How to find a SWOT Analysis

magnifying glass

We've talked before about Business Source Complete and how often we use it when doing business research. If you've been tasked with finding a SWOT analysis, BSC is your go-to resource. SWOT pic1First of all, what is a SWOT analysis? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. Our friends over at Investopedia and Wikipedia have  more detailed definitions as well as some historical/background information if you're interested in the details. For now, we'll just focus on how to find one when someone asks.

Most likely, you'll have access to Business Source Complete through your local public library and you can usually sign in from home with your library card. Once you're on the BSC site, click on "advanced search". Over on the right in the browse column, you'll see "SWOT Analyses" listed near the bottom.

Once you've click through, you'll see an A to Z list of companies to browse as well as a search box to look for specific companies (public companies). I'll use Apple Computer as my example. I can see that there are SWOTs listed back to 2008, but I chose to check out the most recent which is from July 2014. The entire report is about 10 pages and includes not only the SWOT itself but also a company overview and some key facts such as revenue, number of employees, stock ticker, etc. There will be an extended description of each strength, weakness, opportunity and threat, as well as the traditional 2x2 matrix which you can see below.

Apple SWOT

Bizologie Buzz: What's Trending in the VC/Startup Industry

bizologie_b_facbook_180x180

Each week we round up a few interesting articles, reports and presentations that we believe are of particular interest in the VC/Startup Industry.

Deciphering Refining Crack Spreads

In the refining industry, much like those in the manufacturing industry, refiners must balance two different markets – the raw materials they need to purchase, and the finished products they wish to sell. It can be a volatile market and many factors outside the control of a refinery may make its way into the equation – cold winter weather, political crises and government regulation, to name a few. As such, refiners can be at enormous risk when the price of crude oil increases but prices for refined products don’t.

A crack spread, therefore, is intended to lock in the differential between refinery input and pricing output and profit from (or protect against) changes in that value. It is nothing more than the margin between the raw material (crude oil) and the finished products (unleaded gasoline and heating oil). It is the profit margin that a refinery can expect to make. If the spread increases, refining profitability is likely to increase. If the spread diminishes, refiners are likely to reduce the amount of crude they process in order to minimize losses.

The WTI Cushing Crude Oil 3-2-1 Crack Spread/US Gulf Coast is widely used, and measures the relationship of the sum of two parts 87 octane unleaded gasoline and one part heating oil against three parts WTI crude oil. Pricing is daily, measured in US dollars per barrel, and historical prices go back to January 2, 1992. The Bloomberg ticker for this commodity is CRKS321C.

For more information on refining crack spreads, the Bloomberg ticker CRKS is a great place to start. It is the main page for Spot Oil Cracks and contains a menu of crack spreads for Europe and the United States.

Using Investor Presentations for Energy Research

When researching publicly-traded energy companies, in addition to the usual resources like Dow Jones Factiva for current news events and Capital IQ for financial information, a good place to look is the website of the individual company – and in particular, its investor presentations.

Investor presentations hold a wealth of information, including specific energy metrics not found (or easily found) elsewhere in public documents or filings. Examples for an exploration and production company might include their area of operation, how much acreage the company has, the number of rigs it currently operates and what their net recoverable resources are. It might also have well economic data, for example, metrics like IP rates (initial production) or EURs (estimated ultimate recovery). If the company is currently operating in the Eagle Ford in South Texas, it might break down its production by oil, natural gas or natural gas liquids. A marine vessel operator for offshore construction projects might list all of its vessels, and an oilfield services company that manufactures ceramic and resin proppants might show how their products help improve recovery in the shales.

Investor presentations are generally found on the company’s website, under “Investor Relations”. Sometimes, investor presentations are also filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and may be accompanied by a press release (usually an 8K filing).

A few years ago, Petroleum Listing Service (PLS) in Houston introduced a new database called docFinder which collects and stores investor presentations. I believe at last count, they were almost at the one million mark! It’s important to note that at one time, energy companies would keep most of their presentations available on their website indefinitely but lately, it seems, they don’t keep nearly as many or for very long. That’s one advantage of having a database like docFinder. Another advantage is that if a company is acquired, like when Brigham Exploration was acquired by Statoil in October 2011, all of Brigham’s presentations went away once the deal was completed. Luckily, docFinder has all of Brigham Exploration’s presentations in its database, so notwithstanding the acquisition of the company, the presentations are still available in case historical research needs to be performed.

