Interesting report from Good Technology was written up by Securities Technology Monitor today on the different rates of adoption of the iPad between different segments – and not surprisingly the financial services industry is way ahead.
Typically we have seen financial services be more conservative among our customers – especially when it comes to security and technology on the desktop (IE6 anyone? Ugh) but when it comes to facing the client the financial services industry has always been nimble at creating the most attractive image. Having your financial advisor, or your sales person, show up with an iPad has sex appeal and raises the client’s confidence that the advisor is on the leading edge. And the visual appeal of the iPad’s crisp, clear screen would make almost any performance charts just look better.
Good’s fourth quarter report shows that in the battle between iOS and Android tablets the iPad is taking share – activations climbed from 60% to 68%. Blackberry is not included in the study since Good’s value to their customer is adding Blackberry-like security to non-Blackberry devices. It will be interesting to see what changes, if anything, once RIMM has a competitive tablet.
There is a helpful article for sales people in Selling Power this morning.
Titled “Are you selling problems or solutions” the article cites four things you can do with the news to improve the conversation with you customer.
Consider the sale as just the beginning – as a friend of mine used to say – there is no post sales – there is sales and more sales!
Look on the bright (aka solution) side of the news. – the Selling Power editors say FirstRain is an ideal option.
Turn features into benefits – yep – don’t speed and feed.
Smile more – an easy one on a sunny day.
Great article in Information Week today. Seth believes “Data integration will be a top story in information technology in 2011″ – and his view is based on the emergence of the “beyond-ETL” approach. (note ETL is broadly used in data analysis applications and means – extraction, transform, load).
FirstRain is one of the paths Seth discusses – in particular our approach to time-sequencing the web. He quotes Marty – “The application of semantic analysis that is ‘business structure aware’ is crucial to be able to identify and deliver relevant business information that is scattered throughout [disparate] sources,” says the company’s technology vice president, Marty Betz. Also crucial is the ability to synthesize time sequence from pages found on the open Web.
- and I love that even in a simple examples you can quickly see the time issues that show up with Google’s popularity based approach: “Time sequence is important! Indeed, the number-three result returned by a Google search for “us senator pennsylvania” was now-former Senator Arlen Specter’s now-disappeared Senate Web page.”
In contrast – we analyze the flow of content through our pipeline and so our system can dynamically model and adjust its understanding of the market ecosystems around companies and industries – to quote Dr Betz again.
Betz describes the use of trending and anomaly detection, applied to unstructured narrative content from a variety of sources, to enable a different class of questions to be systematically asked, analyzed and answered via answers that require “connecting the dots.”
So in FirstRain we have broad-but-selective content acquisition and integration, with the application of goal-relevant organizing principles, to respond to a high-value business need: timely access to corporate developments.
We definitely agree with Seth that data integration area is an area of significant investment across multiple companies over the next year – to advance ease-of-use and increase the level embedded use and end-user specific integration capabilities.
Guest author: Pratyush Nath – a software engineer in our Gurgaon office
FirstRain India celebrated the Annual Company Event on the 8th of January 2011 to culminate the a series of events we have held over the past six months.
It all started with dividing the India rainmakers into six teams bringing together folks from diverse functions. It has been a great run with the teams demonstrating competitive spirit as well as sportsman spirit all through the diverse events like dance, debate, table tennis, face painting competition etc. The final event was the offsite cricket match on 8th at Surjivan Resorts. It was refreshing to see people come out in large numbers on a Saturday, braving the chill to support their team and of course FirstRain.
Kicking off the event
The cricket match was followed by some great stand up acts as people enjoyed their drinks and snacks in an atmosphere of camaraderie, taking digs at each other and engaging in casual banter.
The winning team
A stand-up comedy act
Overall it was a fun event and a firm step forward towards the punch line we adopted since the build up to this event: ‘It is an exciting time to be a part of FirstRain’.
The FirstRain Gurgaon team
Here’s a great example of FirstRain helping a group of users in private equity. I was able to visit Stuart Jackson at Actis before Christmas last year – on a very snowy, cold day in London. One of those days when I am reminded why I left the UK to work in California.
We met at Stuart’s offices on the South Bank to discuss how his team has been successful with FirstRain over the last year.
Actis is a London based private equity investor that invests exclusively in emerging markets like Asia, Africa and Latin America; it has US$4.7bn funds under management and over 100 investment professionals on the ground in nine offices worldwide.
