Archive for October, 2011
October 27th, 2011
Interesting research from the University of Massachusetts shows that for the first time in 4 years there has been virtually no change in Fortune 500 companies adopting Facebook, Twitter or Blogging, which is a surprise to say the least.
According to the research by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, Senior Fellow, Society for New Communications Research & Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, nearly one third of Fortune 500 are without either a Twitter or Facebook account. While the percent of companies blogging remains at 23%, that number now represents 114 companies with blogs instead of the 116 recorded last year.
Dr Barnes, suggests: “These results may signal a levelling off and possibly retrenchment when it comes to the adoption of social media among the 2011 Fortune 500. There is also evidence of change in the adoption of these tools by industry and a clear sign from some companies that these are not part of their communications strategy. Given that the Fortune 500 are the titans of American business, we may be seeing the slowdown in business adoption of social media. At the very least, this group appears to have slowed or stopped its adoption of the three most prominent tools – Blogging, Facebook and Twitter.”
The full research can be downloaded here and key findings include:
â€¢ 23% (114) of the primary Fortune 500 corporations have an external corporate blog. This represents a levelling off since 2010 and only a 1% increase over the 2009 study.
â€¢ Fortune 500 companies are blogging at a lower rate than other business groups, specifically the Inc. 500. In 2010, 50% of the Inc. 500 had corporate blogs and in 2009 45% had externally-facing corporate blogs.
â€¢ 62% (308) of Fortune 500 primary companies have corporate Twitter accounts. This is an increase of only 2% over the 2010 Fortune 500.
â€¢ 58% (289) of the 2010 Fortune 500 have a Facebook presence. There is an increase of only 2% over the 2010 Fortune 500.
â€¢ Specialty Retail stores are most likely to have a blog. These include Home Depot, Best Buy, Toys-R-Us and BJ’s Wholesale.
â€¢ 31% of the 2011 Fortune 500 do not have a Twitter account or a Facebook presence.
The figures are interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, does this really show a slow down in social adoption among the biggest organisations in the U.S? Or simply a reflection of the vertical structure of the Fortune 500, which at this (still) relatively early stage of adoption means those outside of the key sectors (Retail, Auto, Finance, Travel for example) are unlikely to adopt as yet.
Could this slowdown be linked to a pull back on budgets as a direct result of the economic slow down, and a more sustained focus on traditional and boardroom-accepted communications / marketing focuses?
However, whatever potential excuses we put forward, it’s clear that there is still much to be done in terms of educating large corporates in social media adoption, and more specifically its potential benefit. We also need to put more focus on making social relevant to vertical organisations / sectors, by highlighting specific approaches such as Social CRM, and Social Business.
October 26th, 2011
Cyber-attacks on Japanâ€™s leading companies and its government must surely present a definitive case for a change in network security.
Iâ€™ve followed the story of network breach at Mitsubishi Heavy since the first reports in September. The breach was in August and it took some weeks before the company admitted that its network defences had failed.
The day after the first breach reports, the company advised that no data had been accessed or stolen. This week, reports suggest that sensitive weapons and nuclear data could have been seen, and appropriated. The attack involved about 80 servers and computers at 11 facilities related to nuclear power, missiles and submarines.
At the very least, the companyâ€™s confusion over whether the breach had leaked data is indicative of the need to reform the way we address security as a policy, rather than an inchoate organisational strategy.
One breach might be seen as an exception but in the past two days, more data breach reports at the highest level in Japan must surely question the fitness of current network security strategies and methodologies.
Would you agree with me that these and so many other successful cyber-attacks this year demonstrate two things? First, the current global network security practices are effectively a busted flush. The reliance on multiple layers of software defence simply does not work in the ferocious climate we now inhabit.
Second, the hacker culture has evolved. Sure, it still includes the individuals and groups who seek to gain respect, authority and notoriety. But the culture now embraces organised, well-funded, focused and very proficient criminal groups who siphon off many millions of global currencies to further fuel their medium-term goal of stealing not only money but also ideas.
It seems that corporates are happy to write off financial theft as a cost of business. Maybe they and every other organisation that is bound and embedded in the global network would be changing their minds if they saw how easily their commercial futures are being stolen.
Weâ€™re close to the network-security endgame here and we need to move very fast. The current system is broken, badly. We need to secure at every point, from the device, to data storage to management and control at the network layer.
Itâ€™s not too much to ask, surely?
