Tablet Use Skyrockets
Issuers Must Adapt To Remain Compliant
Rhoda Anderson, CEO of EZOnlineDocuments, LLC
The advent of tablet and mobile technology continues to change the landscape of shareholder communication. Incredibly, already 34% of consumers are using tablets1 and issuers need to support their usage habits.
Issuers, however, also need to be aware of the differences between tablet and computer technologies—and they are major. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding can lead to issuers falling out of SEC compliance and alienating their tablet users.
Tablet Technology Different
At first glance it may seem simple that a user can access a website and pull up an important document or download a PDF onto their tablet. However, from a technical standpoint, websites and PDFs don’t always function the same way on a tablet. The issuer must ask: “is this compliant?”; “can the shareholder easily access the information?” In reality, the documents may not allow for proper navigation or searching. Downloads, apps, plug-ins or other software are often needed to view the documents. A shareholder could easily become frustrated with installing an app or program. To complicate matters further, the issuer must be sure that such a download is compliant and doesn’t track the investor to the site.
The SEC rules for online documents also states the intention of the rules (among others) is: “to improve the efficiency of the proxy process and shareholder communications2.” While some online formats may provide for the bare necessities, it is not in the “true spirit” of the law if it is too complicated for the shareholder to get the desired information. Shareholders should have the simplest way to access, search and view key information. Now, with the increasing use of tablets, the game is changing.
According to a 2012 study by Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc., tablet use is projected to grow another 34% in the next two years1. In the same study, 66% vs. 28% of responders preferred tablets over computers. The tablets users are sure to have different expectations than the shareholders preferring paper or traditional computers. Everything from touch screens to graphics—right down to the basic functionality—is different. If the issuer’s document is not fully translatable to the tablet world, they also run a risk of alienating the most progressive shareholders and not satisfying SEC regulations.
Tablets, Tiles, Swiping, and More
And with the growth of this technology, comes the new tile interfaces supported by the major operating systems. The tile system provides a much easier way to navigate a touch screen and is being adapted rapidly by systems developers. It is a whole new dynamic in shareholder communication. In addition, tablet users are accustomed to being able to turn the page with a swipe of their finger. And, of course, tablet users need to be able to search for information.
Test the documents yourself!
Issuers need to test their documents for tablet users—an easy, yet necessary task. Is the document easy to use? Is it searchable? If it is not, then be sure to address those concerns. The fast-growing tablet user base will appreciate it.
About EZOnlineDocuments and its newest tablet features:
EZOnlineDocuments has been the leader in online document conversion for materials—proxies, annual reports, 10-Ks, mutual funds and more—since 1998. EZOnlineDocuments has now introduced new tablet features including EZOnlineTiles, page swiping and more—in addition to also supporting all other features including tab-based menus and full-text searching.