How to express yourself if you want others to cooperate with you – new research
Collective action is often the key to creating dramatic social or environmental changes, be it reducing pollution and waste, diminishing overfishing by sourcing alternatives, or getting more scientists to openly share their data with others.
Collective action, however, can involve social dilemmas. That’s because the choice to act altruistically might come at some personal cost. To deal with such problems, cooperation and communication are key. Now our new research, published in Rationality and Society, sheds some light on the best way to get people to cooperate in such situations.
In the world of economics, decisions about cooperation are often studied in laboratory games such as the prisoner’s dilemma or the public goods game. The public goods game is one of the best examples of a cooperative set up: participants have to secretly choose how many of their private tokens to put into a public pot, which everyone can benefit from.
The interesting aspect of the cooperative situation in this game, and many others, is that it exposes each member of a group to uncertainty, which is the fundamental source of the social dilemma. Even if an individual member might cooperate by sharing their resources, they can’t be sure if anyone else will. So, if you cooperate you are taking a chance, meaning the first move to cooperate can be viewed as altruistic.
It might be disappointing to realise that others might not cooperate. This may prompt some to opt instead to free-load, which is to cooperate less or not at all, but still benefit from the potential cooperative actions of others. The first move to do so is viewed as selfish by scientists.
So what do people typically do in such situations? It depends what other factors people take into account, for instance the social status they have in the group, as well as the type of resources they are giving up.
In reality, decisions of this kind are often made in situations that involve discussions with others. The communication aspect here can be crucial. Communication helps group members to size up the intentions of the others, and gives them a chance to persuade their peers to act cooperatively.
However, this presents another form of uncertainty. We know that people don’t always do as they say. For instance, they might be virtue signalling – talking in ways that promote themselves as virtuous and reputable, without actually intending to cooperate.
Talk is cheap
To look at the effects of communication on cooperation, we assigned 90 people to groups of five. Each member of the group had to perform a task which was tied to money – squeezing a hand grip device multiple times to get a small reward each time.
Each member of the group had a choice to make: either keep the money for themselves each time (free ride), or contribute it to the group pot (cooperate). Whatever money was in the group pot each time was multiplied by 1.5 – so half more than what could be earned individually.
Two other important elements of the experimental set up helped us to understand more precisely the influence of communication on cooperative behaviour.
Participants had to choose whether to cooperate under specific sets of circumstances. In the “possible virtue signaling” condition, each member had to state before they performed the task how many times they intended to share money they had earned, and were told that this information would be communicated to the rest of the group. In the “money in your mouth” condition, each member was told that the actual number of times they shared the money would be communicated to the rest of the group. In the “flying blind” condition, however, no information was communicated to the rest of the group.
Once every member of the group had performed the actual task, all five members entered into a group chat online where they could discuss the task, and the information (at least for two conditions) that was presented to them. After the group chat, they then performed the task again, and were each paid the amount that they had personally earned, as well as the amount earned by the group.
So what happened?
People were much more likely to cooperate during the “possible virtue signaling” and the “money in your mouth” conditions than in the “flying blind” condition. So, knowing that your intentions or actions would be passed on to the group made a difference. But how much of a difference was determined by what was discussed in the group chat.
There was a direct relationship between how much the group reached a consensus to cooperate, and how much they actually cooperated. In other words, when people said things that helped the group reach a consensus, they ended up acting cooperatively.
Our study suggests that avoiding phrases that indicate hedging and equivocation helps people cooperate. Being vague about the extent of your intended contribution, “I’ll give more next time”, and offering conditional contributions, “I’ll give more if everyone else does”, will fosters mistrust within your group and reduce people’s sense of obligation. Ultimately, this will hinder the group’s ability to reach an agreement to cooperate.
The communication styles we use can also make a difference. Speaking in a way that signals solidarity and authority will strengthen the group’s collective identity and establish a norm to cooperate. Humour and warmth help too. On the other hand, we found that groups that used more formal and self-interested communication styles, such as those associated with the world of business and politics, were less cooperative.
In short, showing strong leadership through assertive statements, expressing encouragement through motivational phrases, and making people feel part of your group are good first steps in getting others to cooperate.
Magda Osman, Principal Research Associate in Basic and Applied Decision Making, Cambridge Judge Business School; Agata Ludwiczak, Assistant professor of Psychology, University of Greenwich; Devyani Sharma, Professor of Sociolinguistics, Queen Mary University of London, and Zoe Adams, Post-doctoral researcher in Sociolinguistics, Queen Mary University of London
Businesses Tested by Uncertain Times Emphasize Importance of Responsive Enterprises
The last few years have changed everything, the world of business included. From Financial Services to Healthcare, no industry was immune from swift, significant, and unforeseen changes. While many would like to go back to “business as usual,” the reality remains: all organizations are facing incredible change due to increased customer expectations, new technologies, and ever-changing market conditions. Our research found that not everyone is thriving – but Responsive Enterprises are.
