“Scores on the Doors” – The Broadgate Brand Perception Survey Results

Posted on : 27-05-2015 | By : Jack.Rawden | In : General News

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Recently Broadgate kicked off an internal initiative to try and gauge the “Broadgate” brand and it’s perception across its stakeholders.  In March a survey was distributed and responses flowed thick and fast.  Respondents were from a variety of groups, from clients to partners, associates, rivals – even one of Broadgates director’s mothers.  If you were one of the people that took the time to respond, thank you.

Survey Aims

Since 2008 Broadgate has been providing Technology and Business Services to a range of institutions.  A decision was made in January this year to see if Broadgate could gain an understanding of how it is viewed by its stakeholders. As a company we were keen to get a feel for:-

  • How the Broadgate “Brand” is seen and what is associated with it
  • If there are any gaps in services Broadgate are currently providing
  • Our Communication Channels, how people use them and the content
  • If there is anything that Broadgate should be improving

Results from the survey were combined, analysed and key trends/themes emerged. Broadgate has taken valuable insight from this and some of the findings are included below.

Broadgate Brand Quotes

Communication

Broadgates communication channels have been generally well received.  Stakeholders have reviewed the Broadgate twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, website, blog and newsletter.  In general the level, detail and frequency of communication was good and as part of the process Broadgate will continue to develop these, particularly the newsletter to keep content informative and relevant. In the near future the newsletter will receive an updated look and we will strive to continue to produce informative, relevant and forward thinking articles.  There will also be a push to improve the social media content, so if you don’t already, follow Broadgate on LinkedIn, Twitter and soon Google +.

Brand Perception

The good news for Broadgate is that the Broadgate name and brand is overall perceived well.  Trust, knowledge and strengths all scored highly.  This is something that as a company we will endeavour to keep and improve as Broadgate grows.

A few comments that came from the survey associated Broadgate as being “Credible”, “Un-biased”, “Knowledgeable”, “Delivers Value”, “Experienced” and “Flexible”.  From a Broadgate perspective this aligns with Broadgate’s “Core Values” and what we pride ourselves as some of our key strengths.  We will continue to work to these “Core Values” and ensure that our standards don’t slip.

Could improve

The survey did highlight some areas in which Broadgate can improve and work has been started to try and improve these areas.  Broadgate has a social media presence, however, respondents to the survey did not view or engage with the content.  Broadgate also needs to improve visibility on its core technical strengths between groups.  Certain groups see Broadgate differently to one another, which means there is an issue with the way Broadgate is communicating its core skills and values.  Work has already started on both of these areas and hopefully these will be resolved in the near future.

Overall the survey has been a success, things that Broadgate are doing well will be the core values for Broadgate as it progresses and expands further.  Areas for improvement will be addressed and plans are in place to try and remediate them.  All feedback received has been taken on board and will used to improve the level of services Broadgate provide.

Calling the General Election

Posted on : 31-03-2015 | By : richard.gale | In : General News

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With the General Election now only 37 days away, can we harness new technology and the “wisdom” of social media crowd to help call it?

 

Big Data and Sentiment Analysis

 

In the run up to the election you will hear a lot about the power of big data and sentiment analysis, for example in this announcement from TCS.

The technology behind this and similar projects is undoubtedly clever, although I do think the state of the art in sentiment analysis is being overplayed – I recently attended a talk by a professor of computational linguistics who revealed that it helps with their currently not very effective sentiment analysis of twitter if people include emoticons in their messages!

However this attempt to benefit from the “Wisdom of the Crowd” (often cited as a rationale) is doomed for a reason that is as old as computing itself:

 

“Garbage in, Garbage out”

 

The sample set of political tweets will largely encompass two analytically unhelpful groups; political activists, who are the least likely to change their vote and the young who are least likely to vote in the first place!

Indeed, at the close of the Scottish referendum campaign, the SNP were convinced that they had won by a good margin off the back of analysis based partly on trends in social media.

