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Archive for the ‘Social networks’ Category

A social business definition from Clearlyso

If there is a word that bothers me, it is the word ‘social’.  It is often quickly followed by the word community.  Over the last 5 years you are no-one unless you have a social aspect and a community.  Some have gone to great lengths in an effort to properly define social in a meaningful way.  However to this day, it remains hard to frame the context of social in a business way, and especially for existing businesses such as banks and financial institutions.  I certainly is not by having a PR managed twitter account. 

I raise all this again after meeting today with the nice people from clearlyso located at CSI in Toronto. is the Canadian arm of a UK group and launch is coming soon!  Our conversation was related to communitylend, but that’s not for here.  Clearlyso has definition of social business that makes sense to me.  In fact I raised it here and here in the context of regulation, and here in the context of meaningful social capital.

Yet this all becomes hazy when I look at real businesses and attempt to evaluate them based on being ‘social’. 

So it was refreshing to see someone lay a line in the sand and outline a simple definition. 

A social business definition |

A social business is one which integrates two objectives:

  • A commercial objective: To achieve and increase profits and realise growth (like any traditional business) and…
  • A social (and ethical and environmental) objective: As set out in our list of social benefits, found in the search box on the company directory.

A social business can be large or small, a start-up or an established player, it can take any legal form (CICs, co-ops, Ltd companies, and so on) and can operate in most industrial sectors (it’s difficult to imagine a social arms manufacturer/trader)

In summary a socially oriented company is one that is doing good, and not doing evil. 

  • Customers are right until proven wrong
  • making profits from inherently devious and fake products such as derivatives is evil
  • taking TARP money on false pretenses is evil and it turns out illegal
  • forcing call time that drives revenue and does not allow the customer choice is evil, driving ‘thin value’

Why is it that on the banking side, I have more evil than good?  That’s not good. 

The definition of social has finally transcended the fact of hosting a forum, or engaging in twitter/ FaceBook/ blog comments.  No.  Rather it is a fundamental requirement in the business objective of the company that sees business profits to be made while people perceive real value, both financially, ethically and morally.

Written by Colin Henderson

February 5, 2010 at 00:02

Collaboration (1) vs Beaurocracy (0) | Wikipedia & CIA Factbook example

Here is a striking example of the power of collaborative ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach to information preparation, versus traditional top down beaurocratic approach.

I was reading the Obama speech in Ghana, and his references to the current and previous governments, including Jerry Rawlings which rang a history bell for me, so thought I would read up.  First off I checked what used to be my old favourite the CIA factbook, and it has not been updated since sometime before Dec 2008 [note highlight].

On the other hand a quick visit to Wikipedia had more than enough detail being up to date, including information about Obamas trip dd 10th July in the footnotes.  I copied one section from the history area below, and highlighted the notes about the recent election in 2009, something the CIA has not figured out yet apparently.

The efficiency and effectivness of the Wikipedia approach compared to the old style management and approval processes is stark.  [Incidentally, surely the CIA beaurocracy would at least update their site for the countries that their boss is visting?]

In fairness to the CIA it is probably impossible to maintain an up to date encyclopedia type site such as the FactBook within the constraints and context of their mandate.  To open the CIA up to a Wikipedia approach would not make any sense.  I only use this example to display that collaborative and engagement of the broader network wins every time for information dissemination.

CIA Factbook – Ghana

Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was reelected in 2004. Kufuor is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in upcoming Presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 2008.

Wikipedia – Ghana

Rawlings soon negotiated a structural adjustment plan with the International Monetary Fund and changed many old radical economic policies; the economy began to recover. A new constitution restoring multi-party politics was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president then and again in 1996 to serve a second term. The Constitution of 1992 prohibited him from running for a third term, so his party, the National Democratic Congress, chose his Vice President, John Atta Mills, to run against the opposition parties. Winning the 2000 elections, John Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party was sworn into office as President in January 2001, and beat Mills again in 2004; thus, also serving two terms as President. In 2009, John Atta Mills took office as president with a difference of about 40,000 votes (0.46%) [23] between his party, the National Democratic Congress, and the New Patriotic Party, marking the second time that power had been transferred from one legitimately elected leader to another, and securing Ghana’s status as a stable democracy.[24]

Written by Colin Henderson

July 11, 2009 at 16:28

examples of banks as leaders in web 2.0 ??

I was reading this interesting post from Cindy, when it really caught my attention with this point made near the end!

Innovation and Transformation Wings: Social Networking : Good for Business or Not?

At this stage in the Canadian landscape there are some leaders in developing innovative Web 2.0 approaches in companies like: Bell Canada, MTS Allstream, Royal Bank of Canada, TD Canada Trust, and early days for Bank of Nova Scotia and CIBC as well.

I am pretty familiar with RBC’s efforts, at least on the customer external facing web, but not at all with CIBC, TD, BNS, or CIBC, as upcoming posts will review. Anyone care to help me out, with examples of what those banks are doing in a social/ web 2.0 context? Especially if it is internal and staff use only, some examples would be very useful.