10 Reasons Your Business Needs a Librarian

   

  1. Librarians have a vast knowledge of subject-specific resources and can navigate directly to different sorts of data, rather than than having to fumble their way to it via a search engine.

2. Librarians have access to proprietary databases. While it may seem like you can “just Google it”, some of the best research isn’t available freely on the web. Licensed databases offer company profiles, market overviews and industry reports that aren’t available in other places.

3. Librarians Google better than anyone. Google indexes trillions of web pages. Trillions. You’ll need a professional searcher to make sure you don’t miss anything.

4. A librarian is the next best thing to a private investigator. Librarians can track down company email addresses, create executive profiles and assemble corporate timelines.

5. Because librarians are trained to do reference work, they are adept at helping users refine their queries, which enables them to provide those users with the most essential information.

6. Librarians don’t quit just because something is hard to find. They keep digging, asking questions and retooling search strategies until they discover something useful.

7. Librarians are part of a loyal, tight-knit network that stretches across international borders, and they make a habit of leaning on each other for information or expertise.

8. In addition to knowing how to find hard-to-find stuff, librarians are seasoned customer service professionals who know how to make the experience of asking for and receiving information a pleasant and rewarding one.

9. Librarians are cheaper than MBAs. The Average MBA Salary is $113,000 while the average librarian salary is $47,000 (Updated to note that the average Business Librarian salary is $56,000 according to Indeed and $70,000 according to the Special Library Association) Business Librarians have experience doing company, industry and financial research.  Pay the MBA for the analysis and leave the search for information to the librarian.

10. Librarians have superpowers.

 

 

Bizologie Favorite Tools: IPOScoop

IPOScoop Logo

IPOScoop is a subscription service providing predictions for IPOs' performance on opening day. Founded by John E. Fitzgibbon Jr. in 2006, IPOScoop also has lots of useful, free information as well. The site has a running list of the most recent 100 IPOs. Initially sorted by date, you can also sort by return rates and industry. Additionally, each company listed links to a company profile showing the business description, number of employees, date founded, contact information and revenues. They've even got a link directly to the companies' SEC filings. You'll also find a great chart showing "IPOs priced in the last 12 months sorted by Industry":

IPO Scoop

You can also see upcoming IPOs and links out to their S-1s and a handy list of other helpful IPO links. We've added IPOScoop to our list of favorite resources. 

Bizologie, LLC to provide research services for investment firms and start-ups

bizologie_web_logo_tag

For Immediate Release: AUSTIN, Texas, June 2, 2014 – Bizologie, an independent research consultancy serving venture capital firms, private equity firms, start-ups and established companies, announced its formation today.

Founded by longtime Austin Ventures research analysts Laura Young and Michael Hill, Bizologie is the product of more than 20 years of combined business research, competitive intelligence and due diligence experience. A combination of deep industry knowledge and diverse backgrounds allows Bizologie to offer clients customized contract research services on everything from venture capital to social media to logistics to private equity to ecommerce to food & beverage to software-as-a-service and more.

While typical projects include market landscapes, industry contact lists, company and executive backgrounds, industry overviews and competitive intelligence data, Bizologie offers any number of other products and services and features a flexible pricing model that allows clients to contract with them on an annual basis or seek assistance with one-off projects. Bizologie’s current client roster includes Austin Ventures.

For more information, contact:

Laura Young (laura@bizologie.com) or Michael Hill (michael@bizologie.com)

www.bizologie.com

The Role of Research in Venture Capital Investing

According to the latest research from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA 2012), venture capital is responsible for roughly 12 million jobs and $3 trillion in revenue in the United States and accounts for 21 percent of its gross domestic product and 11 percent of its private sector employment. In 2010 alone, venture capitalists invested approximately $22 billion into more than 2,700 companies, 1,001 of which received funding for the first time.

For those who know the term “venture capital” but aren’t entirely sure what it entails, venture capital firms (there are about 460 of them in the United States) raise funds from large, institutional-type investors–think pension funds, endowments and the like–and invest that money in new companies or ideas they believe will become commercially successful. The goal is to have the start-up companies either go public (i.e., sell shares of their stock to the public) or be acquired (bought) by another company so that the venture capital (VC) firm can pay back the institutional investors who provided the “seed” money and also make a little profit for themselves.