(This is different to the US Republicans in 2012 who, at the close of the presidential campaign, also thought they had won but based on no data at all from the non-working system that they had built. This is not relevant to the current discussion except that both instances led to a narrative of the vote being “stolen” developing amongst true believers but I include the aside as I think this article is required reading on how not to roll-out a project to non-technical users)

 

Opinion Polls

 

What about the more familiar opinion polls?

As the polling companies are always keen to tell us, polls provide a snapshot and not a predication.  This is true of course but the snapshot itself is not really a snapshot of how people will vote at that moment in time. It is a snapshot of how they answer the question “which party would you vote for if a General Election were held tomorrow”.

They subsequently give different answers when asked specifically about their constituency and different answers again when the local candidates are named. Liberal Democrats have found in their private polling of their stronghold seats (a fast dwindling set!) that naming the local candidate can make a 10-point difference in their favour (the incumbency effect) and indeed this is the glimmer of hope that they cling to this time round.

What opinion polls also cannot factor in is anything more than a rudimentary use of past knowledge of voter behaviour – polling firms do differ on how they allocate “Don’t know”s, either ignoring them altogether or reallocating a proportion of them based on declared past voting.

Of course this gives its own problems as people are inherently unreliable and misremember. For instance, when asked, far more people claim to have voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 than the total number of votes the party actually received.

 

Betting markets

 

Of course the one source that can take all the above and more into account including past knowledge and contemporary analysis is the betting markets.

In pre-internet days, the above was still true but easy access to information and on-line betting has supercharged this in terms of both numbers and overall quality.

In this case, the “Wisdom of the crowd”, often touted for things like sentiment analysis, does actually hold true because the crowd in this case are actually wise (unlike the twitterati), both individually and collectively.

Political betting is a niche pursuit and as such attracts both amateur and professional psephologists along with those with “inside” knowledge. This means that the weight of the money in the market is quite well informed.

 

Past-it First Past the Post

 

The importance of inside knowledge is magnified by a creaking voting system that means that national polls and sentiments are all well and good, but the real result lies in the hands of a hundred thousand odd voters in a handful of marginal constituencies.

This means that those will real insight are those on the ground and this time around, the proliferation of smaller parties eating into each of the main parties’ votes makes the situation even more volatile and local knowledge even more important. The constituency betting markets will be made by political activists on the ground with access to detailed internal canvass data.

So my advice would be to ignore the siren call of the new (social media) and the reassurance of the old (opinion polls) and just follow the money, the informed betting money that is.

 

This article was authored by Andrew Porrer of Heathwest Systems and represents his personal opinions. Andrew can be contacted at Andrew.Porrer@heathwest.com.

High Frequency Trading – Every Second counts – trading off speed against security

Posted on : 31-03-2014 | By : richard.gale | In : Cyber Security

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History – same principles different technology

High frequency trading (HFT) is the latest name for an old trading practice; Arbitrage – identifying & exploiting the difference between two markets or prices to make money. This relies on two basic factors – differences in price of the same commodity and communication mechanisms to transmit information between the markets with that price differential.

Where there is more than one opportunity to trade the same thing and there is a slight difference in price then there is money to made. In the ‘old’ days this could be between two markets selling, say, grain in different market towns. For various reasons (difference in the number of buyers/sellers that day or even the weather) then a bushel of corn could be $10 in one town and $12 in the next. Before fast communication methods this was just the way it was. With the advent of the telegraph, clever traders could buy on one market and sell on the other so making a clear profit on the difference.

Arbitrage developed into a significant trading tool and as communications improved it became faster and more sophisticated. The time differential in price shortened and the prices themselves grew closer together. When the telegraph (ticker tape) was introduced then the time gap could be minutes or hours. With high speed networks, seconds and then milliseconds became the difference between profit and loss.

Trends – Speed is all

HFT now is a major business. It is estimated that more than 30% of trades in some markets are executed by HFT systems. Some of the profits per pair of trades are very small but the number of transactions can make a significant amount of money.