A Responsive Enterprise embraces change to create competitive advantage. These organizations lead by iteratively evolving capabilities and culture to reimagine business and reinforce resiliency in the face of constant change. In our experience, this approach is critical to sustained success; however, only 15% of firms are truly responsive to new developments driving today’s economy. Is yours one of them?
Changes We Can All Relate To
2020 catapulted nearly everyone into a vortex of seemingly endless change. From transitioning to remote work in many industries, to relying more heavily on digital infrastructure and stressors of pandemic life, individuals and businesses were pushed to – and sometimes beyond – their limits.
Early on, we noticed that some organizations fared better than others, and hypothesized that Responsive Enterprises didn’t just respond to change; they were resilient to it. They viewed change as a differentiator and harnessed it as an opportunity to maximize competitive advantage.
Our research confirms that enterprises are better able to respond and thrive in the face of change when they focus on three key areas: customer centricity, operational effectiveness, and agility. Customer centricity is the ability to identify and respond to customer needs; operational effectiveness demonstrates the ability to adapt operations to market change; and agility is the ability to ensure continuity through organizational resiliency and adaptivity. Increased maturity in these areas predicted longevity of an organization and its place in the competitive landscape.
Combined, these focus areas help businesses rapidly adjust to deliver better business outcomes in unpredictable business conditions. This investment results in impacts beyond just revenue, profit, and the bottom-line – responsiveness impacts every aspect of business from employees to consumers and all the intricacies in between.
Responsive Enterprise Maturity
The collective results show mature Responsive Enterprises are more likely to achieve key business goals compared to less mature firms, with notable impact outlined in the image below. The silver lining takeaway? There is so much room (and market share) available for improvement and success.
Mature vs. Less Mature Responsive Enterprises
Let’s compare two industries: Financial Services and Healthcare. Organizations in the Financial Services industry tend to measure as more mature in their responsiveness. And while adjustment was needed when the worldwide pandemic hit in 2020, the industry was in a better position to pivot compared to other workplaces: customers could still access their financial assets, many employees could do their jobs remotely, and the digital side of institutions allowed for maintenance and growth.
But even with their more mature responsiveness programs, Financial Services firms still had to scramble when the world (and business) changed as we knew it, all while maintaining trust and focusing on accessibility for their customers. These firms must also address the large market of people who do not have digital access to their finances or are not inclined to use them, serving a wide band of generational preferences as well as unbanked and underbanked populations. Over 400 financial institution executives predict the following shifts by 2025:
With these shifts, ask yourself: can your teams, processes, and technology adapt to and deliver on these changing customer needs and expectations? If you are not responding, a competitor will.
By comparison, 2020 turned the Healthcare industry upside down. An industry known to be resistant to change was forced to make significant changes in real-time as the pandemic unfolded. For this less mature industry, it was both a shock to the system and a wake-up call.
Before the pandemic, Healthcare systems had dabbled in telehealth, with most using stand-alone, “bolt on” tools to provide a tiny fraction of services. Then, literally overnight, these disruptive, “bolt on” tools were suddenly better positioned – and better able to respond – to a radically changed marketplace than established hospitals and clinics.
When Healthcare clients ask how to respond to outside disruptors who pose a threat to their market share, we point to how disruptors rapidly and iteratively leverage a customer focus, operational adaptability, and agility to meet demonstrated patient and provider needs. Our data shows that any enterprise – even complex, regulated enterprises like health systems – can become Responsive Enterprises.
Legacy Healthcare systems who invest in the three pillars Responsive Enterprise can be as “disruptive” and responsive to change as start-ups or big digital platform who are pivoting into Healthcare. Significant incumbent advantages – brand recognition, existing patient relationships and great doctors – mean that even a small improvement in responsiveness can help Healthcare organizations compete with and potentially defeat these and other competitive challenges.
What Makes a Responsive Enterprise Different
We’ve seen the gravity and pace of change send people and organizations into a tailspin – but it doesn’t have to. Shifting from paralysis to resiliency is attainable regardless of your situation. The data below highlights the impact and importance of highly mature responsiveness programs. Their investments are driving differentiation and market share for mature, responsive firms and resulting in increased competitive advantage.
The opportunities and guidance are there for nearly any organization to become a Responsive Enterprise. Wherever you are on this journey, let’s continue to be resilient in the face of change and harness that change for continued success and improved business outcomes.
Join the discussion and delve deeper into the insights at www.celerity.com.
