by Daniel Wakefield, IMGROUP
The last five years have seen the emergence of 3 of the world’s biggest internet brands - LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter - and observe them revolutionise the way people communicate, interact and share information instantly across the globe. The impact on the way we view the world and the way we consume and use data has been immense. Currently over 150 million people use Twitter, sending 340 million tweets every day. Yet finding the users and conversations you are interested in is easy. The site handles over 1.6 million search queries daily yet it takes seconds not only to find the information that you need, but also to uncover whole conversations that have been had around that information and to follow it in real time as it develops. Millions of us followed Sohaib Athar as he described the final moments of Osama Bin Laden’s life and it seems almost every day a career is made or broken on the back of a single 140 character comment.
As social networks have become more sophisticated they have also become easier to integrate. One click and information can be shared over multiple networks in multiple forms. It's also very simple for us to see how one piece of information relates to others – through hash tags, conversation histories and date stamps.
The core foundations of social media, self-empowering the individual, open data policies, social voting and instant messaging have allowed us the power to browse information at a high-level in real-time with an added ability to deep dive into a topic and enrich the content with our own insights for all to see.
The employees of tomorrow, entirely at ease with engaging with information and data in this context, will be well equipped and expect to see these technologies at the heart of the corporate environment.
In the context of capital markets, embedding the social media concepts within risk and trading applications allow for every consumer of data to collectively contribute to the intelligence around it. The quicker a firm is able to share and build upon this intelligence, the more competitive and agile it will be in the face of smaller, leaner firms that are frequently squaring up to larger competition.
When you look at the sheer volume of data that we are creating, getting the insight that you need from it can look like an impossible task. For businesses in any sphere the concept of ‘big data’ is viewed as more of a curse than a blessing. Within banking and capital markets, you have an additional layer of compliance and regulatory concerns around the data being received and produced. What we have to remember, however, is that although handling this level of information in a way that actually gets real value out of it may seem difficult from a business perspective, it is something that, as individuals, most of do every day as we navigate our way through the myriad of social applications, emails and text messages. The solution therefore is to bring the way we deal with information socially, into the work place.
Let’s look at how we use Twitter for example. Using that model we could see the introduction of a self-service capability that empowers individuals to “follow” trading desks, individuals or key market updates removing the dependency on an email cc list to be accurate and more importantly viewed within the appropriate time frame.
With new “tweet-like” capabilities, a trader with issues with their intra-day book will be able to generate a message and status associated to a data-scope (such as an individual trade) that can then follow the same aggregation rules as the data that is being discussed. Visualisation of this data can then provide contextual information on data quality alongside result data, leading to better informed trading, control and senior management and clarity on how actionable the information they are relying upon really is.
For any organisation, large or small, information is arguably its most important asset. Information is more than just data however. For it to be really valuable it has to be timely, accurate and contextualised. As the type of data evolves and the channels it is delivered through change, the need for aggregation becomes ever more pressing. By adapting techniques from social media platforms, banks and trading houses can not only help reduce risks they can also help their traders to be more effective. After all this isn’t just a question of reducing risk it can also mean significant competitive advantage.