Today’s Facebook’s IPO although a more consumer focused interest story then what most of our customers are interested in, brought a huge amount of tweets on the subject as expected. (I would even venture to say that it was more then a ‘consumer interest story’ but rather a ‘human interest story’). None the less, being that FirstRain is a Silicon Valley based company, the buzz is also being felt strongly outside the digital world for those of us that live here and have friends and acquaintances that are being directly impacted by facebook’s IPO. Exciting times.
Yesterday, prior to Facebook’s IPO we ran some stats using our FirstTweets™ technology and then redid the same exercise at the close of the market today. FirstTweets™ uses our patented FirstRain technology to uncover and deliver only high-quality, business-relevant tweets to sales and marketing professionals across the enterprise. Our analysis shows that less than 0.1% of daily tweets contain quality, business-related content, yet this still represents more than 200,000 tweets per day of business-focused intelligence.
The picture painted by the stats that we captured, aren’t surprising but are interesting and illustrative on why our customers are seeing value in our FirstTweets- as YY Lee our COO tweeted this morning allowing them to “cut through the frenzied roar to net out the actual business discussion…”.
On the day before Facebook’s IPO:
At the close of Market on the day of Facebooks IPO:
One challenge of being an information solution that’s been designed from the ground-up to be easily used by business professionals who are not professional researchers, is the mistaken assumption that corporate libraries wouldn’t be interested in FirstRain.
So it’s always gratifying, then, when yet another customer comes along that helps us dispel this myth. We’re very happy to announce today that leading international commercial law firm, Bird & Bird, has selected FirstRain. And once again, it’s Bird & Bird’s Library and Information Services team that selected FirstRain as the solution to provide business monitoring to their organization, and assist with the dissemination of that intelligence across the firm.
Bird & Bird has integrated FirstRain into both their ad hoc research process, and is used to provide ongoing updates to their firm’s fee earners. FirstRain was selected, as Cecilia Cheung, Head of Library at Bird & Bird noted “In order to to give Bird & Bird Fee Earners competitive advantage …”.
We know that many info pros love FirstRain because of our unique and patented Business Web Graph(TM). Better than a conventional, linear taxonomy, FirstRain’s Business Web Graph takes traditionally hierarchical concepts such as sectors, industries and companies, and then creates live interconnections between them using our unique Business Lines and Dynamic Topics. The result is a dynamic graph of linked Business Web concepts we apply to all of our content–and continuously update based on the living Web. It’s the industry’s best collection of business topics, and is one of the many reasons FirstRain is the market leader in filtering out the noise of the consumer Web and delivering your users only highly relevant Business Web content.
We’re very excited to be working with the Library at Bird & Bird, and can’t wait for the next myth-busting customer to come along!
By the way, for those of you who will be at next week’s Special Libraries Association 2011 Conference in Philadelphia, stop by and see us at Booth 540! We’ll be giving away an iPad every day, hosting Beer & Cheesesteak cocktail parties, and our own Nima Niakan will be leading a session on developing effective Sales & Marketing triggers. Hope to see you there!
I’ve mentioned before what an exciting time it is to be a part of FirstRain. We’re building momentum every day as our fantastic sales team helps more and more customers in Marketing and Sales roles use FirstRain to monitor and act on the critical events that impact their business, industry and competitors.
But for an increasing number of professionals, the real need is efficiently getting high-quality, Business Web content out to the rest of their organization. This was the challenge we helped solve with Mark Heindselman, Manager Knowledge Network & Info Services at Emerson Process Management. As Mark described,
“We were looking for a better solution to find business relevant content from the web and found FirstRain to be superior to others in this space at delivering highly relevant content. FirstRain allows us to automate the collection of business content and distribute it across the company. We can now put in our users email box or RSS reader the web based news they are looking for and no more. The FirstRain Support team has been very responsive to our requests in setting up and rolling out our service.”
It’s always gratifying when you hear how you’re helping real-world users solve real-world business challenges, and we look forward to solving those challenges for many more!