By Katie Markwell, Senior Vice President, Consulting Services; Marty Brennan, Senior Partner; and David Nickelson, PsyD, JD, Senior Partner, Celerity
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM CELERITY
eCommerce marketplaces can revolutionise the supply chain industry
Jens Gamperl, CEO, Sourceability
The electronic-component purchasing process is largely the same as it was 10 years ago, but the disruptions the industry is facing are growing in complexity, frequency and impact. Supply chains nearly reached breaking point when COVID-19 hit, with the pandemic testing resiliency and exposing the antiquated model of sourcing electronic components.
Traditionally, purchasers run through the list of parts they’ve been tasked to acquire and work with the same partners that they always have via email, phone calls and maybe a unified communications service such as Slack, if they’re advanced. These piecemeal negotiations are tracked in spreadsheets, and purchasers record quotes and make buying decisions sometimes days after a quote is requested.
“Nearly 90 per cent of sourcing in the industry is done through spreadsheets,” said Jens Gamperl, CEO of Sourceability, a global technology company transforming the way businesses bring products to market through a digitalised supply chain.
Adapting the eCommerce model
However, the alternative model is gaining momentum at last and shows promise in advancing beyond business as usual. The marketplace approach unites suppliers and purchasers to match supply and demand at scale rather than relying on old relationships and slow processes to gather information.
Combined with specific functionality to match the demands of electronic components purchasing, this shift opens an avenue towards more efficient technology producers and a more efficient market overall.
Marketplace models will lead the way for digitalising the supply chain industry. Embracing digitalisation such as AI, automation and machine learning can help businesses develop a 360-degree view of the existing supply chain and deal more proactively with potential disruptions. The demand is there: Gartner predicted that at least 50 per cent of large global companies will be using AI, advanced analytics and IoT in supply chain operations by 2023.
Sourcengine was the first and is still the only eCommerce marketplace in the electronic components industry. On average, buyers can search over 1 billion parts and the marketplace boasts more than 3,000 suppliers that purchasers can access in one seamless online shopping experience.
“The demand for electronic components will double within the next 10 years, which means we have to find tools and ways to change our planning, our forecasting and the way we manage our supply chain. This can only be through digital,” said Gamperl.
The forecast for the supply chain appears to be much the same as 2020 and 2021, with new disruptions guaranteed. The devastating shortages have opened the eyes of many to the weaknesses of existing procurement and supply chain processes, and there is a growing interest in digital solutions, such as Sourcengine. Accelerating the digitalisation of the industry and how the sourcing process works can reconfigure the supply chain to be more resilient and secure.
Digitalize your supply chain management with Sourcengine.
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM SOURCEABILITY
Working in the metaverse: what virtual office life could look like
In the context of work, the digital divide has become less about access to devices and connectivity and more about skills and mindset. Many experienced professionals have never learned more than the rudimentary basics of email, web search and Microsoft Office. Instead, they lean hard on nearby colleagues or the IT helpdesk when things go wrong.
By contrast, young people have already demonstrated a competitive edge in the virtual workplace. They come equipped with a more intuitive grasp of digital technology and the initiative to troubleshoot problems via YouTube tutorials, social media and subreddits.
As a generation, they’re also bigger gamers. As more and more work takes place in virtual reality (VR) – and one does not have to share the somewhat eccentric vision of the metaverse Mark Zuckerberg articulated at the 2021 Connect Conference to believe that it will – being familiar with massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) like Fortnite and Roblox, not to mention the ability to manage multiple digital identities, is set to make that edge keener still.
Much of the metaverse is still to be built. VR, of course, has long been used in training for certain physical jobs, from astronauts and pilots to law enforcement, surgery and manufacturing. When it comes to specialist machinery or complex locations, the relative safety and cost advantages of training virtually are obvious. But it is in knowledge work – from software engineering to law to design – where the changes will be most profound.
How virtual workplaces can improve communication
For most people, remote working during the pandemic has been characterised by alt-tabbing between communications apps and videoconferencing platforms such as Slack, Teams and Miro. And there is certainly a lot of room for improvement there.
Academic studies have found that collaborative work between colleagues suffers when they work remotely. Exchanges over email or Slack increasingly replace real-time in-person conversations, hampering communication.
Google itself has claimed that informal chats at coffee machines and lunch tables in its campus were responsible for innovations such as Street View and Gmail. But, with remote working, this kind of serendipitous encounter all but disappears.
And of course there are costs to remote working, in terms of individual wellbeing too. Stanford researchers have found that so-called “Zoom fatigue” is driven by a combination of intense eye contact, lack of mobility, self-consciousness about one’s own video feed, and the cognitive demands of needing to give exaggerated feedback to signal understanding, agreement or concern.
Technological advances mean solutions to these problems related to remote working are becoming possible. Collaboration software such as Meta’s Horizon Workrooms and Microsoft Mesh, which allow colleagues to meet as avatars in VR or take part in a real-world meeting as a photo-realistic hologram, are already available.