Given the unpredictability of the business world, it’s no surprise that these investments are essentially high-stakes gambles by VC firms. The NVCA estimates that 40 percent of companies that receive venture capital fail, and a similar share produce only “moderate” returns (NVCA 2012). Only about one in every five investments produces significant profits, and it is these returns that make it possible for the venture capital industry to consistently perform better than the public markets.

While making money is certainly important to venture capitalists, the highest ideal in this particular industry is to drive job creation, economic growth and technological advancement by giving a “leg up” to entrepreneurs and helping them turn their bright ideas into products and services that influence our everyday lives. Since 1970, VC firms have invested more than $450 billion in 27,000-plus start-up companies (NVCA 2011), the most famous of which include Google, Microsoft, FedEx, Apple, eBay, Intel and Facebook.

Researching the Deal

So, where do librarians fit into all of this? Well, given that the average venture capital investment is around $7 or $8 million (though investments of $30 to $50 million are not uncommon), venture capitalists don’t just throw their money at every start-up idea that happens to walk in the door. Vetting, or “due diligence,” is crucial to the success of a VC firm. And while it is best to let those with investing experience pore over the financial statements, the research skills required to sort through the various markets, companies, technologies, regulatory issues and individuals related to a potential deal are perfectly suited to the modern information professional.

I should know–I am a research analyst for a top-ranked VC firm in Texas. I don’t have a business degree, but I do have a library degree, not to mention a passion for competitive intelligence and a time-honed knack for unearthing the kind of deeply buried information–especially information about private companies, which tends to live under the radar if it lives anywhere at all–that is invaluable to a venture capitalist. And although the world of investing was outside my comfort zone coming into this job (my background is in library science and journalism), I’ve also learned more than I ever imagined about the ins and outs of successful companies and investments. These days, I can even look at a balance sheet and make some sense of it.

At my firm, I work with another MLIS-degreed research analyst to provide research support to roughly 25 investment professionals. We also offer services to the companies in our portfolio and to our “CEOs in residence” (my firm partners with proven, entrepreneurial CEOs to pursue value creation opportunities in segments of mutual interest), as well as to entities or individuals closely related to the firm. Essentially, we act as reference librarians to the firm and its extended family, with the key difference being that we tend to simply provide the information they are seeking rather than showing them how to find it themselves. In addition, we perform a good deal of synthesis on the data we dig up, both to help clients make more sense of it and to more quickly point them in the direction of an answer.

Inquiries typically come to us through e-mail, though some are made in person or presented over the phone. The next step is often a reply that can take the form of everything from a brief narrative to relevant data points to a selection of materials related to the query subject. Sometimes the other research analyst and I will have the opportunity to use the reference interview skills we learned in library school.

The inquiries run the gamut, from the typical “tell me how big this market is” and “tell me as much about this company as you can” types of queries to personal background checks, searches for CEO e-mail addresses, competitive landscape overviews, news runs, patent searches, trading comparables, acquisition comparables, demographic information, funding data and growth projections–all of them deadline-driven and highly confidential. It goes without saying that you wear many hats in a job like this, but the underlying goal is the same: to deliver a successful customer service interaction to our particular group of users, the investment professionals.

To facilitate our research, we use a number of proprietary databases, including the following:

  • Financial data and analytics providers like Capital IQ and Thomson One;
  • Equity research portals such as TheMarkets.com (recently acquired by Capital IQ);
  • Independent research providers, including IDC, Frost & Sullivan and eMarketer; and
  • News sources such as The Wall Street Journal, Factiva and the business journals.

We also rely on specialized services like Morningstar Document Research and Guidestar, financial- and technology-specific news sources such as TheDeal.com and GigaOM, legal research services like Westlaw and PACER, federal government databases (including American FactFinder and the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and publicly available search engines like Google and Bing. We occasionally reference print publications along the lines of Venture Capital Journal and Private Equity Analyst, but 98 percent or more of our research is conducted on the Internet.

Reverse Engineering

That said, it’s not always simply a matter of fielding an inquiry, performing a search, and then delivering the answer. On a daily basis, we encounter any number of challenges and obstacles that require us to lean on the skills we’ve accumulated during our careers as research professionals. Chief among these is the fact that sometimes the information a person is seeking simply does not exist, at least not in the form he or she desires–or perhaps it does, but only as part of a report that costs somewhere in the five-figure range and isn’t important enough in the grand scheme of things to purchase.

