On June 13, 2019, the 10th edition of the Annual Report Symposium was held at the GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Rüschlikon/Zurich under the motto “Reporting is not enough.” Around 300 guests and more than 20 speakers from the communications, investor relations, finance, sustainability, and governance industries discussed current trends in corporate reporting.
What did we learn at the symposium? Attendees discussed how communication technology is a key driver coming increasingly under the influence of artificial intelligence. Both annual report publishers and readers agree that artificial intelligence will bring profound changes to the corporate reporting model.
Read on for a recap of the topics and trends that were front-of-mind for attendees.
Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation
As it is across industries, artificial intelligence and its effects on corporate reporting was the topic du jour at the symposium. In his presentation “What are investors really looking for?” Ed Cook, Managing Director of BlackRock, confirmed that his investment teams partly rely on machine intelligence when analyzing annual results. This revelation inspired moderator Patrizia Laeri to make this somewhat provocative sound byte: “Annual reports: written by people, read by machines.”
In the Best Practice session entitled “When Siri knows more than the company: tone management and AI,” Philipp Grochowski from PRECIRE Technologies explained what the future of reception-oriented communication could look like. In this potential future, analysts could examine data sets from oral or written communication for their psychological effects. This would allow professionals to derive parameters and analysis algorithms that could predict the effects of speeches and texts.
Digitization is set to both transform and disrupt the culture of reporting. Companies will need to constantly embrace new knowledge as they come to grips with rising volumes of data and ever-changing software solutions.
Human to Human
Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter, founding partner and CEO of Forma Futura Invest AG and VRP Berner Kantonalbank AG, provided some contrast to this absolute focus on technology with her talk on the subject of “Long-term success: the Board of Directors’ responsibility.” According to her, “the important thing is to be the kind of person on a board of directors who, rather than simply nodding things through, also questions them. A board of directors is also a board of co-creators.”
Prof. Dr. Christof E. Ehrhart, Executive Vice President Corporate Communications & Governmental Affairs at Robert Bosch GmbH, also presented a rather traditional perspective in his presentation, “Corporate communication in the post-modern age.” He posits that trust, which is in scarce supply between companies and their customers, is best preserved in an environment in which people can interact transparently and on an equal footing.
Both regulators and investors demand that companies showcase evidence of good citizenship. The best way of countering the growing external pressure is to respond to the challenges and adopt a holistic approach to corporate reporting.
By working together with Lionbridge, you can count on a reliable partner for your global multilingual communications solutions.
A Successful Mix
Congratulations to the CCR team for this successful anniversary edition of the Annual Report Symposium. This year’s was another great event based on the proven mix of relevant practical knowledge, new trends, relationships within the reporting community and, last but not least, the festive setting at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.
We’re glad we could offer participants a moment to relax and unwind with our massage station.
To companies grappling with annual report creation and translation: With Lionbridge as a partner, you can look ahead to your next annual report with confidence.
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