The metaverse 1.0 will no doubt see organisations creating persistent VR workplace environments, in which employees can interact in real time as embodied avatars. VR versions of office spaces can be designed to encourage chance encounters and corridor chats.
Imagine, for example, if going from one remote meeting to another involved leaving the conference room and crossing a bustling virtual atrium. That might sound far-fetched but bear in mind that Korean PropTech company Zigbang has already opened a 30-floor VR office called Metapolis. Employees choose an avatar and navigate to their desks via elevators and corridors. When they meet a colleague’s avatar, their webcam and mic are activated so they’re able to have a conversation. The webcam and mic then turn off automatically as their avatar walks away.
Meanwhile, the ability to use and read body language and actively participate in group discussions by scribbling post-it notes or drawing on a virtual whiteboard should make remote meetings in VR more engaging and less sedentary. They require much more active use of the neck, shoulders, arms and hands than a typical hour on Zoom.
How to work as an avatar
It seems likely that a new set of workplace norms will emerge as the metaverse develops. Team games, including virtual bowling nights and virtual ping-pong tournaments, might supplant Zoom drinks as the default remote working social event.
When it comes to hiring, meanwhile, VR could bring distinct benefits. “Blind” auditions have been shown to significantly increase the representation of female musicians in symphony orchestras. It follows that interviewing as an avatar might diminish the effect of bias –- unconscious or otherwise –- against people on the basis of their gender, age or appearance.
Just as custom “skins” (outfits) are a feature of many MMOs, in the virtual world of work, there may well be demand for creativity in virtual fashion and accessories too, as people seek to express their personal brand within the constraints of professional dress codes for avatars. Gucci has already sold virtual hats, handbags, and sunglasses on the MMO platform Roblox.
Young people have been the worst affected by the disruption COVID has caused to the job market. While some struggled with working productively from a shared house or their parents’ homes, others were scammed into joining companies that did not even exist.
Nonetheless, the pandemic has also brought exciting glimpses of how remote working might evolve. Due to public health concerns and climate pressure, the latter is here to stay. As it develops into the metaverse, it will continue to bring capabilities that are concentrated among younger people to the fore.
Beyond law enforcement: managing digital evidence
With upwards of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated each day, the need for reliable and efficient data storage and management is more important than ever. This is especially true for policing, where over 80 per cent of the evidence collected is now digital.
As the number of data collection sources continues to grow alongside community calls for increased transparency, law enforcement has encountered a major challenge: how to manage large quantities of information, including files such as images, videos and social media posts, formal documents such as witness statements, and other forensic evidence such as internet search histories and location records.
The information needs to be stored securely of course. But it also needs to be found, searched, analysed, and prepared for use as evidence. This process, known as digital evidence management, is critical to the justice system but it also has many applications in public and industrial safety.
Digital evidence management
Perhaps the most well-known example of digital evidence management (DEM) is in the use of body-worn cameras by police officers. Implemented properly, they provide important protections for the community being policed, as well as auditable real-time video evidence for use in courts.
Advanced DEM systems do not just record video evidence however: they also protect police officers. For example, bodycam company Utility’s Eos™ camera records GPS positioning so that an officer’s location can be shared with police colleagues at all times. Real-time communications enable command centers and first responders to view live-streaming from bodycams, allowing them to assist officers with decision making in critical moments.
The system also allows back-up to be summoned automatically, for example when an officer enters the prone or “officer down” position. This feature can not only save officers’ lives, but has also been used to summon medical assistance in other instances of distress, for example, when a police officer got down on the ground to administer CPR to a toddler who had stopped breathing.
Utility’s bodycams are paired with the ROCKET® in-car video system. This incorporates 360-degree video recording outside the vehicle, as well as real-time communications and GPS tracking.
For both bodycams and in-car video, smart functionality enables video recording to start automatically in stressful situations, such as when a firearm is drawn, when an officer is jostled or starts in pursuit of a suspect (enabled by accelerometers in the camera that record changes in speed), and even when a car door is opened (enabled by a door sensor). This functionality makes it easier for the officer to focus on the situation, rather than having to think about activating the camera.
Another benefit is that the responsibility for activating cameras is removed from officers, increasing transparency and helping to minimise bias and use-of-force issues. In addition, the footage is automatically uploaded to the cloud so that it is available to others as soon as they need it, as well as preserving an auditable, secure chain of custody should the footage be used in a courtroom. This automation needs to be based on pre-agreed policies where specific defined events, such as entering a geofenced area or a sudden rapid motion, act as triggers. Thoughtful planning is required to get this right.
Digital forensics outside policing
Automated video recording has enormous value in a police setting. But why does it matter outside frontline law enforcement? There are several other scenarios where body and vehicle camera systems have proved to be of great use.
