Financial reporting done well used to be about complying with legal requirements. As a result, months of work and dedication from report writers ended up turning into a long and cumbersome print document that was eventually forgotten. With digitalization, annual reports are gaining visibility and attracting investors. But is digitizing the right step for your company’s annual report? Or is it just the next fashionable perk to have?
Annual or quarterly reports are increasingly going digital, especially in companies with multinational stakeholders. There is a wide range of possibilities that reach far beyond a simple PDF. But what is the best strategy to adopt when preparing to go down this path? And, more importantly, is it the right path for your business? In this article, we cover the main pros and cons of digital reports, based on recent research and the advice of experts.
What are the benefits of digital annual or quarterly reporting?
Imagine being a potential investor, a job applicant or even a curious customer trying to find just the right company for them. You will immediately identify the importance of having access to digestible, data-based financial information. From this viewpoint, the difference between a traditional, print annual report and a digital one is quite easy to see.
With the latter, you would be able to learn all about each business’ financial performance from the comfort of your computer or device, while also selecting the exact type of data you need. You might want to hear or watch testimonies of their leaders and employees and have a feel for the company’s culture. A digital report could give you chance to download stats onto a spreadsheet of your choosing, whereby you could create your own graphics and share them with other stakeholders.
More importantly, you would be able to simply search for that file on your computer with a simple click. What we have just described is the perspective of your report readers. The benefits for them are many — let’s take a look:
Readability or view-ability
Because digitizing allows for a user-friendly presentation, your readers can avoid skimming through pages of non-personalized information. They can receive succinct information that is easy to read and quick to understand, with analyses and explanations of abstract statistics. The possibility of adding video, static imagery and other content formats onto your report is an added perk that can bring your report to life and make your readers’ lives a lot easier.
Via the use of a segmented recipient list, companies can highlight specific information for each of their stakeholder groups. In this situation, a potential investor or partner would be directed to a different section of your report than a list of potential employees. Thanks to the use of digital tools, the full report can still be browsed at will. This allows for compliance and user experience to be integrated in one report.
Ease of use
Unlike the traditional print or PDF version, a digitized report can be easily found online at any time. It can also be downloaded and saved as a specific type of file (such as .csv in some cases) and then re-used for different purposes, such as comparing statistics and creating personalized graphs. The digital report is much more versatile and adjustable to countless user needs. Unsurprisingly, this leads to readers spending more time interacting with and taking in the information you have to share with them.
How to know if your company needs to digitize
All advantages considered, digitizing your annual or quarterly reports may not be your best move for the time being. Especially if upper management is not on board, the process could lead to an expensive dead end. Here are a few factors that may help you make a decision:
If you wish to expand your stakeholder group
Are you looking to diversify your product line or venture into international markets? Because of its customization capabilities and the fact that it can be leveraged as a marketing tool, a digital annual report could be right for you in this scenario.
If you need to track and measure your audience’s interests
Have you noticed your impact or success tends to go unnoticed among your stakeholders? Because of the monitoring possibilities that digital reporting provides, you can keep track of your audience’s interaction with the information you provide. This can help you improve their experience in the future and even learn to predict their likes and dislikes.
If your competition is digitally savvy
Is your industry all about digital? Are your competitors showing off with shiny new digital reports? Then it may be time for you to step up your game as well. Keeping an eye on the latest reporting trends in your sector is advisable at any time, but it can be especially helpful in getting buy-in from management. Also, because of the multimedia content and storytelling resources you may involve in the process, you can also use your reports as a platform for differentiation.
Global businesses mean multilingual reporting: we’ve got you
With a global stakeholder group, creating multilingual and multi-localized financial statements is a requirement. And we won’t lie; translating and localizing information such as your financial reporting can feel like a daunting endeavor. The challenges are plenty, but there are just as many solutions:
- Financial expertise: Because of the sensitive information involved, you need to ensure your translation partners are experts in the financial field.
- Project Management: In creating a multilingual, digital annual report, many departments will be involved. Careful integration of all project areas can only be achieved through strategic planning. A localization expert can provide just the platform required.
- Multimedia content: You’ll need to keep text, images, videos, charts, gifs and audio in mind. A single language services partner that can create, edit, translate and proofread all of the languages of your business will bring coherence and precision to your annual and quarterly reports.
This is why an expert language services provider such as Stillman Translations can give you the peace of mind to dive into the era of digitized reporting.