Transaction speeds are way beyond the capabilities of human traders, black box systems pump thousands of trades through a second and are constantly charging and improving their trading models.  Firms spend serious amounts of money on the fastest possible hardware and networks. Stock and commodity exchanges have now created new profitable markets in selling space in their data centres to firms wanting to reduce latency to a minimum.

Some companies are going further, to shave 3 milliseconds off the data transmission times between New York & Chicago trading firms invested over $800m to build a direct fibre optic link. It’s an amazing story so take a look at this link to read more. There was some talk of boring through the earth to remove the extra distance required for the curvature of the earth – either way, unfortunately for them, another firm then built a series of line of site microwave links which effectively took them out of the market.  We actually wrote an article a few years back about a project we heard of which is taking this to the next level of speed….

With the transaction and reaction speeds measured in milliseconds then opportunities for errors magnify – there have been a number of noticeable spikes in volatility. The infamous Flash crash of 2010 where, in an already jittery market, the Dow Jones fell 600 points in 5 minutes only to recover half of that in the next 20 minutes was perhaps due to a ‘fat fingered’ trade (where someone added too many zeros) but the movement was magnified by the algorithmic computations taking advantage or defending losses on the rapid change in price.

The market is affected immediately by news feeds. This is nothing new but as new sources of information arrive the accuracy of them often isn’t checked until after the event.

It used to be that news was researched, verified and then printed and available in newspapers the next day. Radio & then television made this process much faster but information was generally verified, rolling news channels and their constant demand for events may have increased speed to live but potentially reduced accuracy.

There are ‘instant’ market data services such as Bloomberg and Reuters where trained journalists report and publish but now public messaging such as Facebook & Twitter allow anyone to publish virtually anything instantly without any verification of its accuracy.

Most trading firms treat the noise of Twitter as an additional influencer but not sole source of the truth. There is suspicion that some traders are feeding their HFT systems with raw feed data. This is what caused another mini crash when the Syrian free army hacked the Associated Press Twitter account and falsely reported an explosion at the White House.

Security – What could happen and is it actually possible?

So what are the security implications for HFT?  There appears to be a direct conflict of security versus speed. Any attempt to verify, encrypt or otherwise secure the HFT trades will inevitably slow down the messages so disadvantaging the firm that does this.

To counter this there is a level of security in the network. These are generally partitioned from the rest of the firm and often have their own physical wires and high speed routers to minimise ‘hops’ and the impact of other traffic. Beyond this are there other ways to ensure security and protect against possible attacks or breaches that could occur?

Slowing down rivals

The competitive advantage HFT have is getting the trades in faster than the opposition. An obvious way to do this would be to slow down the rival’s speed somehow. So if network speed could be reduced by, say putting additional traffic on the network or even carrying out a Denial of Service (DOS) attack to disrupt or disable the competition, it could present a significant (if illegal) trading window. In the same way, if the network could be reprogrammed to route elsewhere (maybe falsely alerting of a network failure in the main route) then the same thing could happen and the trades would arrive (too) late.

Modification

What if these attacks could be taken a step further? If a rival managed to change the code of a competitor they could introduce additional steps to slow the processing down. An extreme would be they could modify the amounts, security or even turn a buy into a sell. Fanciful maybe but not impossible.

What is perhaps more likely is that human error will cause these issues themselves. This has happened before, most significantly with Knight Capital when the wrong software was activated in  the live environment causing a $460m trading error and the eventual demise of the firm.

 

Can this dichotomy of the need for speed versus security ever be resolved? Anything which improves one will negatively impact the other.

Bring back the Ticker

The essential ingredient of HFT is a constantly moving price in more than one location that are out of synchronisation. With demand from traders, exchanges have improved their update speeds to the pointwhere the prices are constantly changing, instantly reacting to the changes in supply and demand. Some thought has been given to publishing the price on a regular basis in the way ‘ticker tape’ used to flow from telegraphs. If this was set at say once a second it would eliminate most of HFT’s reasons to exist. A nice idea but difficult to implement now the door has been opened and the massive investment in technology has been made.