While obstacles like these can be frustrating, they can also inspire the development and implementation of creative search strategies that can sometimes lead us to a piece of proprietary research hidden in the “deep Web” or to an alternative data point that can be manipulated to reveal the answer a user is seeking. The ability to “reverse engineer” is an extremely valuable (if difficult to articulate) skill to have in a job like this one, as is the ability to recognize patterns, especially when we’re trying to piece together the storyline of a particular company or deal.

Reverse engineering, for instance, can come into play if we’re searching for information about a private company and finding little of substance. By examining the company’s business registration or taking a look at the WHOIS record for its URL, we can sometimes identify either the company’s former name or actual name, which often occurs when a firm is using a public-facing moniker named for a flagship product. This approach can also identify principals associated with the company and, in turn, supply us with a bunch of new search keywords. From there, it’s a matter of harvesting information and working back toward the present to provide context around “who” the company is and how and why and with whom it does what it does now.

If we’ve been charged with unearthing the details of the acquisition of a company by either a private equity firm or a corporation, looking for patterns or interesting coincidences can help us find the answer or at least obtain enough information about the transaction to make some solid inferences about it. For example, if the deal is not showing up in the standard financial databases, it’s possible the acquisition was part of a “roll-up,” a practice whereby a private equity firm buys multiple companies in the same industry and “rolls” them up together into a single, larger company. These transactions are sometimes hidden from view, especially when a recently-acquired company makes an acquisition of its own, a transaction that has undoubtedly been funded by its new parent company.

Armed with what we know of other similarly timed acquisitions, we might notice that the LinkedIn profiles of employees of a known-to-be-acquired company show them to be working simultaneously for both that entity and the company whose acquisition details we’re seeking. It’s also possible that we might discover separate news stories about both companies and their plans to relocate their headquarters to the same city. Our research might even lead us to other companies that appear as though they could be involved in the same roll-up, providing us with information that allows us to draw some reasonable conclusions about the acquisition of the company we were researching in the first place.

Of course, there is tedium in this job as well. For example, filling in the cells on a giant spreadsheet to build out a market map or contact matrix is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of good times. Like the more engaging assignments, however, it is something that needs to be done to contribute to the firm’s mission and, hopefully, its continued success.

Looking back on my days as an MLIS student, I can’t say it ever occurred to me to put my new and developing skills to work in the financial industry. Back then, I was on track to be a news librarian, which felt like a sensible path for me given my prior experience as a journalist. A chance meeting opened up a whole new world of possibilities and provided me with a new context in which to apply a set of skills I’d been developing. It’s a venture that has proven successful and reinforced the notion that a background in library and information science can indeed give an individual the professional capital he or she needs to get a “leg up” in the business world.

REFERENCES

National Venture Capital Association. 2012. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Venture Capital. Arlington, Va.: NVCA.

_____. 2011. Venture Impact: The Economic Importance of Venture Capital-Backed Companies to the U.S. Economy. Arlington, Va.: NVCA.

This article was originally published in the December 2012 issue of Information Outlook.

 

50 Apps in 50 Minutes: Hat Trick

This is our third year in a row presenting 50 Apps in 50 Minutes at the Texas Library Association's Annual Conference. If you missed our last two, you'll find them here and here. A note on pricing and availability: it’s been our experience that prices for apps change often, so if you like something that’s a bit out of your budget, keep an eye on it as sometimes the prices drop temporarily or even permanently. Love something that’s only an iThing? We saw several notes along the way indicating that an app’s owner listed Android, etc. as “coming soon”. So make a note of what you like and you may see it soon on other platforms.

So without further ado, here are our 50 Apps for 2014:

1. Mr. Number Allows users to block calls from specific numbers. Will also identify/label business numbers.

2. Tile Locate anything you attach a Tile to using the Tile app.

3. Lasso Photo sharing app for smaller groups of friends.

4. Jifiti Browse your favorite stores and send a perfect gift instantly to your friends’ email, phone or Facebook page. They select the size, color and style, or choose anything else when redeeming in-store or online.

5. Forgotify Plays songs from Spotify that have never been played.

6. Washio Dry cleaning and laundry delivered to your door

7. Seratis Care coordination tool that is a secure, patient-centric mobile application which enables doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to communicate with each other via text, images, and videos.