Do you remember those futuristic articles or stories we’d read in the 80s that talked about how with technology we would work less and have more time to recreate? Technology was going to free us from the shackles of our desk. Well, that is possible, if you actually wanted to change it.
The technology of the future has freed us from our desks (mobile phones, laptops, etc.), and this article discusses how the right mix of technology can easily enhance our productivity. Additionally, the Internet has dramatically changed the way that we gather information for business decisions.
With improvements in analytical algorithms in business monitors like FirstRain, Capital IQ, FactSet, and many others, more valuable data can be targeted. The FirstRain platform can filter out the noise, and simultaneously generate highly targeted business intelligence with its patented semantic technology and analytics. Through such advancements, analysts can not only receive information that is personalized and adaptive to their markets, but discover valuable patterns and data trends as well.
In speaking with one of our customers—a sales rep named Samantha Barrett, I was able to understand how she used FirstRain to solve four problems:
This newfound method of information gathering is contradictory to what used to be considered the “traditional” way of researching. Think of it as a new perspective for a new century—it was acceptable, and necessary to “do-it-yourself” given tech limitations in the 90s and first half of the last decade. Searching for your own information was the way to go—who else could you trust to find the most relevant results and cover all the bases? Well, now we can automate it, and we have to start building that trust.
The change in information management models to platforms like FirstRain comes as no surprise. Using solutions like FirstRain allows for an easy, efficient way to manage information. Not having to worry about how credible the sources are, or how much time you spend gathering information allocates time for more important tasks.
Being able to understand information in different ways, and having access to meaningful patterns and data trends can directly or indirectly make all the difference in an entire business. Those who embrace the technology will be more effective, and have access to a plethora of information that they otherwise wouldn’t.
The stories of the future are now the stories of the present—the revolution is here and it would be smart to adopt the 21st century trend of “trusting tech,” as the end result will benefit decision makers. No longer can you do-it-yourself, the 80s were right, and once again technology dramatically eases our lives.
It’s interesting to look at the smartphone choice our users have made across different markets. We conducted a mobile survey a couple of weeks ago and found that a BlackBerry is still a necessity in the corporate environment, but often not enough. However, our survey results are contrary to the latest consumer survey that shows Android surpassing Apple iOS and the Blackberry platform in market share.
While we are developing the FirstRain mobile application, our survey showed that among the users surveyed they have an average of 1.2 devices each – and when we broke it down by device to find that 14% of the BlackBerry users were also using an additional device. We suspect this is because while BlackBerry may be mandated by many firms it simply does not have the app support and so is not as useful and fun outside of the standard corporate apps like email and calendars.
What does this mean for RIM? Research in Motion first introduced the BlackBerry in 1999, and 12 years ago the BlackBerry was able to hold its own— a strong operating system, stable, reliable—all the works. With the highly anticipated BlackBerry 6 OS debuting with the Torch, BlackBerry users can keep up with the competition—right?
The BlackBerry Torch does have all new features—upgraded camera, proper touch screen, security features, built-in GPS, universal search, and perhaps most favored by IT — the administrative control available. But is this enough to keep up with personal and work demands?
We found that for our users, the BlackBerry as a smart device is not cutting it. The app development has been slow for the BlackBerry OS, and the functionality of the apps are not up to par. If 14% (and growing) of our users need a second device, usually an iPad or iPhone, to maintain the quick pace of the workday, the Torch will not salvage RIM as a business-friendly product.
If 2011 is the year of the enterprise app, then this may be the beginning of the end for RIM. The BlackBerry has not made substantial enough strides to maintain functionality with all of the “super apps.” Salesforce already has 20,000 companies that have embraced their new Chatter mobile app, and it is no surprise that more than 50% of the workforce is using mobile devices as their new desktop. With more companies shifting towards app development, including FirstRain, maybe there is a reason that so many of our users who utilized BlackBerry’s also needed a supplemental device.