Gentlemen’s agreements

Assuming that it is not possible to introduce additional steps into the in-line HFT trading process, is there another way to sort out the inevitable errors after the event? There are always trading errors and most organisations do enough business with each other to have informal agreements in place to resolve issues. Some exchanges also provide this service. However this did not help Knight Capital and may not help others in the future. If multiple trading parties have issues at the same time then the issue may have a systemic impact on the financial services and then the ‘real world’ soon after.

Legislation

There have been many calls for the cessation of HFT as it is considered destabilising, dangerous and out of control. Traders will always look to the next way to improve profits so if a way is found of closing down HFT then you can bet a similar successor system will arise. Ensuring enough reserves, liquidity and controls to manage the bumps and issues on the way is probably the best that can be hoped for.

 

We’ve been looking at HFT for a while now and it’s a fascinating area – pulling in the best brains from trading and technology. Michael Lewis – famous for his exposes of the financial world in Liar’s Poker published a book on the subject of HFT a couple of years back – it’s a great read!

 

Education – How can technology help?

Posted on : 28-03-2012 | By : richard.gale | In : General News

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The development of the Raspberry Pi, (a £30 computer designed to give the next generation of children programming skills) started a few of us at Broadgate thinking about technology and education – Are there ways that schools and other organisations could utilise some of the current technology trends?

 

Background

ICT in the classroom has changed radically over the last 30 years. In the 1980s there existed  ‘the school computer’ where a select group of students could spend lunch-times and evenings writing programmes in incomprehensible languages resulting in simple calculators or battleship type games. Now computers are embedded in homes, offices and schools – the UK GCSE ICT course now includes a full project management lifecycle study from initial requirements gathering to system implementation. Outside the classroom computers are used for all the usual business processes including pupil records, finance, scheduling and communications.

In the UK the Professor Steve Furber of Royal Society  criticised the skills of ICT teachers (for example only 35% have a specific qualification in the subject contrasting with 74% of maths teachers) and teaching and proposed the standalone subject be scrapped. He said that IT was so important it should be part of the core curriculum integrated into schools to improve digital literacy alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.

 

Our Broad Thoughts

Integrating technology into the core of the curriculum is key and we think the opportunities for technology to improve, accelerate and enhance the educational experience for both pupils and teachers are huge.

A few of our ideas are below and we’d welcome your thoughts on these and other areas.

 

1. Social Media – collaborative approach

This is an area were the pupils excel and, as a rule, are ahead of the teachers. These technical natives have grown up with technology and the use of social networks is a natural extension of them. They are used for updating friends, promoting themselves, discussing & arguing and sharing information. Are there ways schools can utilise this technology and more importantly energy & enthusiasm?

The key element of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc etc. is socialising and sharing ideas. Discussions started in the classroom can be extended to home/remote working. These often happen informally amongst pupils but could have added value if teachers could interact and assist. Schools could create ecosystems for collaborative working. Initially it may be difficult to attract pupils to the school created areas so a more successful approach may be for the pupils to create and teachers to join. Obviously there are risks to this but the idea that there be a shared area for thoughts and ideas without negativity in a safe space.

 

2. BYOD/Mobility – help or hindrance?

Many pupils now carry smartphones some are starting to carry iPads too. These can be viewed negatively from a school perspective as they can, at worst, be a distraction in class and potentially a cheating and bullying device.

So, accepting they are not going away, how can the positive aspects of smartphones be utilised?

Simple techniques such as using calendar facilities to upload the class timetables, reminders for homework, coursework etc. Alerts for taking in gym kit could be pushed out to pupils (and parents) devices. Obviously this does not completely remove ‘The dog ate my blackberry’ issue for teachers but it should help!

Coursework, homework and useful reference material & links can be also pushed up to phones to consolidate knowledge and aide pupils.

Even more useful would be to think how people use their phones and tablets, as well as communicating they are great research tools and could be used within the classroom situation helping finding different viewpoints on historical events for instance (and so helping improve the critical thinking of children as there are so many different and potentially inaccurate ‘facts’ out there –  “Always check your sources!” as my history teacher used to say).