8. SmileDrive: Records your drives and keeps track of things like location, distance, time and weather.

9. ReSound Linx: Hearing aids that connect to your iPhone.

10. Punchh Virtual loyalty card.

11. Wello Cell phone case that will track your vitals including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc.

12. Chorma Household chore manager.

13. Kolibree Toothbrush app which checks regularity, monitors brushing time and tracks missed spots.

14. Fixed Helps you fight parking tickets.

15. DocuSign Sign contracts, invoices, insurance forms and rental agreements.

16. SitOrSquat Search, view and rate bathrooms.

17. Puppy Lost dog tracker.

18. Doctoralia Find a doctor, great for travelers in international cities. Also allows you to schedule an appointment.

19. Tynker Games to help kids learn to code.

20. Smart Traveler Real time travel alerts from the U.S. State Department.

21. HiConverter All sorts of conversions: international sizes, currency, tips, cooking, etc.

22. Split Helps you avoid unwanted encounters.

23. A-CHESS Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System. Assists recovering alcoholics.

24. PayNearMe Allows customers to pay bills via cash at Family Dollar & 7-11 stores.

25. RoomScan Measures room dimensions.

26. WhatsApp Cross-platform mobile messaging

27. Paper Facebook's new app.

28. BillGuard Financial app that alerts you do recurring or suspicious credit card charges.

29. Dashlane Generates and stores passwords.

30. Penultimate Evernote's handwriting app.

31. GAIN Fitness Provides exercises based on time and equipment available.

32. RetailMeNot Mobile coupons.

33. NoWait Restaurant hosting management app.

34. Cartwheel from Target Tag items in the store and a discount is applied at checkout.

35. Onavo Extend Compresses mobile data to save money on data plans.

36. Wickr Provides secure communications that Leave No Trace.

37. Jelly Q&A app using pictures, texts and drawing.

38. DollarBird Smart calendar for your finances.

39. QuizUp "The biggest trivia game in the world" Basically a Words with Friends style quiz game.

40. Cloze "Keep track of the people and posts that matter. Filter out the noise of everything else."

41. Timehop "What were you doing one year ago today?"

42. Wonder Timer Preset timers for common activities.

43. Newsbeat Personal news radio--reads print and online news.

44. Fitbit Wearable fitness tracker.

45. Spritz Speed reading app.

46. SignNow Sign documents anywhere.

47. Uber Private car service.

48. Lyft Car-sharing service.

49. CloudGoo Connect all your cloud drives.

50. Printic "We print your memories."

Business Radio from the Wharton School

Wharton Busines Radio Logo Large

This week the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School launched Business Radio on SiriusXM. They'll be broadcasting 24/7 from the Wharton Campus as well as Silicon Valley. Hosts will include professors and alumni and guests will feature executives, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Their programming looks interesting and promises to "cover every aspect of business in an informative, entertaining and approachable manner", while appealing to  listeners from all different experience levels from CEOs down to mom-and-pop store owners. A quick look at their programming looks really well-rounded from personal finance to women in the workplace to the goings-on in Silicon Valley. You can check them out on Channel 111 on SiriusXM and on Twitter @BizRadio111.

Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index

GallopHealthways

What U.S. city has the best work environment?  How have the happiness levels of the U.S. changed through “The Great Recession”? The Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index tries to answer these questions by daily surveying 1,000 people 7-days a week.  The assessment first started on January 2, 2008, and the project’s goal is to collect data for 25 years.  Currently, there are over 5 years of data—enough to start identify and evaluate trends.  The study is a collaboration between the polling firm Gallup and the healthcare solutions company, Healthways.

The Well-Being Index is an average of six major factors:

  • Life Evaluation—how a person compares their present situation to future situation
  • Physical Health—BMI, disease, six days, physical pain, etc.
  • Emotional Health—experiences of smiling, enjoyment anger, happiness
  • Healthy Behavior—lifestyle habits including
  • Work Environment—job satisfaction, supervisor’s impact, ability to use strengths
  • Basic Access—access to food, shelter, healthcare and a place to live

The homepage presents an overview of the indexes in a stock-chart type format.

The Findings tab provides much more detailed results including descriptions of trends, demographic breakdowns, and the highest and lowest performing cities.  Much of this data was summarized after the 1 millionth survey was completed in 2010, but the link for City, State and Congressional District Well-Being Reports contains summarized data from 2012.