Written by Colin Henderson

July 5, 2008 at 14:53

Worklight aims to attract corporations into the social network space

Worklight has secured $12 million in series B funding. While their headline is a vague sounding “highly- personalized “Web 2.0″ computing experience to the enterprise”, the reality is that they offer a secure corporate experience within the Facebook platform. The indicate on their site, that all personal data, and corporate information discussed is maintained within the firewall, and that corporate experience is plugged into FaceBook.

Its not clear how people would know which part they can speak openly, and which parts they would be able to share confidential information though. Its an interesting idea to try and attract corporations into the social network space.


WorkLight™ is a server-based software product that brings a secure and highly- personalized “Web 2.0” computing experience to the enterprise.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 6, 2008 at 06:55

Posted in Social networks

Zuzzid | social site for insurance comparisons

Here is a site in UK that brings social interaction to insurance purchasing.

ZUZZID : About Zuzzid

Love it or hate it insurance is a big part of our lives, whether it’s getting your car back on the road, or mopping up after a burst pipe. Zuzzid is here to help. Zuzzid helps people help each other. Let everyone know about your insurance experiences by leaving a Rant or a Rave. By doing this, us Zuzzers can learn from each other’s experiences, leave advice or comments, agree or disagree, and get the discussion going. This is how to beat the system!

Written by Colin Henderson

May 3, 2008 at 14:46

Posted in Social networks

When is a friend an economy?

William posted a fascinating and thought provoking piece on the Social Economy. I think we are using some words inappropriately, and in so doing making it harder to see the future than it needs to be. One of those words is ‘economy’.

william azaroff | blog

To me the social economy is the same as what others call the reputation or conversation economy. From the time humans started trading what they had for what they needed, we had a social economy. People’s knowledge of the others they were trading with was a crucial factor in those trades and dealings. The industrial age added a level of anonymity into our economy and set us up to pay fixed prices for goods and services from the money we earn from our labour. The information economy didn’t change this at all

So I posted this response on Williams blog, and wanted to go further here.

I am going to challenge everyone so here goes. Social economy, and reputation economy are misnomers. There is no fourth dimension that has suddenly appeared with new ways to buy and sell things. For an economy to operate basic elements are required to facilitate transactions, eg, mainly contract & currency, with heavy reliance on trust.Everything else is just a facilitator- social and reputation [in the way Web 2.0 means] are new elements that have been brought about by internet, and web based tools which provide disruptive alternatives to old ways of transacting.

I suggest what is needed are ways to capture social and reputation in meaningful ways that facilitate commerce. Then we can talk about economy.

Open questions for me – whats the financial value of a:

  • FaceBook friend?
  • a five star eBay user?
  • an OpenID?
  • a Prosper group lead?
  • a prosper group lead who bid 25% on a prosper loan?
  • a LastFM friend?
  • a personal acquaintance who purchased something that you are now considering?

Relevance to Bankwatch:
Another word which is taking on new meaning in Web 2.0 land is friend. Robert Scoble and Jeremiah Owang do not have thousands of friends. They have thousands of acquaintances, whom they enjoy banter and debate with, but thats not what a friend is.

Wikipedia: Friendship is a term used to denote co-operative and supportive behavior between two or more humans. This article focuses on the notion specific to interpersonal relationships. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection.

In no way am I attempting to denigrate the new and evolving nature of the interactions which take place in social media, and I have made many new friends through this very blog. My point is only that when we turn to economy, money and risk of financial gain or loss, we have a long way to go before such online “friendships” can bring broad economic value and begin to assert themselves meaningfully on the economy.

One potential such connection is TripAdvisor. Many of us read those reviews and allow them for form part of the travel purchase decision. Similarly with Chowhound and restaurants. I would argue that is not economic, rather is a form of referral. If we place a financial slant on this; what if a Tripadvisor type service contained referrals for financial products? Would you purchase an investment based on the loosley defined TripAdvisor network? I think not.

I maintain for social and reputation to form part of the ‘economy’ we need more robust tools, risk assessment, and proof. I also think that is coming, and we see some building blocks underway, stumbling, and working at coming up with the right set of formulae.

Looking at the social lending space, Zopa manage it by taking a quite non-social, bank oriented approach. Prosper are the most ‘out there’ by experimenting in the full public eye, and kudo’s to them as they stumble, and regain their footing, but they will get it right.

There is a formula of interconnections supported by algorithms yet to be defined which will allow social and reputation to form parts of the economic structure, likely as part of the trust component.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 20, 2007 at 15:58

‘Give with Us’ – yet another use for blogs | Verity Credit Union

Credit Unions continue to lead the charge with social type activities, and here is yet another, from Verity in Seattle.  I picked this up from Trabian, the people who built this one.

Verity are providing a simple forum for local organisations, and people, who want to help, to publish their services.  It also provides for anyone to discuss, ask questions, and post pictures, making it interactive.