Tablets and iPads in particular are very exciting tools for learning. They move away from the conformity of keyboards and mice and can make learning truly interactive. They are starting to be adopted in schools but we think there is a great potential to radically change the classroom and learning experience.

Obviously not all pupils can afford smartphones so to avoid technology related poverty trap, less well-off pupils should be provided with the same phones/tablets. Cash rich technology organisations should be approached to assist and a need mechanism could be introduced such as that for school dinners. Also parents’ wishes need to be taken into account as the age that a child is allowed to use a phone can vary widely.

 

3. Data Intelligence – Capturing Trends

As with any organisation there are large amounts of data contained in multiple stores. Also as with any other organisation that data is often not connected with other relevant sources so the information value of that data is lost.

One of our colleagues moved from financial services to education and was surprised by the lack of management information available to the teaching team. The data is there but it was not being translated into meaningful information.

There must be potential to link an individual teachers/class/subject results to identify trends. E.g. if the interim test results for the year 8 history class is going down, is it because the course work has been modified, there is a new teacher or the pupils socio-economic make up has changed? A good business intelligence application can trawl the data to identify the causes and so the appropriate remedial actions taken.

Similarly if maths A level results suddenly improve, what are the reasons for this and how can then they be applied elsewhere (internally or externally see Communications below)

If an individual pupils attainment levels started dropping off then additional attention could be provided to that student to help them get back on track and also identify and help hopefully resolve the underlying cause of the issue.

Other areas which may be more radical may involve gathering the information and identifying the better performing areas within or across schools including measurements such as a ‘cost per GCSE’ or ‘Entry/Exit attainment improvement’ of pupils.

 

4. Communications – sharing

Schools can sometimes be inward looking. Often teachers stay in one school for a considerable time. This is great for continuity and progression but may result in lost opportunities for innovation and changes that are happening in the extended educational community. Some schools encourage visits to other schools, conferences and courses can help here and there is big opportunity to take this further.

Businesses utilise management consultants to help improve organisations for efficiency or growth with the view to build revenue and profits.

Could information sharing, more inter-school communications, best practice and teaching artefact sharing help schools and teaching? Information is now available locally, nationally and internationally so can be shared and used amongst educational establishments.

 

5. Cloud Computing – Who needs infrastructure?

Most schools have a room/office with the computers/servers. As IT requirements grew in terms of finance, pupils’ records, assessments, operational and staff information the amount and complexity of equipment expanded often requiring dedicated resources to support and change. As we have been saying to our clients, with the advent of Cloud and Software as a Service the need for this is reducing to the point where the default should be for someone else to host, manage and support a schools technology infrastructure.

Obviously, as with any sensitive information, the question of student data privacy and security needs to be addressed. This should already be the case and the existing policies should be proved by any potential vendor and tested regularly by the educational authority.

 

6. Security – Paramount

The most important part of the use of technology is pupil safety and confidentiality. This is obvious and needs to be kept in the forefront of any discussion in regard to the introduction of a system whether it is IT or other mechanism.

 

Final thoughts

The opportunities for technology to help improve schools is both immense and exciting, this is not an area we have worked in but are really interested in stimulating a debate and seeing if we can assist in any way. Every time we help people outside our core business areas of finance IT we find not only do we enjoy it but we too learn a great deal from different working structures and cultures.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow” John Dewey – innovation & technology can help us help the next generation.

 

 

Are you ready to take the plunge into Twitter ?

Posted on : 07-05-2011 | By : jo.rose | In : General News

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For those of you lucky enough to have fought your way to the British coastline over the blistering Easter weekend, you may well have taken your first glorious dip of the year (unless you are blessed with the insanity gene that persuades you to jump in the sea on New Years Day). So how far did you get? Paddle to the ankles? Wade in to the hem of your shorts or dive right in forgetting to take off your sunglasses first?