The site has fine-grained data not found anywhere else and contains interesting visualizations, such as this image from the 2012 Composite Report showing composite well-being data by metro area:

Gallop Healthways Map

Charts and visualizations used on the site can sometimes over-emphasize differences.  The scales changes on each chart—and sometimes skip sections (such as on the “Daily Pulse” chart).  The chart below—the Emotional Health Index—only show 3 percentage points, so it looks like we’ve made a huge jump up since 2009.

Gallop Healthways Well-Being Index

However, since these surveys are representative of the entire united states, just a 1% increase or decrease means 3.1 million people.

Numbers from the Gallup Healthways Well-Being index are used by other Gallup Reports, such as this report on the number of uninsured in the U.S., and in major news sources.  Or you could use this data to help find a new city to live in!

P.S. Lincoln Nebraska was the top city for Work Environment in 2012 (and the city with the highest overall wellbeing), and levels of emotional well-being dipped during the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, but have risen again almost to pre-recession levels.

Guest Blogger: Kari Beets is the Graduate Research Assistant for Business at the University of Texas Libraries. She completes her MSIS program at the UT Austin School of Information in May 2014.

Economic Indicators—By City

USCensus

I received a research question recently on comparing employee turnover in a specific industry between two cities.  After searching the BLS, Statista, Factiva and Business Source Complete (for any mention of data sources), I finally found a link from a Chamber of Commerce site to the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators that provided the detail of information I was looking for. The Quarterly Workforce Indicators have been around since 2006 and are collected through a federal-state program known as the Local Employment Dynamic (LED) partnership.  Data points include number of employees in a given quarter, hires, separations (quits and fires), and monthly earnings.  These can be sorted by geography, industry, or worker demographics.

Quarterly Workforce Indicators can be accessed through QWI Online and the LED Extraction Tool.

QWI provides tabs and dropdowns to choose your specific characteristics.  To filter by a more specific industry, click on the “Information by Detailed Industry” link.  You can download the data into Excel one quarter (or industry) at a time.

The LED Data Extraction Tool is more user-friendly and allows you to choose the specific data for the report.  It allows you to include multiple cities, industries and indicators to export all at once.

However, when you export the data into Excel it is quite messy.

With a little data sorting, you can get a chart like this:

QWI  is a great resource for finding workforce trends at the local level!

Guest Blogger: Kari Beets is the Graduate Research Assistant for Business at the University of Texas Libraries. She completes her MSIS program at the UT Austin School of Information in May 2014.

Twitter Secret S1 Filing

Twitter

Twitter is going to IPO but why can't you find their SEC filing? Where could that pesky S-1 be hiding? Last year my colleague Ryan Field posted about the looming red herring shortage and his prediction has come to fruition. As Ryan reported, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law in April 2012.  The law is designed to encourage entrepreneurship both by making it easier and safer to go public and by relaxing certain fundraising requirements imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Under the JOBS act, Emerging Growth Companies (EGCs are those that posted revenues of under $1 billion during their most recent fiscal year) are able to confidentially file drafts of their registration statement (S-1) for non-public review prior to their actual public filing.  An EGC’s S-1 is only made public 21 days before it conducts a roadshow.

Twitter is one of those EGCs so we know their revenue is under $1billion. Luckily, Twitter is expected to release the filing any day (maybe this week). Each S-1 filing contains unique information about each company but you can usually expect to see five years of financials, breakdown of revenues by type,  and other market research on the industry as a whole. Based on the Facebook S-1 we will probably see a lot of Twitter usage information too.

Watch your Twitter feed for exciting SEC news coming soon!

Aggressively and Passive-Aggressively Finding News You Need and Didn't Know You Needed

news and coffee

Most of my job as a Research Analyst involves answering direct questions on specific topics. But I also try to provide information proactively on topics I believe folks in my firm would like to hear about even if they don't realize it. To do this, I've set up several ways to passively monitor news and reports that may be of interest. Sometimes I have general topics I keep track of like "startups" and "venture capital". But other times, reports and articles come out that don't fall within my keyword parameters, but are large industry primers on some hot topic or another. How can I find great reports that even I didn't know I needed? Below you'll find a few of my tactics for keeping track of  everything all while making it look effortless.

