The beauty of a blog is that we can cover a variety of topics. If you're a regular reader, you know we discuss everything from regulatory updates to survey trends to best practices to communication strategies and on and on. So it shouldn't surprise you that in today's blog, I'm tackling technology -- but not the typical manage-your-stock-plan-recordkeeping type of technology. Our focus today is on going mobile - exploring where you can find stock compensation content or resources on your mobile device.
Unless you've been under a rock (no, not even under a rock, let's say living in a cave in a remote corner of the world) for the past several years, you know that most of us just can't live without our mobile devices - smartphones, tablets - you know the choices. Fittingly, I just saw an article yesterday that reported results of a recent survey. About 1,000 Europeans were asked if given the choice of ditching their smartphones or alcohol for a week, which would they choose? The majority (58%) of respondents went with giving up the booze and keeping their smartphones. A similar 2011 survey of Americans reported that 70% would rather go without alcohol than their smartphone, and 40% would give up their shoes to keep their smartphone. Earlier this year, for the first time ever, mobile app usage overtook PC usage. Okay, so today's blog is not really about smartphone trends, but the point is that these devices are becoming a primary source of accessing information - at a rapid rate. So if you have a mobile device and are in the "can't live without it" camp, then you may be interested in some of the mobile content that's specific to equity compensation. Today I'll tour a few of the offerings.
The Cool Kids are Listening to Podcasts
First, I must address the question: "What's a podcast?" It's quite simple, actually - "a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet." (Merriam Webster) Podcasts are published in episodes, so you can download individual episodes or all of them. You can choose to subscribe or not subscribe. Today there are thousands of podcasts, and many are free. On iTunes all podcasts are currently free (not sure about Google play, but I know many are free there, too). From what I've seen, most of the podcast episodes are on the short side - definitely shorter than a webcast and anywhere from a few minutes to 30 or 40 minutes. How do you access podcasts? If you're an Apple user (iPhone, iPad, etc.) then newer devices have Apple's purple "podcast" app already installed. There are also a variety of other podcast apps available through the App Store. You can also head straight to the iTunes Store to explore the wealth of podcasts. Android users can also download apps that will lead you to podcast content via Google play.
You've got a podcast app, now what? What is out there in terms of stock compensation podcast content? Well, for starters, the NASPP has our own podcast series called Equity Expert. It's entirely free, and you can access episodes direct from our website or via one of the podcast apps (non Apple users should make sure their podcast service taps into iTunes, where the Equity Expert podcast is presently housed). Searching for equity compensation, I found other podcasts as well. For example, PwC in Canada has a whole series called Tax Tracks (they also have another series for Hong Kong/China). While the content is more tailored to the internal Directors at PwC and how to handle certain tax scenarios, there was a gold mine of information that relates to equity compensation - there are 4 episodes alone on business travelers (a widely under-tracked mobile population). This podcast's content is specific to Canada, but if you have employees in Canada or are a Canadian entity, there could be some interesting topics. Of course, consult with your advisers before using any information gleaned from the podcasts - but the point is that there is a lot of information out there and freely available.
Think of all the places you could listen to this portable podcast content. Ever since the NASPP launched our Equity Expert podcast series, I've become somewhat of a podcast junkie. My drives to do daily errands now feature one of the many podcast episodes downloaded to my iPhone. At the gym sometimes I forgo the music to listen to a podcast. On an airplane? The podcasts download automatically to your device if you allow it in your settings, so I had plenty of choices to pass the time on a recent flight. I guess you could say I've become a podcast nerd (or cool kid, take your pick). The choices are really limitless. Join me!
Mobile Apps- Get the Latest
We are seeing more and more mobile apps tailored to content in our industry. Some of them include:
Baker & McKenzie's Global Equity Matrix is available for your mobile device. Select a country (there are 50 to choose from) and immediately tap into specific information on taxation, securities restrictions, exchange controls, plan entitlement and data privacy for that jurisdiction. The app covers stock options, restricted stock awards/units and ESPP. Available in the Apple App Store or Google Play (free).
myStockOptions.com's Stock Compensation Glossary App: Newly released, this app is great tool for your participants (actually, I think it could be useful to the stock administrator as well). Users can get the definition of many stock compensation terms, and there is even a quiz element where one can further test and expand their education knowledge. Available in the Apple App Store (free).
Service Provider Apps: I think the time is coming where service providers will soon have apps that allow participants to access their stock plan data online and execute transactions. I know Fidelity already does (NetBenefits, available in the Apple App Store or on Google Play).
Internal App Store?
It's my belief that the company Intranet will eventually morph into an internal app store of sorts. Not just for equity compensation information, but for a variety of business tool uses and purposes. As communication practices and participant resources are evaluated, why not consider an app?
Got an App?
If you've got mobile content that you want to share with the industry, send me a note! It's tough to stay on top of all the emerging avenues to digest information, so I'm happy to continue to report on anything discovered in this area.
Happy app downloading and podcast listening to all!
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