Daniel Pimlot and Tim Bradshaw’s article in Monday’s FT identifies that the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street is now using Google to harvest data. Definitely a milestone and should be applauded but with caution. Not as far as the concept is concerned but definitely on the search criteria being used and on the reliability of the information being harvested. The first point will have a direct bearing on the second.

Dan and Tim’s article identifies just two search terms one is ‘estate agents’. That term alone will only yield a fraction of the possible searches. It’s doubtful that many would search simply for ‘estate agents’. When all the possibilities such as ‘houses for sale’, ‘flats for sale’ etc plus the geographic terms are considered the list of relevant key phrases will grow hugely. Has the Bank followed this line?

Search data of this nature will be most powerful in indicating trends. Increased searches month on month will suggest that the market is ‘warming up’. And the records coming from the traditional sources will confirm (or not) the early indicators relayed through Google.

There are important messages here. Traditional organizations are ill advised to ignore the modern resources now available to help run businesses. The Bank of England is pointing the way but how many companies still have their heads firmly in the sand, even now? There are many examples of business failure that directly relate to a refusal to grasp the Internet opportunity. Businesses must make proper and realistic budgetary provision to use the Internet for a myriad of sound business reasons.

It’s so much more than ‘getting a quote’ for a new web site. The approach has to be totally strategic and all encompassing. Firms must select an agency that can lay out a properly planned approach that takes account of branding, message development, the practical aspects of the daily work and critically, attracting new business. The opportunities ‘online’ are mesmerizing. All businesses need an agency in place that can make it all work. Identify the gaps, relate to the company, its staff, its customers and critically all the firms and people out there that aren’t customers.

However it is essential that sight of the many benefits still relevant in the ‘old world’ are not lost. Many of the old ‘givens’ should be retained, integrated and combined with all the new ways of working. Analyzing and synchronizing all the information at the very least will double its value.

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