance, an IRO at a mega-cap US healthcare company had embarked on a long-planned marketing trip to Boston. The CEO was due to join the trip at the last minute after dealing with a major announcement but the flight was delayed by inclement weather.
Knowing that Boston investors were expecting to meet the company CEO and the executive calendar was already fully booked for months to come, the IRO turned to videoconferencing to solve his problem. While the IRO, CFO and several major investors were in Boston, the CEO joined them via video link to field questions about the announcement.
Using such technology is becoming more common in the investor relations space. A white paper published by videoconferencing firm Polycom reports that the communication method was the fastest growing business service in 2013, with an estimated 37.4 mn users around the world. This is expected to grow to more than 200 mn in the next five years.
Stats released by OpenExchange, the platform used in the example above, show a 225 percent jump in the number of individual and small group meetings using videoconferencing software in August. Users routinely involve the C-suite in their online interactions, reports OpenExchange, with 90 percent of issuer meetings on its platform including a company executive.
For the company in Boston, videoconferencing also accounts for an increasing proportion of roadshow activity. ‘It reduces travel for executives and saves money,’ explains a senior IR analyst at the firm. ‘Executives are able to meet with multiple firms at once from locations all over the world from our corporate headquarters. Analysts and the investment community are pleased they are able to get ‘face time’ with our executives without being in the same room.’
Mark Loehr, CEO at OpenExchange, believes such use is evidence of the expanding influence of video communication in IR. ‘It shows the power of the solution, and we’re seeing more and more examples of it,’ he says.
‘Analysts are also embracing this platform to meet with investors in a more real-time fashion,’ adds Nicole Maselli, OpenExchange’s vice president of sales. ‘They can reach out to investors over video to discuss a ratings change, hot sector news, and the like.