The most obvious is public safety. In a house fire or a traffic collision, the key requirement is speed of response. Cameras with built in GPS mean first-response dispatchers know exactly where emergency teams are located, helping to get them where they need to be faster, and providing subsequent back-up teams with detailed information while they are still on their way to the incident.
Another scenario is in the management of utilities such as gas, water and broadband. Here an efficient and safe response is what is required. Camera systems let incident controllers assess the situation and send the right specialist support teams. Those teams, observed by their managers, can be shown things that may not be obvious to them, providing them with information that helps them address the problem efficiently, while keeping safe at the same time.
Transport is another important use case. GPS tracking, speed records and incident reporting provide transport companies with key information for managing services. Real-time location reporting can be used to keep passengers, or customers of logistics companies, informed when delays occur. And video monitoring can be used to help keep the travelling public safe.
A by-product of such systems’ use in public transport systems is the provision of high-speed Wi-Fi on buses and trains. As well as enhanced security, travellers get fast and reliable connectivity on their way to and from work.
In prisons, automated video technology means a record of officers’ everyday interactions with inmates can be created. Unusual events such as inmate checks, a prisoner refusing to eat, and riot response can also be automatically recorded for later scrutiny: this will be valuable for both legal and management purposes. In addition, automatic live video streaming and recording, such as when people enter and leave secure areas, can be a helpful way to reduce human error.
Importance of analysing digital evidence
Once digital information has been collected it must be analysed effectively, whether this is for law enforcement, public safety or business efficiency.
An effective media platform, such as Polaris by Utility, goes beyond providing a convenient method of storing digital content. For example, multiple camera angles or device feeds can be displayed at the same time, giving extra insight to analysts, as well as greater situational awareness to response teams while they are handling an incident.
Privacy is another important consideration, especially in a law enforcement context. Polaris provides smart redaction functionality which can automatically redact sensitive information such as the faces of minors or licence plates, enabling footage of incidents to be released to the public rapidly.
Digital platforms also help people find and categorise information. Recordings that are related in some way – for instance, happening at the same location or at the same time – can easily be grouped based on predefined conditions. Case management is facilitated, with the easy addition of digital files and an ability to relate one case to other cases that have similarities.
This is particularly important for criminal cases. For example, Utility’s Helios platform is a digital evidence management system for prosecution lawyers, enabling them to engage with digital evidence effectively by organising files from multiple sources into one unified view. Because Helios is technology agnostic, lawyers can quickly and efficiently upload and automatically ingest data from all agencies relevant to a case, regardless of that agency’s evidence management technology provider.
This type of data management technology creates a single place where lawyers can analyse digital media evidence with tools including media playback, time stamping, media conversion and collecting different files for case management purposes.
Digital evidence can be prepared for court, with AI-managed video and audio redaction available as well as transcription and translation tools. This type of system guarantees that all evidence is supported by a secure chain of custody with a complete audit trail of all files.
The future of digital evidence management
Digital technology continues to evolve, providing powerful new opportunities for the DEM industry. One such is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in incident data analysis. For example, images from one incident can be automatically analysed and relationships with other incidents established.
AI can be used to prioritise the increasing amount of digital information available, enabling law enforcement officers to find the evidence they need quickly. This avoids the danger of low-priority investigations being dropped entirely because of the difficulty of sifting through overwhelming amounts of potential evidence.
Digital technology is also evolving to provide cameras with new functionality such as collecting ultra-high-resolution images, measuring distances and elevation accurately, even recording scents.
With these improvements in technology, the efficient management of digital evidence will become ever more important across industry and society.
For more information about smart bodycams and vehicle camera systems visit www.bodyworn.com
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM UTILITY
Data-driven SEO is the key to making better business decisions
In 2020, Covid-19 led consumers to a mass increase in online activity, and many businesses followed them. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, it seems that situation is here to stay. But as competition for web traffic intensifies, having the right data on your website, and knowing how to analyse and leverage it, will make all the difference. In a sea of competing information, the question is, where to start?
Why start with SEO?
When it comes to bang for your buck, search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the most effective channels for online investment.
SEO is a set of techniques, such as meta tags, backlinks or keywords, that aim to improve the appearance and position of your website in organic search results. Ultimately, SEO practices help establish your area of authority, attract your target audience, and enhance your website’s performance across various search engines.
Let’s say you are a new car buying comparison site. Based on some research and data analysis, you identify that most of your customers are mobile users, and that your competitors’ sites aren’t optimised for mobile search. By choosing to focus on page load speed, which is a factor used by search engines to evaluate websites, your company can distinguish itself from competitors and ultimately enhance mobile crawlability.
As your website ranks higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs), more customers see and click on your listings. In the case of users of Oncrawl’s technical SEO platform, SEO has been the route to successfully address new markets, decrease payback time in marketing spend, and increase qualified leads by nearly 70 per cent.
