Pinching an idea from the Financial Times

The way ‘Day Traders’ and financial commentators gossip, share ideas, tips and news is fascinating to observe.

Because their efforts in sharing information directly result in making (or losing) money, Traders are involved in a constant Darwinian experiment, where the ‘fittest’ collaboration ideas survive; they prototype, discard failed platforms and approaches, and are quick to adopt the faster, easier, more successful ways to share ideas and information.

Stocktwits is a great example of this – a few years ago they started building a community (and successful business) atop of Twitter by getting Day Traders to use ‘$’ alongside ticker symbols in their tweet, aggregatating conversations/ideas/trades. Stocktwits quickly developed into a successful community and platform of ‘ideas and information flow’, making it, in my book, a required case study for anyone looking to implement Yammer/Chatter/Jive/et al into their organisation.

Stocktwits is a great example of a ‘lo-fi’ approach – using existing technology, with a dollop of smart human interaction, to produce an easily understood and used tool that produces huge value for it’s community.

Another example of ‘lo-fi’ consumer tech being used to great effect is ‘FT Markets Live‘.

Every morning, at 11am (and more recently ’emergency’ afternoon sessions), a handful of FT journalists get together and run a simple web-based chat session for about 30 minutes.

Anyone can watch this conversation take place (no FT paywall pass required); it’s a talk between smart colleagues; insidery, stuffed with early-stage ideas, company news and theories being tested. In short, it’s a great ‘insiders’ view from the FT’s journalists.

If I understood or ‘played’ the markets, I’d have some extremely useful early insight, ideas and actionable information.

But what really interests me is – what if this model was replicated inside a Company?

The format, a multi-user chat session embedded in a web page, is easy to replicate and prototype:

  • low-cost (cheap/free software)
  • simple to arrange (doesn’t need people to be in any one place)
  • easy to deploy (ditto, software)
  • easy to access and archive (it’s a web page!)

Ok, so most companies don’t have a bunch of smart, sassy journalists, but every company I’ve known has smart subject matter experts, opinionated sales guys, and people who love ‘talking shop’.

What if a handful of these ‘insiders’ pulled together to replicate a ‘Company news live’ session for 30 minutes?

Maybe a bunch of people from the strategy dept could do a ‘daily industry news’ review? Or those opinionated sales guys, who love talking sales and competitors would make for a killer ‘weekly deals’ chat.

As an employee, I’d love to hear hardcore tech guys in a company  talk through a competitor’s new product launch.

Being real-time keeps it fresh, and doesn’t bog down participants with expectations of reading Hemingway level prose..

The discussers  get to share their ideas and insight with a simple 30 minute ‘investment’ of their time, and the Viewers (both real-time and visitors to the archive) would get a viewpoint they otherwise never see.

That’s a significant RoI from embracing lo-fi.