Chances are that you at least dipped a toe, curious to know what it was like but still too cautious to commit to the unknown so publicly. And so it is with Twitter, a great big sea of information, entertainment, opinions and potential that everyone else seems so comfortable with but that you are steering well clear of until you know exactly what you are in for, and what is in it for you.

I would wager that if we could all guarantee to emerge from the sea with the elegance of a Bond star, dignity intact, then many more of us would have taken the plunge, but the risk of scrambling from the water wobbling, wheezing and freezing in front of such a big audience was enough to keep us on dry land. It is the openness and accessibility of Twitter that makes it so magnificent and so terrifying at the same time. It feels like there is no-where to practice, no-where to paddle, and unless you are bold enough to really join in you can be left literally floating in the Twitterverse, unsure of how you got there and why no-one is listening to you.

So allow me, if you will to be your Twitter water wings. The benefits both personally and for your business are well worth investing a little time before you start and the best way to recognise how Twitter can benefit you professionally is to begin to use it personally.

Paddle:
Set up an account using your own name if possible or a username that is short and easy to remember. It is important to upload a photo and complete your bio to say something interesting about yourself. Bios are searchable and are the first thing anyone looks at so remember to include your website, blog or LinkedIn profile.

Don’t lock your profile as social networks only work if you are, well, social. Your Twitter experience will be extremely limited if only a selected few can find you.

Find and follow interesting people and your timeline will be full of interesting content. Watch how people use Twitter to see what works and what doesn’t.

Follow at least 100 people to guarantee interesting and regular material in your timeline. Follow only celebrities and you’ll have PR puff, but combining a little showbiz gossip with headline news, thought leaders, business columnists, friends and people who inspire you will create your own personal daily newspaper for which you are the editor.

Don’t feel as though you have to follow everyone who follows you unless you feel they are going to enrich your timeline. Many people are simply trying to raise their own ‘follower’ numbers. It is a cliché but think quality, not quantity.

Float:
Hang around for a while before starting to tweet. You can benefit greatly from Twitter as a ‘lurker’ without posting a single tweet or having a single follower.

It helps to listen first and then join the conversation. Put in selected search terms so you can listen to what people are saying about topics you are interested in.

Edit who you are following according to who you are enjoying and who you find irritating or irrelevant. You are perfectly entitled to ‘unfollow’ someone just as are they entitled to ‘unfollow’ you.

Dive in:
Think before you tweet. Assume everything is public and permanent so always be polite, friendly and professional. Don’t say anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t say in public or wouldn’t want quoted by the press.

Be open, honest and authentic by sharing interesting content and tweeting regularly. Be yourself and remember, don’t just brag or broadcast, it is a conversation.

Keep your tweets short so that others can retweet them and add their own comment. Be careful not to use too many abbreviations however as you don’t want to sound like an illiterate teenager.

When retweeting always give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the original creator or the source it came from.

Stay within the buoys:
Familiarise yourself with your company’s social media guidelines so that you know your limits. Don’t bring your business into disrepute nor give away confidential information and criticise your boss or colleagues.

Inevitably, such a public forum can inspire debate and occasional disagreements. Stay respectful, maintain a dignified dialogue and take any disagreements offline

Don’t tweet too much and never tweet when angry or drunk.

Enjoy yourself:
Share the fun stuff and reply to people you find amusing or interesting.

Search for hashtags (eg. #royalwedding) to find witty commentary and opinion. It is always good to start the day with a giggle on your commute.

Applaud and recognise achievement in others. Everyone likes to be retweeted and feel that their content or comment is valuable.

Employ common sense and only a pinch of healthy cynicism and Twitter will quickly become as natural to you as checking emails. So what is stopping you? Come on in, the waters lovely!

Contributer: Jenni Wardle – Jenni@ultrasocial.co.uk

No time for being Anti Social

Posted on : 02-04-2011 | By : jo.rose | In : General News

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In everyday life, admitting to being anti social can be a wonderful thing. It means you are never expected to take part in a charity fun run, it can excuse you from the post work pub quiz every Tuesday and can even get you out of the odd Christmas outing. At worst you will be labelled a miserable bore but of course you can live with that if it guarantees a night in with a box set and blissful solitude. In business however, being anti social has much greater consequences.