Developing an SEO strategy
Your SEO strategy is the roadmap to your business standing out in your industry, both in the eyes of search engines and in the eyes of potential customers searching for information, products and services in your sector. Because of this, your SEO strategy must be tailored to your business and your objectives.
When developing your strategy, you need to determine the “why” of your business plan and take into account your site’s objectives over time. Do you intend to build brand awareness, drive traffic to pages with paying clients or advertisers, or create immediate visibility for limited-time offers or news?
An SEO strategy should also be developed with conformity and compliance in mind. With the rapidly changing laws and regulations, particularly those regarding internet privacy, it’s important that your site and your strategy are compliant with data security regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. A good strategy will also build on user-friendliness – the design and layout that affects user perception – and “search engine friendliness” or technical SEO.
Technical SEO is driven by data. Without knowing what already exists on your site, making informed decisions about how to optimise it would be difficult. A tool such as Oncrawl can collect data from crawls, scraping, analytics or other additional sources and aggregate it all on a single platform. Such data gives you the ability to segment pages and consequently compare, isolate or identify those that are key to your business strategy. Acquiring data from multiple sources also enables you to blend the data and extract insights from cross analysis. The information provided from the data and analysis thus helps you confirm your priorities and adjust your SEO choices accordingly. For example, cross-analysing data can confirm that key metrics such as page titles or content are related to the number of SEO visits, or the organic traffic, for any given page on your site.
No matter how sound your SEO strategy is, its success will depend on your ability to collect and analyse the data on which it is based.
The benefit of an SEO crawler
Crawling is extremely important in SEO as a data-collection method. Firstly, search engine bots such as Googlebot or Bingbot crawl the internet in order to gather information for search results: it’s a key step in the process leading to your site being indexed and at the heart of how search engines understand the information on the web.
Marketers and SEOs also use crawlers. Not only does this help them better understand how a search engine looks at a website, but it also enables them to obtain the technical SEO and website data required to analyse and build an SEO strategy.
SEO crawl data provides insights into duplicate content, the indexability of a website and load time performance, as well as how information is distributed and maintained across the website. Regular crawls with a crawler such as Oncrawl are often the most effective means to identify new pages, broken links and other errors that can prevent your website from being an effective business channel through organic visibility.
Providing the bridge between crawl data and success
At Oncrawl, we focus on key elements to ensure that SEO leads to business success for enterprise businesses and companies with large websites. The Oncrawl application has strong technical capabilities that can easily handle complex website architecture commonly found in enterprise websites.
Once the data is collected from websites, log files and secondary sources such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console, our users have unlimited and unrestricted access to the data through both an interface and a robust API. This enables them to feed their data warehouse or work directly in formats natively compatible with data visualisation and business intelligence solutions.
Using the right solutions for technical SEO ensures that you can efficiently guide your SEO strategy development and strengthen your decision-making process. The difference between SEO as a nice-to-have improvement and SEO as the single most effective marketing channel for your business is the data at your disposal.
To find out more about Oncrawl, please visit oncrawl
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM ONCRAWL
Exit IT, Enter Digital Employee Experience: is your business ready for the big change?
Over the past year you’ve no doubt read articles, heard news or talked with a colleague about how the pandemic has changed the way we work. And the truth is, organisations are still figuring things out. Internal structures are changing, expectations for where employees work have evolved and technology requirements are still a work in progress.
One of the biggest changes to the workplace over the past two years has been within IT departments. The digital transformation organisations had been working towards rapidly became major priorities, to enable businesses to continue while working remotely. Digital readiness was no longer a nice-to-have, it became the connective tissue for employees to connect across the world. Let’s look at how that has changed the role IT once traditionally played within an organisation.
Understanding today’s expectations of IT
While IT has always been a key player, its role has transformed from a problem-fixer to an architect of the workplace. We no longer rely on brick-and-mortar offices to develop our workplace culture. Today our offices live in hardware and software. Our water coolers have become messaging channels and our conference rooms have become video calls. It’s not just our productivity that is dependent on our technology, but our company culture. The digital day-to-day run of show for organisations everywhere is made possible by IT, the producers.
But to pull this off there needs to be a cognitive shift from the traditional roles and responsibilities of IT. In fact, in a recent study 94 per cent of IT professionals agreed that the roles and responsibilities of their job has moved away from simply provisioning IT equipment. These are now focused more on providing solutions which promote employee collaboration and productivity since the shift to remote and hybrid working during the pandemic.
IT’s ownership of new tasks, such as developing working-from-home practices and training, supporting employee communication platforms and developing sustainability projects and polices, have been seen by 99 per cent of respondents in this same study. Many of these tasks are essential to day-to-day business operations. In fact, most workers (58 per cent) believe HR and IT are responsible for the workplace in equal measures. This means IT is a critical component to employee experience, having an impact on overall retention rates.