October 26th, 2011
Mobile devices are more important to young Britons than television, according to a new report just published by the communications watchdog Ofcom. For the first time 12-15s say they would miss their mobile (28 per cent) and the internet (25 per cent) more than TV (18 per cent).
Among 5-7s, almost half (48 per cent) say that television is the medium they would miss the most, compared to 25 per cent naming playing computer/video games, and less than one in ten naming either the internet (7 per cent) or mobile phones (1 per cent). The research shows that 95 per cent of this age group watch TV almost every day, compared to 43 per cent using the internet, and 7 per cent using a mobile phone.
Additionally catchup services such as the BBC iPlayer and 4OD are in high demand.Â More than a quarter of children aged 5 to 15 have used them, and a third for those aged 12 to 15.
Here are some of the main nuggets from the report:
- Teenagers currently watch 17 hours 37 minutes per week. – A growing amount of this is the use of iPlayer and similar.
- 15 hours 37 minutes per week in 2007.
- 95% of 12- to 15-year-olds having internet access at home through a computer.
- 80% of children in lower socioeconomic groups have access to the internet at home, compared to 98% in the richest ones.
- Around half of all children aged up to 15 have their own mobile phone, and the proportion with a smartphone such as an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone is growing fast, having risen from 36% a year ago to 46% now.
- The use of mobile phones generally is also growing strongly among children aged 8 to 11, rising from 55% a year ago to 61% now.
- Games console popularity seems to have hit a plateau, at between 81% and 92% depending on age, though the figures are almost unchanged from a year ago.
- Radio listening is also in decline, with around half of those aged 12 to 15 not listening to any sort of radio, according to the survey results.
- The living room being the most common location for internet use, although a third of 12- to 15-year-olds have internet access in their bedrooms. The majority of those aged 5 to 11 use the internet with an adult in the room, but lone usage increases with age: half of those aged 12 to 15 used the internet alone. However, that figure has fallen since last year.
October 25th, 2011
The start of October saw YouTube offer movie rental in the UK. So it’s no surprise that the UK now also gets movie rental via the Android marketplace too.
You can now stream full length movies to your Android enabled device from Â£2.49. New movies are Â£3.49. But before you do, you will need to download this app first.
Once you pick a film you fancy, you’ll have about 30 days to begin watching the rental and then you’ll typically have 48 hours to finish it. Which is similar to the YouTube movie set up.
There is also an option to watch the movie through your TV via an HDMI cable or computer.
The only decision you will have to make is which platform you will stream the movie from, one doesn’t seem to be better than the otherÂ in terms of quality or offer different types of pricing. The choice is yours!
October 23rd, 2011
Reports this week of a new variant of Stuxnet, the military-grade malware that attacked Iranian nuclear power servers, exposes the fragility of global network security.
The malware variant, Duku, is an information-gathering threat that targets specific organisations, including industrial control system manufacturers.
It is a spy tool, rather than a systems wrecker and might be seen as the first in a wave of new Stuxnet-style viruses, More sophisticated versions of it that have a ferocious intent are almost certain to be launched in the next few months.
Duqu appears to search for precious IP data, such as design documents, which could help hackers mount an attack on an industrial control facility.
We should be chilled (in the old sense) by this malware discovery and can read it in the light of expert comments from James Stevenson, from Netwitness, last Thursday (October 20th) at the Trusted Computing Seminar in London.
James said that 63 per cent of confirmed network breaches are leveraging customised malware and that 87 per cent of records stolen in the past year had been through Highly Sophisticated Attacks.
He also advised that anti-virus software could, at best, pick up only a very small number of malwares because the hackers were way ahead in terms of producing variants that were invisible to the defence systems.
James advised that up to 2007, a quarter of malware was not customised and then organised crime recognised the opportunity. Now, 60% of malware is customised and will breach network defence systems.
Worse, a malware variant he identified and announced to the anti-virus community at the start of 2011 had still not been addressed seven months later by the majority of defence applications.
James advised that the strategic focus or vision on defence against malware should shift from a target of being completely safe to agile defence, accepting a degree of data breach while responding with all speed.
His thoughts echoed the sentiments of many at the seminar and he backed the need to move quickly towards adoption of Trusted Computing standards, which offer the most robust defence at the network layer because they begin with securing the device.
We have around half a billion devices (PCs, laptops, notebooks) that have the Trusted Platform Module embedded. Not many are currently activated, and indeed the EU has prevented them from being shipped as an activated component.