It is also quite hard for the BlackBerry OS to compete against the prominently featured “fun” iOS system. The iPhone is becoming so deeply embedded in our business culture, that it is seen as a necessity and the new iPad 2 is going to continue Apple’s overwhelmingly dominant control of the tablet market. Businesses like Juniper and Good.com are thriving with more consumers bringing their mobile devices into work (that now need additional security). In October, Good Technology released their first quarterly data report— illustrating how the rapid adoption of iOS is revolutionizing enterprise mobility and how they are benefiting from the move away from the Blackberry.
Whether this means more good news for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, or a meek future for RIM, one can’t be sure—but it is clear modern users will now demand competitive apps on their primary handheld device.
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!
Many of our customers are hedge funds looking to both save time and get an intelligence advantage from the web. They are notoriously secret so we can rarely use their names – but even so they will talk with us and share how they use FirstRain.
Liz (her name has been changed at her request) is an investor relations associate at a hedge fund in Greenwich CT. This is a fund that has a long term horizon and applies private equity style investing to the public markets. She shared how she uses FirstRain with us. Her goal is to quickly and easily find intelligence which may be impacting her firm’s portfolio.
“One of my responsibilities it to generate a daily watch report for our research analysts. Each analyst has Bloomberg on their desk, and access to sell-side research, so they can easily screen for major news stories. My challenge is then to help them find the smaller local news stories that might be impacting our portfolio.
We have found that local news and blogs are helpful for our continuous understanding of industries like restaurants and retail – for example seeing a report like Burger King to close three local Plano TX franchises which might change an analyst’s model or outlook.”
In the past Liz would use Lexis Nexis but, while powerful for specific one-off research projects, it does not have the local news and blog coverage that she needs, and does not have an easy workflow to generate news reports for a set of companies every day.
Liz wanted to find a simple, efficient solution to tracking daily local news and blogs about her firm’s critical investments.
Her solution today is to use FirstRain to monitor about 50 names, looking for local stories to build her daily Watch Report from. She simply uploads the names from excel and turns on a daily email monitor setup for her filters.
She says “We found it very easy to import the tickers and generate a daily email which we use to create our Watch Report from. And FirstRain is a fraction of the cost of traditional content providers like Lexis Nexis, or financial platforms like Bloomberg. In the end it was a simple decision for us, based on ease of use and price”.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of our customers a few weeks ago at a Selling Power conference – a sales rep called Samantha Barrett – and after she told me how much she loved FirstRain I asked her to describe for me how she uses it every day. It’s always helpful for me to listen to a user’s daily experience and make sure I understand what they like and how we can improve.
XL Group is in Philadephia and they provide sales and marketing solutions to the life sciences and automotive industries. Their products are software packages like SFA, data management, BI etc.
Sam uses FirstRain to both save her time, and help her develop her top prospects. As she says “I use FirstRain to solve four problems: how I stay current on my top 10 prospect’s businesses, how I understand key industry changes, how I find expansion opportunities in my existing customers and how I know what’s new for my competitors”.
Sam goes into FirstRain every morning to analyze what is new with her top prospects, and she also uses email monitors to track her major existing customers, her market and her competition. The unique intelligence she needs, when she needs it, in her daily workflow.
You can read a short case study of how she uses FirstRain here (download the XL Group case study).
As she says “With FirstRain I now save at least an hour a day monitoring the developments which are impacting my prospects, existing customers and competition.”
As part of our announcement today of our new snapshot on Salesforce CRM we have also announced a webinar to show our sales users the power of being able to do account analysis in line when preparing for meetings or planning out campaigns. Join us!
Conduct Major Account Analysis to Increase Revenue Today
Date: July 27, 2010
Time: 1:00 PM PDT or 4:00 PM EDT
Registration Link: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/148402243
Webcast link: http://www.firstrain.com/Events.php
We’re holding two educational webinars in June on how to use strategic intelligence to accelerate revenue – both for marketing or for sales – and Pete Krainik posed a few questions to me for the CMO Club website last week. This is just a preview – if you’d like to join us for a live discussion on June 15th you can register here. And if you are a CMO you can join an interesting community of your peers at http://www.thecmoclub.com/.