IT and the Great Resignation
A record 4.5 million workers switched jobs at the end of 2021. This staggering change happened for a number of reasons, but according to one recent report, HR and IT leaders ranked poor tech service as the third most influential factor for employee turnover and burnout. That is how much of an impact IT has on organisations today.
Today digital experience and employee experience are synonymous. It is IT’s job to create productive and positive work environments – whether employees are working from home, in the office, or both. For organisations still navigating the new role of IT and how they can be more impactful throughout the entire organisation, here are a few tips:
Expand visibility of employee IT pain points and needs
By understanding how employees are leveraging technology and where their challenges arise, IT leaders can help maintain productivity and create better digital employee experiences.
It’s possible to anticipate some common IT problems. For these instances, having automated responses for problem solving can create a more seamless tech experience for employees and IT leaders.
Establish experience-level agreements (XLAS) to fill the gaps that service-level agreements (SLAs) can’t
XLAs enable IT leaders to establish goals based on the quality of experience they’re delivering to employees. Measuring and tracking XLAs can allow IT leaders to solve high-priority issues first and ensure positive digital employee experiences.
Deploy two-way communications and survey technology for employee feedback
Allow for employees to notify IT as soon as an incident occurs, through two-way communication tools. This allows organisations to scale fixes across all impacted employees for greater efficiency.
While digital transformation was a gradual evolution pre-pandemic, today it is now or never. How employees experience technology can make all the difference in employee retention. It is up to IT and business leaders to embrace the new role of IT or risk getting left behind.
You can read more about IT’s new role as the “Architects of Flow” and how organizations can kick start their transformation in Nexthink’s recent e-book: IT in the Evolving Workplace.
By Yassine Zaied, Chief Strategy Office, Nexthink
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM NEXTHINK
Solving technical skills shortages by developing data talent in-house
Skills shortages is an issue that generates plenty of headlines. And it’s one that’s being exacerbated by the so-called Great Resignation, as employees look for fresh challenges in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet one sector is suffering more than most. The demand for technical talent has never been higher, as organisations of all kinds seek to embrace digital and remote working, and gain vital insight from increasingly available data. This means demand has risen just as supply is dwindling.
This was the subject of a recent government publication, Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap, which found that almost half of businesses (48 per cent) are currently recruiting for data roles. The most in-demand role is data analyst, with 12 per cent of businesses recruiting for this position. This is followed by head of data (10 per cent), data manager (9 per cent), chief technology officer (8 per cent) and data protection officer (8 per cent).
Yet recruiting talent is expensive, both in fees payable to recruiters and the salary itself, and in a fiercely competitive market there simply aren’t enough candidates to go round. The government report estimates the potential supply of data scientists from UK universities is likely to be around 10,000 a year, well short of the number of roles that are currently unfilled, estimated to be between 178,000 and 234,000. For business leaders, this poses the issue of just how to go about finding the talent they need so they can take advantage of the opportunities that stem from digital initiatives.
The solution to the skills shortage, though, may lie closer to home than many business owners realise. Investing and developing existing talent can not only help to build those vital skills, but can also make it less likely that employees will look to move to a competitor. Taking trusted individuals from other roles and providing them with the skills needed to head up or build an in-house web development, coding or data science team is an effective – and relatively low-cost – way of developing a pipeline of skills that will stand a business in good stead for years to come.
The good news is that workers themselves are open to the concept of reskilling. According to the government report, 70 per cent of those interviewed expressed an interest in acquiring data skills, and 46 per cent said the need for them to have such skills has increased in the past five years.
Technical skills bootcamp provider Le Wagon runs dedicated programmes to help organisations provide employees with the skills and experience they need. It offers two main programmes – web development and data science courses – and businesses can choose between full-time courses run over nine weeks or part-time study over 24 weeks, all held at its London base. To date, around 15,000 people have gone through the intense courses, across 45 campuses around the world.
Andrew Moffat, UK General Manager at Le Wagon, believes companies need to start thinking about taking a different approach to looking to hire ready-made talent. “Look inside your company,” he says. “You know there are superstars who are amazing at what they do and are skilled, ambitious and driven. Creating a learning path internally could save so much time and money compared with external recruitment, and will have a much greater impact on the business in the long run.”
To find out more about how Le Wagon could help you develop the skills you need, visit www.lewagon.com
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM LE WAGON
Regulatory Horizon 2022: Preparing for the Challenges of Tomorrow
Governance, risk and compliance (GRC) professionals at financial services firms are preparing for a bumpy ride in 2022, as the tectonic plates of regulatory change shift again within a rapidly evolving operating environment.
The Covid-19 pandemic has set the agenda for the past two years. Now, regulators and firms must react to the implications of the conflict in Ukraine, as well as responding to a rapidly evolving economic and ESG agenda.