The seminar was organised by client Wave Systems, a founder and board member of the Trusted Computing Group. The full-house at the Royal Aeronautical Society included UK government, state advisors, corporates like PwC and Morgan Stanley, police and local government.
This wide range of knowledge seekers suggests that the Trusted Computing standards are finally being seen as the solution to current threats. The standards are not a silver bullet that will solve every network defence problem but they are miles ahead of current layered software â€œsolutionsâ€.
For more on Stuxnet, read this.
October 19th, 2011
Comscore has released an overview of internet usage in Europe and Turkey, ahead of its slot at Webrazzi in Turkey today, where comScore Managing Director Mike Read will be presenting on the future of online measurement in Turkey, as well as an overview of the internet, globally.
The headline grabber is that of Europe’s 372 million unique visitors, Turkey accounted for 23.1 million unique visitors during August 2011, and is apparently the third most engaged online audience in Europe. Turkey’s connected population spent 45.3 billion minutes on the internet.
As for specific sites in Turkey, unsurprisingly, Facebook was the most engaging site, with 13.1 billion minutes spent on the site, accounting for 28.8 percent of all time spent online during the month. International sites Facebook, Microsoft Sites (4 billion minutes) and Google Sites (3.9 billion minutes) took the top 3 spots with the remainder made up of local Turkish sites.
As for the rest of Europe, The UK showed the highest engagement with users spending an average of nearly 35 hours online, up 1.5 hours from the previous month. The Netherlands ranked second (32.8 hours per month), closely followed by Turkey, where the average internet user spent 32.7 hours online consuming 3,706 pages per month, the highest consumption amongst all countries reported.
In terms of specific destinations, Google’s various sites, including its search engine, Gmail and YouTube – attracted 372m visitors, beating the 256m posted by Microsoft’s online properties.
VKontakte, a Russian equivalent of Facebook, has a user base of 51m people, who were active on its site for an average of 430 minutes.
Overall, web users were exposed to 989m pages in August, with Facebook on 163m.
Data sourced from comScore
October 14th, 2011
Nick Roach and the team at Conversocial ran a packed Chinwag session in London last week: When Customer Service Goes Social.
The Conversocial/Chinwag Live event illuminated what is happening, and what will happen, to customer service through social networks – social CRM.
Gavin Sathianathan from Facebook talked about the significance of recent Facebook changes for business while Guy Stephens, Technology Consultant at Capgemini, highlighted the perspective the customer service angle.
Conversocialâ€™s Joshua March shared observations of the importance of customer care for a valuable social media presence, bringing a holistic approach to the issues facing social customer service.
The panel discussion and audience Q&A with Julia Munro, Community Manager at Marks and Spencer and Simon Collister, Consultancy Director at We Are Social, as well as the other speakers made for a challenging and productive session, with chair Luke Brynley-Jones, of Our Social Times keeping everything in check.
The event certainly reinforced the views of Mark Kelleher, BBC Head of Technology at the recent Brighton Digital Marketing Event. Mark sees social CRM as the next logical step and thinks that the BBC will not have any customer call centres in the next five years, with the role of relationship management migrating to social CRM centres.
For those who didnâ€™t make it, hereâ€™s the full session and you can check out the presentation decks from the speakers as well.
October 13th, 2011
Is global network security in a state of crisis? I think so.
I was at the RSA Conference Europe this week, with client Wave Systems (www.wave.com) where the best minds and leading commentators networked, shared ideas and worked the business.
There were enough stories of defence breach there to back the case for crisis.
But having a crisis doesnâ€™t mean that itâ€™s not manageable and the directions offered by the conference were confident, sanguine and believable.
Weâ€™re seeing a growing understanding that software in the device and at the network layer cannot provide the level of protection we need in this â€˜anytime, everywhereâ€™ connectable universal space.
Warwick Ashford wrote a fine article around this in Computer Weekly today. He quotes Eddie Schwartz, chief information security officer at RSA and it is a telling statement:
â€œOne of the goals of any organisation’s security strategy should be to create new intelligence about attackers and attack methods rather than rely only on what is already known.â€
How this will pan out over the next year is moot but we have to move from reaction to awareness in network security strategies.
At the same time, we should be making sure that our defences are the best. Layered software, in the device and at the network level just does not cut it. We should begin with an understanding that network security starts in the device. Secure that, and everything follows, right up to the management layers.
