Quick Tip Tuesday: Twingly for Blog Searches

blogEver since Google dismantled its separate blog search engine, searching blogs has been cumbersome. Blog results are sprinkled throughout the main web results, and while Google still offers a separate blog screening mechanism via the News tab (click on “Search tools,” then “All news” and limit to blogs), the results seem limited to sources in its news database.

google blogs

IceRocket is still around, but I prefer not to rely on a single search engine.

Thankfully, Twingly provides a terrific alternative, with a robust advanced search screen offering excellent sorting and limiting tools. You can also set up email or RSS updates on your search terms. This is a great tool to add to your research toolbox.

Photo source: NOGRAN s.r.o., Flickr

Country Risk Reports and Their Limits

globeFor a recent project I took an in-depth look at risk factors in a number of emerging economies, including political, economic, financial, environmental, and regional risks.

A number of firms – such as A.M Best, The Economist Intelligence Unit, BMI Research/Fitch, IHS, and others – offer free or fee-based reports. Some even provide risk scores or ratings that can be compared across countries or over time.

It is important to source a variety of reports to compare and contrast the analysis and methodologies in order to get a complete picture, but as Professor Aswath Damodaran noted in a recent blog post, these reports offer non-market, point-in-time measures that may miss crucial, dynamic information and developments:

There are two problems with non-market measures like risk scores or sovereign ratings. The first is that they are neither intuitive nor standardized. Thus, a PRS [Political Risk Services] score of 80 does not make a country twice as safe as one with a PRS score of 40. In fact, there are other services that measure country risk scores, where high numbers indicate high risk, reversing the PRS scoring. The second is that these non-market measures are static. Much as risk measurement services and ratings agencies try, they cannot keep up with the pace of real world developments. Thus, while markets reacted almost instantaneously to Brexit by knocking down the value of the British Pound and scaling down stock prices around the globe, changes in risk scores and ratings happened (if at all) more slowly.

For my report, I included some recent market measures as well as news items in order to round out the picture, but it is critical to always be explicit about what elements remain outside the scope of research reports.

Don’t Be Melania Trump

trumpobamaBy now most of us have heard about Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and most of us – I hope! – have been shaking our heads wondering how it could happen.

The New York Times had a good piece called “How Melania Trump’s Speech Veered Off Course and Caused an Uproar” that delves into the background of this embarrassing episode. This passage, in particular, caught my attention:

It [the speech] reinforces dominant themes of Mr. Trump’s campaign that still linger from the primary, which his team has struggled to change: a deliberately bare-bones campaign structure, a slapdash style and a reliance on the instincts of the candidate over the judgments of experienced political experts, like Mr. Scully and Mr. McConnell.

There is an important lesson in this: Use and trust the experts! In politics or in business, using a bare-bones, slap-dash style and relying on instincts over data and experience will always lead to trouble.

That is not to say one should blindly follow the experts’ advice or not question their track record, but experts dedicate their working lives to their subject areas and build their reputation on their ability to deliver. Their advice and deliverables can be the difference between success and failure.

At FSO Research and Information, we pride ourselves on our well-honed business and due diligence research knowledge and experience, gained through years of practical experience and numerous client projects. It is our job to keep up with information resources and methodologies, and to apply that knowledge and experience to answer our clients’ business-critical questions. We know that Google is not the be all and end all of research, even though we use Google and other search engines expertly. We know the limits of each resource and how to leverage and combine them to build a robust picture.

It is clear that Mr. Trump doesn’t give a hoot about his own reputation or that of the United States, but if you care about yours, trust your research to the experts.

Competitive Intelligence Certificate

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

The first of the three courses in the new competitive intelligence certificate, offered through the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, is now open for registration. This is a fantastic opportunity for information professionals to learn about and hone their CI research and analytical skills. I say this not just because I co-developed the course.

In today’s hyperconnected and competitive environment, organizations need to stay ahead of their competition. CI is one sure way to avoid surprises, monitor trends, identify insights, connect the dots between data sets and grow market share.

The Foundations of Competitive Intelligence course will be offered in Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 at the St. George campus. Register here.