Whether it’s new marketing rules or cyber-risk management obligations from the US SEC, regulatory divergence following the UK’s exit from the EU, reviewing financial crime systems and controls, particularly in relation to financial sanctions, or responding to the global move to implement environmental, social and governance (ESG) rules, the pressure is now on firms more than ever before. GRC must be addressed in a more strategic way, to thrive in such a dynamic environment.
It’s clear there is a lot of catching up to do with a new list of priorities to tackle.
This year’s Regulatory Horizon 2022: Preparing for the Challenges of Tomorrow conference, held on 8-10 March and hosted by GRC advisory firm, ACA Group, featured ten sessions, with more than 30 speakers and over 850 registered attendees. The event looked at some of the key GRC risks, offering actionable insights into how firms might better manage them to achieve the right outcomes.
A whitepaper has been developed, capturing key takeaways and benchmarking polls from the event - much more detail is provided in the on-demand recordings of the individual sessions, which are embedded throughout this document.
What’s clear from this paper is that financial services firms must prepare themselves for the regulatory challenges ahead. Anticipating potential risk is vital, be it the Ukraine conflict, runaway inflation or the faltering post-pandemic economic recovery. GRC professionals are required to manage these external pressures in the context of a hyper-competitive job market, an expanding regulatory and ESG agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, plus the motivation to get more from less.
Firms can no longer manage the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) burden on a project-to-project basis, throwing bodies and spreadsheets at a deadline and then moving on.
Rather, GRC teams need to think about these changes strategically, and encourage their organisations to do so as well.
By taking a more holistic view of the demands that they are being presented with and a smarter use of technology, GRC teams can not only reduce costs but also improve efficiency. This in turn provides opportunities for people with real expertise to focus on high value-added issues, such as staff development, retention, and risk mitigation.
Topics covered in the complimentary whitepaper include:
Download ACA Group’s governance, risk, and compliance whitepaper to identify your governance, risk and compliance gaps before the regulator does.
INDUSTRY VIEW FROM ACA GROUP
Your digital footprints are more than a privacy risk – they could help hackers infiltrate computer networks
When you use the internet, you leave behind a trail of data, a set of digital footprints. These include your social media activities, web browsing behavior, health information, travel patterns, location maps, information about your mobile device use, photos, audio and video. This data is collected, collated, stored and analyzed by various organizations, from the big social media companies to app makers to data brokers. As you might imagine, your digital footprints put your privacy at risk, but they also affect cybersecurity.
As a cybersecurity researcher, I track the threat posed by digital footprints on cybersecurity. Hackers are able to use personal information gathered online to suss out answers to security challenge questions like “in what city did you meet your spouse?” or to hone phishing attacks by posing as a colleague or work associate. When phishing attacks are successful, they give the attackers access to networks and systems the victims are authorized to use.
Following footprints to better bait
Phishing attacks have doubled from early 2020. The success of phishing attacks depends on how authentic the contents of messages appear to the recipient. All phishing attacks require certain information about the targeted people, and this information can be obtained from their digital footprints.
Hackers can use freely available open source intelligence gathering tools to discover the digital footprints of their targets. An attacker can mine a target’s digital footprints, which can include audio and video, to extract information such as contacts, relationships, profession, career, likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, travel and frequented locations.
They can then use this information to craft phishing messages that appear more like legitimate messages coming from a trusted source. The attacker can deliver these personalized messages, spear phishing emails, to the victim or compose as the victim and target the victim’s colleagues, friends and family. Spear phishing attacks can fool even those who are trained to recognize phishing attacks.
One of the most successful forms of phishing attacks has been business email compromise attacks. In these attacks, the attackers pose as people with legitimate business relationships – colleagues, vendors and customers – to initiate fraudulent financial transactions.
A good example is the attack targeting the firm Ubiquity Networks Inc. in 2015. The attacker sent emails, which looked like they were coming from top executives to employees. The email requested the employees to make wire transfers, resulting in fraudulent transfers of $46.7 million.
Access to the computer of a victim of a phishing attack can give the attacker access to networks and systems of the victim’s employer and clients. For instance, one of the employees at retailer Target’s HVAC vendor fell victim to phishing attack. The attackers used his workstation to gain access to Target’s internal network, and then to their payment network. The attackers used the opportunity to infect point-of-sale systems used by Target and steal data on 70 million credit cards.
A big problem and what to do about it
Computer security company Trend Micro found that 91 per cent of attacks in which the attackers gained undetected access to networks and used that access over time started with phishing messages. Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report found that 25 per cent of all data breach incidents involved phishing.
Given the significant role played by phishing in cyberattacks, I believe it’s important for organizations to educate their employees and members about managing their digital footprints. This training should cover how to find the extent of your digital footprints, how to browse securely and how to use social media responsibly.