Weâ€™re in a war zone and it is endless. We will never find the silver bullet to solve all our network security problems because the hackers on the dark side will always be probing and testing our defences. Right now, we are making them look good because we donot implement the best solutions.
But we are better than them. We just need to wake up, move faster and keep running ahead.
October 12th, 2011
A reconditioned iPad for $100, how can that be? Well, if your battery is not holding its charge anymore, Apple will kindly replace it with a reconditioned iPad of the same spec as your old one.Â As reported by Gizmondo.
Because there are no screws in the iPad, Apple can’t physically insert a new battery, therefore the only alternative is to swap it like-for-like. This is also the case if your iPhone is out of warranty or you didn’t take up the Apple care option.
The service costs $99. A $6.95 shipping fee will be added if you arrange the service online or by calling Apple Technical Support. All fees are in U.S. dollars and are subject to local tax.
Most reviews praise the iPad battery life, but if you’re one of the unlucky ones, why not give this is a shot.
October 12th, 2011
If you are a Blackberry user, you are no doubt very familiar with this week’s service issues, and if you’re not a Blackberry user, you can’t have escaped the continual discussion of the problem via various social networks and in the mainstream media.
To put it mildly, RIM, and more specifically the Blackberry brand, is having a difficult week. Without wishing to be overly dramatic, this could in fact be Blackberry’s worst week yet.
Why? Well, let’s consider the background to any story around Blackberry at the minute. Blackberry’s loss of market share in the US is well documented (see Guardian article for more details) and recently there have been rumours that Blackberry is up for sale, talk that RIM it is a break-up target and concerns about its poor share price performance and lack of innovation. That’s not to mention the iPhone’s continuing dominance of the market, the recent launch of the iPhone 4S and iMessage, Apple’s answer to the hugely successful BBM (Blackberry Messenger). Add to this the issues around the London Riots, and it seems there has been a relentless battering of Blackberry’s brand.
So what has been Blackberry’s response to this growing crisis to date? Well, it’s perhaps best summed up in Gordon Macmillan’s piece on the Wall, titled â€˜How to fail in a crises Blackberry Style‘ but here is the latest and greatest response from RIM, which came last night at 10pm BST, days after the issue stated:
“The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and we will continue to keep you informed.”
No timelines were attached to the resolution, no timelines attached to the next update, and nothing has been mentioned since, you could also say that the apology was not appropriate, of course there has been inconvenience, and recognition of this would have been better.
The actions of Blackberry over the last few days suggest that the lack of communication to its customer base and wider community is a considered tactic. If this is the case it’s quite scary, as the case studies of brands turning a problem into a crisis by poor communications are many and varied, and it appears Blackberry will now become the latest and perhaps most confusing.
Why confusing? Well consider the current issues, consider the scale and damage of the technology problem and if the best response is silence, or minimal communication, then I for one am very confused, and it seems I’m not alone.
Not only is this a trending topic on Twitter, with literally every other tweet focused on Blackberry in my feed earlier today, with talk of this being the â€˜final straw’ and â€˜Apple should make an offer to existing Blackberry users’, but the real reason is yet to be revealed it seems. I only say that because the scale of the technology issue and the response to date do not seem equal is anyway, so is there more to this?
Lord Sugar (quoted in a Telegraph article) perhaps summed up the issue best from the technology point of view: “In all my years in IT biz, I have never seen such a outage as experienced by Blackberry. I can’t understand why it’s taking so long to fix.
“All my companies use [BlackBerries], every one so reliant on getting email on the move, people don’t know if they are coming or going.”
Ian Fogg, a mobile industry analyst at Forrester published the following on his blog, which was also quoted in the Telegraph: “RIM is in danger of becoming its own worst enemy if it is unable to reliably operate the communication services that have differentiated it. BBM is the reason many young consumers stay with BlackBerry. If it doesn’t work, they will leave RIM.”
As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I was a loyal Blackberry user from launch to earlier this year. The reason i changed was simply because the iPhone offered so much more, and i found myself continually justifying the reason for keeping my Blackberry because of its superior email service, when i was losing out in almost every other area. Considering the situation over the last few days, even this and the BBM argument is falling apart.
So where does that leave RIM and Blackberry? At time of writing it leaves the organisation and brand with a mounting crisis, poor communications, extremely annoyed customers and a lack of understanding in terms of why the problem exists and when it will be resolved.
It’s never too late to open up communications, but one could certainly argue a great deal of damage has already been done, and it will take a significant effort from RIM to rebuild faith in the Blackberry brand.