You will have spotted that the behaviour of companies is under the spotlight like never before. Transparency and authenticity are the buzz words of 2011 and despite feeling that social media does not fit the ‘personality’ of your company, I’m afraid that you are still expected to get involved and open up. This can be a tricky transition for any company, but is especially uncomfortable for those who are steeped in the traditions of the City. There is a reason that you have chosen an office on Bishopsgate as opposed to Soho, and why your receptionist greets visitors with integrity and professionalism as opposed to an overly familiar high five. You have never considered putting a pool table in the canteen or hosting online poker tournaments with your clients because you are not a marketing agency or a cheeky young tech start up.  Finance is a serious business and the idea of using social networks to communicate your wisdom and achievements seems, at best, inappropriate and at worst a waste of valuable time.

But companies are increasingly judged on their ability to embrace and respond to comment and criticism and it is hard to control public and shareholder perception from behind an oak paneled door. A carefully worded press release and glossy annual report are no longer sufficient to communicate your corporate message and although you might find the idea of social media a little vulgar, you may be surprised at its potential, and what a serious business it can be.

Imagine some crazed, embittered employee bursting in on a crucial meeting with potential investors and ranting on about conspiracy theories. You could control that scenario because you would be there, explaining away the employee’s behaviour with claims of insanity and alcohol abuse. But if that employee took to Twitter to share his opinions, who would be there to act in your defence and escort him quietly away? And don’t be comforted in the knowledge that your investors are not the type to spend hours online, because even more terrifying is that journalists are. If you have been blissfully ignoring a conversation taking place under your Twitter nose then you’ll soon spot it when it appears in the business headlines.

A brilliant example of this happened as far back as 2004 when an enthusiastic blogger reported how he had managed to pick a ‘Kryptonite’ bicycle lock with a Bic pen. This was ignored by Kryptonite but picked up by the New York Times, resulting in $15m worth of product recalls and immeasurable damage to reputation.

More recently of course we must not forget BP who spent a reported £93m on advertising to counteract the colossal impact of the Mexican oil spill whilst a fake Twitter account pretending to represent the company was quietly amassing followers and no less than 350 Facebook groups sprung up to boycott the brand, turning their online PR into a laughing stock.

These examples of social media ‘fails’ are all over the internet and companies are finally wising up to the relevance of joining online communities but many are still dipping their toe in and hoping that to be seen to be making an effort is enough (a bit like attending a networking event and slinking off after the first glass of champagne).

Information is knowledge and our unprecedented access to information presents as many opportunities for business as it does threats. For example, market research must no longer be a lengthy and expensive undertaking as you can now get a snapshot of opinion in seconds using online networks and it is how you respond to that intelligence that will define you as successfully social.  

In 2011 the fundamental shift in how we communicate is well underway and thankfully the tools for business to not only keep up but also lead this social revolution are readily available. If you normally host a drinks reception for your most treasured shareholders, carefully compiling a guest list to ensure no troublemakers are invited, you must now accept that you do not control who attends your metaphorical online soiree and even the most nuisance blogger can gatecrash and be seated in between your well behaved guests. Or worse, the nuisance blogger can throw the party and not invite you. It is time to stop being anti social. Make sure you host the party and control the conversation about your business. Become a veritable party animal and represent yourself at every social gathering thrown by your industry on the web because this is where the people with the most influence over your business could be spending time and is the only place you can avoid a social faux pas and becoming yet another ‘fail’ statistic.

Oh, and don’t forget you can attend these metaphorical parties from the comfort of your desk or even better your own home, where you choose the wine and there is no chance of missing the last train. It is social for even the most anti social. Perfect.

Contributer: Paul Newman – Director – Ultraknowledge ( www.ultraknowledge.com ). 

For a demo of our content web technology contact paul@ultraknowledge.com  or for social strategy and training contact Jenni@ultrasocial.co.uk.