The Actis investment teams already have very strong local and sector knowledge but, because of their broad emerging markets focus, the teams must also stay constantly abreast of global and regional trends and developments and good information can be hard to find in their regions.
Stuart is Global Knowledge and Information Manager at Actis. He set about solving this problem by partnering with us – his goal is to use our automated market monitoring to provide a richer intelligence service to his internal users around the world.
To do this, Stuart worked with us to set up personalized monitors for his investment professionals in regions such as Africa, Latin America and South Asia where his team has found reliable data sources can be difficult to uncover. He told me “we find the company intelligence we receive from FirstRain highly valuable to our day to day work. The timely delivery of interesting, in-depth articles enables us to constantly refine our investment research”.
Each Actis user has a personally configured monitor set up to provide daily alerts on the developments impacting companies of interest within the region. Delivered by email to each user’s PC or Blackberry, the FirstRain monitors provides relevant research and reading materials every day, saving time and helping to build up a detailed understanding of each region of interest.
I’m also delighted that Stuart’s experience with FirstRain is of a very high quality service provider. “I am pleased with the level of service I receive from FirstRain”, he told me, “and the client service ethos which is demonstrated by my FirstRain support team”.
That’s great for my team to hear – nice jobs guys!
I’m reminded of something I learned a long time ago about relationship dynamics in the workplace – from the Zen master of leadership Renn Zaphiropoulos.
Teamwork is critical to moving fast. I wrote in the past how trust is simply more efficient. It allows people to share risky ideas, make decisions quickly-learn-change, and to be safe so they do so again and again. I have no respect for attacking behavior in the workplace – it’s immature and destructive and hurts the team. I’m frustrated sometimes in silicon valley with the cult of the technical jerk savant (ref The Social Network film – note the object of the cult is almost always a white male – and I guarantee they are not always white). The vast majority of hard working technical professionals are not like that and quality companies follow the No Asshole Rule (ref the book on Amazon) and don’t tolerate the behavior.
Attacking behavior often arises between people who have not developed a conscious relationship of mutual respect and so the relationship deteriorates to one of mutual contempt. This is because the Respect-Contempt imbalance is inherently unstable. It’s too caustic for the one held in contempt to sustain so survival skills require the relationship degrade into mutual contempt.
The leader’s role is to help each person see and learn to respect the strengths of the other, even if their role and contribution is very different. Everyone has a role to play and value to contribute or they would not be here. (It’s also important for us to try to weed out the bad behaviors during the interview process; looking for arrogance and disrespect for others being subtly communicated as the candidate reviews their history.)
The hardest role to be playing is the person who is being attacked by an intellectual bully in the team. I have seen this at the peer level, rarely see it down the power hierarchy these days in technology (good people simply leave) and see it surprisingly often up the power hierarchy. It’s easier to take cheap shots up at your management because they just have to take it – they should not attack back (although that’s a matter of style choice – I know one former CEO who would intentionally verbally obliterate disrespectful employees – but it’s not my style choice).
In all cases my advice to the person being attacked is take the high ground. It’s unlikely to be personal and it’s more likely to be about the other person and some threat they are feeling in the moment than it is about you. I was in a situation recently where this happened to me where I am a board member (it was a very difficult conversation with a member of management) and I worked hard to stay calm, listen, let the energy run it’s course, and then return to the problem at hand.
Respect builds over time, as does trust. And if you find yourself in a contempt-respect or contempt-contempt relationship ask for help. Your manager’s job is to help you with it.
It’s exciting to see the economy come back and companies start to add new jobs – even the usually glum media like CNN is starting to report a coming hiring boom here.
Here at FirstRain we have a number of open positions in very interesting areas. Our openings are both in San Mateo, California and in Gurgaon, India. We are looking for smart, hungry talent. People who want to be a part of a dynamic, fun company doing edgy, ground-breaking work. If you are a potential Rainmaker send your resume in to firstname.lastname@example.org
Open positions January 2011:
You will probably have noticed that your FirstRain email monitors changed over the Holidays.
This new style of monitor is designed to help you
i) see the highest impact articles first,
ii) quickly read the ranked highlights for each company or market topic you are monitoring,
iii) highlight key analytics such as management turnover, analyst comments or corporate governance issues and
iv) read them more easily on your mobile devices.
A new year opens up new opportunities and ideas for us all. May I wish you and your family a happy and prosperous New Year. Thank you for being our user.