Financial reports or statements of a company provide a snapshot of how the income and expenses have affected the company and its stakeholders over a specific period of time. These statements exhibit the financial standing of the business. Annual reports are published on a yearly basis and sent to the company’s stakeholders and other parties. An annual report consolidates all the year’s operations and gives a glimpse of the organization’s viewpoint in the upcoming year as well as its position in the industry.
Apart from providing information on how the company has been performing and how it expects to grow in the future, an annual report is considered as a major marketing and promotional tool. A lot of companies focus on various aspects of the annual report in order to make it more appealing to new investors and customers. It is best to consider the annual report as a platform through which a company can influence, preach, relate and discuss various aspects related to the business.
Companies have realized that a monotonous report is immensely boring and difficult to understand leading them to the question - “Are the target audiences going to read and understand the company’s message?” The challenge for producers of annual reports is to publish relevant information in an understandable fashion while simultaneously communicating the company's primary message. In recent years, companies have also chosen to make their annual reports available in a variety of electronic media (CDs, websites). More companies have started to go beyond the print only/pdf format and are presenting the information online in other ways. When stepping into the world of infographics and interactive annual reports, the big question in front of companies is - “How to make an interactive annual report?”
While the pdf format limits editing (adding/removing) content with ease, IT service providers incorporate online technologies to generate engaging presentations of the report contents, by including creative infographics, responsive web designs (where the report would automatically fit the screen of any mobile device), adding embedded videos and links to the company website. The market is flooded with companies and apps that assist you in generating an interactive annual report. Going digital is simple, economic and provides an optimal comfort of reading for the companies stakeholders by enlivening the experience of an annual report.
A step ahead in the interactive annual reports is the ‘Connected Annual Report’, where apart from embedded videos, it offers great features like ‘Text-to-Speech’ where an individual can listen to the annual report content on the go! A connected annual report enables readers to compare and evaluate based upon selected factors in the financial charts year wise. Readers can also provide comments and feedback directly to the company. It can be connected across various platforms (iOS, Android, Web HTML 5) and devices (tablets, smart phones and PCs). A lot of companies recommend a combination of HTML 5 App+ HTML 5 web for generating an interactive annual report.
The digital content created can be repurposed by using the videos on the company’s website and/or presentations which add more value. These reports are evolving rapidly by taking notes from one another and generating new patterns. Most frequent content strategies seen in the best annual reports are:
- Use of interactive elements
- Highlight the case studies of the company
- Narrate a story throughout
- Showcase impressive stats early on
- Showcase customer stats
Interactive/Connected annual reports have even succeeded in catching an even wider audience apart from the usual dedicated consumers. In 2011, came One-Page reports where companies even delivered their organization’s recap via Instagram. This has added yet another dimension to the annual reports. This move from paper to screen is a result of the creativity wars among designers. Going forward, it will be interesting to watch the new trends in this space to get more eyeballs!