Most innovative annual report in the Netherlands: integrated, visually appealing, and accessible

Most innovative annual report in the Netherlands: integrated, visually appealing, and accessible

A growing number of companies have embraced the practice of integrated reporting. Instead of publishing separate annual reports and sustainability reports, they integrate the two into a single publication. More than 50% of Dutch AEX-listed companies currently publish an integrated annual report. But how do you keep such a large amount of content manageable? How do you turn an integrated report into an accessible report and – above all – how do you make sure it retains its appeal to readers? Schiphol Group (more than 2,000 employees and with revenue of around €1.5 billion) and C&F Report found the solution together. Schiphol Group’s 2014 annual report was rewarded by the Jury of the Transparency Benchmark with De Kristal (the Crystal), the award for the most innovative annual report published in the Netherlands.

Value creation as the foundation
Value creation is a central focus in Schiphol Group’s annual report. C&F Report worked with Schiphol Group to create a ‘Why-What-How-Who-Value’ model to replace the traditional ‘Input-Added Value-Output-Outcome’ model. This model is presented to stakeholders looking to download the company’s annual report on the Schiphol reporting website. The model features icons for all key topics.

The company reports on the following topics:

  • Why: Mission, Ambition
  • What: the four strategy pillars of Schiphol Group: Top Connectivity, Excellent Visit Values, Competitive Marketplace, Development of the Group
  • How: the (special interactive) Business Model and the four Business Areas for operational reporting: Aviation, Consumer Products & Services, Real Estate and Alliances and Participations
  • Who: a clear overview of all the relevant stakeholders of Schiphol Group: Travellers, Airlines, Local Residents, Sector Partners, Government Bodies, Financial Stakeholders, Business Partners, Employees, Network and Special Interest Organisations and Knowledge Institutes
  • Value: Input, Output, Outcome

The online model takes on the form of a type of ‘radar’ which is visible in the vicinity of the airport. When visitors click on one of the reporting items, a special icon appears which visitors can then click to access deeper levels of information. The Aviation icon, for example (part of ‘How’) reveals the following information:

  • Destinations of cargo and passengers;
  • Number of passengers;
  • Cargo and freight transport;
  • Market share in terms of passengers (top 10 European airports);
  • Market share in terms of cargo (top 10 European airports).

Visual approach to reporting information
All this information is not contained in a table – instead, a separate icon is created for each reporting item. The key data are then displayed for each icon. This makes Schiphol’s online value creation model fast and easily accessible. In just three to four minutes, stakeholders can review all key reporting items and key data relating to Schiphol in a visually appealing format. The fully responsive model is also compatible with iPhone and iPad. In addition to this online value creation model, Schiphol Group also offers a separate reporting website and a PDF.
All visualisations contained in the online model, website and PDF are fully integrated and aligned with each other. This makes the Schiphol annual report a pleasure to read, as the visual guidance helps the reader to find information quickly, with the key priorities being recognisability and clarity.

How do we make reporting attractive?
Besides recognisability and clarity in all reporting formats, C&F Report and Schiphol Group have incorporated other features into the report. Here is a small selection:

  • Visual outline of Key Events
  • Visual outline (including standard icons) of Facts and Figures
  • Clear (partly visual) representation of key data in each Business Area
  • Creation of a visual model in which the supply chain in which Schiphol operates is clearly displayed, along with a link between the various chain components and the materiality themes shown in the materiality matrix
  • Visual materiality matrix including separate pictograms for the material issues explained separately
  • Cohesion schedule clarifying the relationship between material aspects, strategic schemes and risks
  • Management agenda (party in visual format) showing the division of the management goals across the five Business Areas (Aviation, Consumer Products & Services, Real Estate & Alliances and Participations)
  • A visually strategic objectives model for the year 2020 (‘Where will we be in 2020’)
  • A large amount of infographics and illustrations to keep the reporting information as simple and accessible as possible
  • Visual Corporate Governance model
  • Stakeholder quotes and dilemmas, including storytelling
  • Relevant images of recent changes in and around the airport

This mix of features makes the Schiphol Group annual report an interesting read and contributes substantially to improving the airport’s reputation.

Conclusion: KISP
Integrated reporting therefore involves more than combining a financial report and a sustainability report; it is about creating a visual reporting framework that is incorporated into an integrated report using a consistent signature style. A visual summary helps stakeholders to easily navigate the report. The integration of colours, visuals, infographics, graphs and, especially, icons and pictograms makes it possible to present the report’s message in a way that is attractive to readers. Therefore, C&F Report’s motto is KISP: Keep It as Simple as Possible.