Verity: Give With Us

“Members helping members” has always been the underlying rallying cry of credit unions. Verity Credit Union wanted to take this a step further by creating Give With Us, an online forum that connects those that want to give their time and talent with organizations and individuals in need of assistance.

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Written by Colin Henderson

October 1, 2007 at 22:14

Posted in Social networks

Is RBC beginning to show signs that they get web 2.0 ?

It is early days, but this paragraph from an RBC press release last week is interesting to me because of the language [emphasis mine].  This is old hat to most readers of this blog, but consider the poor corporate communications folks at 90% of Banks.   They would required a white paper, and explanation for each one of those words, and why they are important to their Bank.  RBC is just getting on with it. – RBC Financial Group – Media Newsroom

The challenge also leverages several web 2.0 and social media tools to keep students engaged and up to date. “This year we’re implementing our version of ‘Innovation Idol’ – where students will vote for their favourite idea to be one of our team finalists,” said Sands. “We’re also sending students text alert reminders for major milestones; a Google Mashup feature to track team submissions linked to user team profile pages; an avatar innovator quiz; and an innovator blog for advice and guidance on the challenge.”

We also know these things are actually happen, as the Applied Innovation team at RBC move into their 2nd year of some good internet stuff.  We reported on their Innovator challenge last year, and this press release was kicking it off again this year, and making the point that the new student blog at was the brainchild of one of last years visitors.

My only improvement suggestion to RBC.  I would have known about that information on the release date of the 20th, not today, 7 days later, had their been a blog and RSS feed, and it would have shown up in one of my banking feeds, in Google Reader.

In any event, good stuff, and looking forward to how RBC moves forward with more of this stuff.  [note to Jim Bruene …. one for your ‘watch list’]

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Written by Colin Henderson

September 27, 2007 at 09:55

What Banks need to expect when getting into social apps | TD Bank

After the post on RBC p2p, a colleague pointed out this piece on the TD experience in FaceBook.  While the article characterises this as ‘not plain sailing’ I say the opposite.  This is the new plain sailing so its time to adapt and get used to it. 

TD and TBC are leading the charge in Canada – who is next?

The Better Banking Blog: Social networking rule no. 1: expect criticism

After asking the audience if Australia has Facebook (yes Brian, we have the Internet here too), Haier went on to discuss the reaction to the site from employees who were left wondering how best to respond to questions and criticism.

“Because these chats are going on instantaneously you have in some cases people criticising the bank, and in some cases asking a questions” said Haier.

“We had employees saying ‘Please tell us what we can tell them, help us..’
So within 48 hours we had to put a group on to monitor what’s going on and provide feedback – we didn’t anticipate that.”

Relevance to Bankwatch:
I predict that RBC and TD will adjust their strategic planning as a result of these seemingly small initiatives.  Thats why I characterise this as open source banking.  It is open, transparent, free, and built by a collective of interested parties.  That characterisation is the antithesis of Banks.  Hence it must be integrated into the strategic plan, with implications across all parameters, ie. personnel, technology, and business processes.

Written by Colin Henderson

September 7, 2007 at 11:26

How often does a bank ask you for your input? | RBC p2p

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) are quietly intrducing a new site that I would place firmly in the social space.  It is just getting going, and could be on a level of significance with Wells Fargo’s Studentloandown. 

RBC p2p – Not your parents’ banking site

How often does a bank ask you for your input? We’re asking, so get ready. RBC p2p is a Royal Bank of Canada site for students by students. The idea is that you’ll learn about things like budgeting or saving or investments, from people who are going through the same things you are.

I like the tone, and the style.  Its very non-traditional bank, and that is refreshing.  I imagine the internal corporate communication folks are having a bit of a challenge, and that for me would be the litmus test for potential success, so good for them.

For now, they are seeking submissions from bloggers/ vloggers which will be narrowed down, to 6 by students voting for them. 

This will be a real test for RBC and if they can pull it off, with the right balance of openness and relevance for the intended audience, then this could be a winner.  Its a good sign that the site can be posted to FaceBook/ etc.

Relevance to Bankwatch
This is significant, because it means RBC is outsourcing advice to students for students, at least in their stated intent.  That is the litmus test, that qualifies this is a social app, and into the realm of open source banking.

RBC p2p will feature video and text blogs written and produced by six
university or college students, the RBC p2p bloggers, so this will be
truly your voice, and reflect what’s really on your mind. Not what some
middle-aged bankers think could be on your mind.

(optional – my opinions and suggestions follow)

My suggestion to RBC is be prepared to bend with the wind, and do not expect this thing to turn out exactly as intended, but thats ok if it remains relevant, fun, and informative for students.  While budgetting is interesting (hmmm) its not the only thing on students minds by a long shot, so my suggestion would be to take a broad view of the relevance to students.  Also, why not build an app within Facebook F8 to follow the topics using RSS – not as hard as it sounds, no matter what the IT people tell you. Remember its important to be where they are, rather than have them come to you all the time.

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Written by Colin Henderson

September 7, 2007 at 10:32

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