Pete: What’s really available on the web today to help CMOs understand their market? Isn’t it just a lot of noise?
Penny: That’s a great question because I think many people do wonder if the web can help with strategic issues. It’s well understood how to look for PR coverage in the web, but the reality today is that the web is also the most current, up-to-date view of companies and markets – it’s more current than databases of company and market data because they just cannot stay up to date – and if you can detect the patterns in it the web holds a rich wealth of critical information about how companies and markets are changing.
Pete: What types of questions can be answered real time?
Penny: Some examples of the questions that can be answered real time from the web are:
– What are the new developments around a hot industry topic – and what companies are being impacted?
– What are the visible management changes at a company, whether or not they are announced?
– Who’s competing with who? (real time, not out of date relationships)
– What’s impacting my customers customer’s business – and how can it impact my strategy, my sales team and my revenue?
– What’s the context of a competitors announcement – and how is the broad market of influencers and bloggers reacting to it?
This type of strategic intelligence is absolutely present in the web, but the high levels of junk and duplication make it almost impossible to find quickly without a research engine designed to find and report on company, industry, hot topic and management information. But as a CMO you know you want your strategic marketing team and sales teams to have it, and not have to spend time looking for it.
Pete: What are the most frequently requested reports today?
Penny: The most common report is configured by CMOs for their specific intelligence space. You select the companies, related competitors, related industry topics and business topics that impact your market and a rich report on the latest developments is emailed to you, or you can subscribe in an RSS reader and see it on your phone, or push it into your internal company portals. In addition, FirstRain staff will always help CMOs do this if you need help and can add hot industry topics into the application if you are looking for a new narrow area of coverage.
The second type of report is a Company Brief. This is an auto-generated contextual report about a company – and includes the ecosystem (business lines, competitors, hot topics) around the company, recent management changes, lists of detected management and their bios, recent events for the company – and also for it’s competitors and it’s industry. Because this brief extracts material changes and events, rather than a stream of unfiltered news, it is a very efficient way to quickly see the market events that are impacting a company and it’s business. We see both marketing and sales people use it to prepare themselves, or their management, for customer meetings and calls.
Pete: So why can’t I do this with consumer tools like Google and Bing?
Penny: Google and Bing are truly excellent at extracting structure and getting you to the right answer for typical consumer questions – like shopping, travel, movie times or local store information. Even Yahoo Finance is good at getting you recent news from the most popular news sites. But what none of these tools do is provide you with similarly well structured answers for companies, industries and hot topics. These are concepts that are hard to capture in keywords, and where the most interesting information may not even mention a company name, but the right tool can detect that it a web article or blog post is about a topic impacting a company.
In addition to finding and filtering web information to generate useful intelligence, the other critical functionality for marketing is reporting suitable for strategic readers (like marketing, sales and executives). Time is money and the right reports, producing just the critical intelligence that is impacting a product line or market take users directly to critical strategic intelligence in seconds.
Pete: What is one piece of advice you would give CMOs in the club as they look to the web to help them understand their markets?
Penny: Focus on the efficiency of how your marketing and sales team use the web. The costs of the time it takes to use consumer tools are enormous but they are hidden and with the tools like Google (which is where everyone goes first today) the web is a huge time sink and distraction to your team. You need the strategic intelligence the web provides, but you need to get at it efficiently so I recommend you focus on the timeliness, quality and relevancy of the intelligence you pull out – and how long it takes your employees to retrieve it into their decision process.
Click here to register for upcoming CMO CLUB Roundtable Webinar with Penny on “How Do Top Marketing Teams Use Up-to-the-Minute Intelligence to Accelerate Revenue”: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/827670465
Click here for more information on FirstRain: http://www.firstrain.com/Marketing.php