1. I use HootSuite to monitor keyword streams. This way, the rest of the world looks for articles so I don't have to:

2. I personalize my Google News page to cover specific companies and topics:

3. To find newly published primers on a variety of topics, I use the Google search string: 2013 primer filetype:pdf. You can obviously make this search as specific as you like, but here I'm just trying to see if I hit gold when I'm not really trying:

I'll also use this tactic for big year end/new year reports on hot topics like social media or big data: social media 2013 filetype:pdf:

4. I've also got access to a couple of paid databases at work, so once a week I'll run a search showing every report over 100 pages published in the last 7 days. Or using my "primer" keyword, I'll have databases alert me every time a report has the word primer in the title. It's a great way to find in depth reports and it doesn't take much time or effort on my part.

How do you keep up with your research? Let us know on Twitter @bizologie!

Casual Friday: Coffitivity

Coffitivity

I just moved into a new office at work and it is a little quiet. If I play music it can disrupt my neighbors and honestly it makes me want to dance and sing along. Not conducive to getting work done. So the solution, a little white noise. Not just any white noise though - sounds of the coffee shop. Now we can all get the sounds of a lively coffee shop in our own office with Coffitivity. Coffivity links to research showing that people are actually more creative if they have a little ambient noise in the background. This is a research site, so you've got to love a link to a Journal of Consumer Research article from JSTOR. Way to cite your sources Coffitivity and even give us a copy!

I've been using the site for a week now and I love it. There is an option to play your own music just slightly over the background noise, but I haven't tried it out. The ambient noise is just right for me.  I keep it low enough that it doesn't bother me when I"m on the phone or even when people are in my office, but it fills in the empty office.

Cycling for Libraries 2013 – Day 2

Day 2 we cycled 53 miles from Amsterdam to The Hague. It was a beautiful ride along the coast through the dunes. Photo by Eeva Rita-Kasari

The first library visit of the day was in Haarlem at the railway station. The library is open during the busiest times at the station and is single staffed. The focus is on current best sellers and quick turnaround with self-checkout. You can grab a book and still catch your train. The library also has a little coffee machine. This library is just the first of ten station locations to be opened in the Netherlands in the coming years. Next stop was a public library in Noordwijk. This library serves the community and the 2 schools neighboring schools. The library is only open to the public 26 hours per week, but it stays open for the schools' use. Students are actually trained as library assistants to help their classmates.

This library is where we learned about the common logo for all the Netherlands libraries. This saves a ton of money on promotional items and creates excellent brand recognition for all libraries. At many of the public libraries in Holland we also heard them mention the "public living room." The spaces have coffee shops and some have bars and they all offer lots of comfortable seating -- all designed to allow users to stay longer and really enjoy their time at the public library

Day 2 Video

Cycling for Libraries 2013 – Day 1

Cyc4Lib2013

Another Cycling for Libraries trip under my belt and this one was tough! The libraries were awesome but the weather was terrible. This year the Amsterdam to  Brussels route was shorter than last year but it was more difficult thanks to the rain and wind. The 2013 ride was made up of 120 librarians from 20+ countries. I saw many of the friends I made last year from the Baltics trip and made a ton of new friends. I had another amazing experience. Hope you will follow along with the diary, photos, and videos from the trip. The library visits actually started as soon as I landed in Amsterdam. Schiphol Airport has a library in the International terminal. It features travel books on the Netherlands and books by Dutch authors. It is actually the only place where you can download Dutch music for free. Great way for publishers to introduce Dutch works to a captive audience. The library has computers and a lot of comfortable seating since many travelers use this as a lounge and hang out for hours. I love how the art walls make it look like home.

Day 1 - Amsterdam The first day we met at the Open Bare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA). What an incredible way to start off the trip. This is the largest public library in the Netherlands. It has 7 floors of open, creative, inviting space. The building contains a cafeteria, and a restaurant. There are 500 computers and 1000 seats for study.

The next stop was the Institute of Tropics Library - KIT. This gorgeous old library contains a collection of Holland's cultural heritage with the oldest book from 1652. The staff has digitized much of the collection and they also work with African countries to create open repositories. Unfortunately, as were hear too often, funding was cut completely and the library would soon close. At the end of the trip we learned the great news that funding had been restored and the library would remain intact. I can only hope that Cycling for Libraries will continue their advocacy for libraries and the importance of information in the everyday lives of citizens.

To end the day we had kick-off party sponsored by the University of Amsterdam. It was a wonderful way to send us off on this journey of discovery.

Day 1 Video