Business news briefs: Wesco buys electric products maker Trydor - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business news briefs: Wesco buys electric products maker Trydor - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, June 8, 2012

Business news briefs: Wesco buys electric products maker Trydor - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Business news briefs: Wesco buys electric products maker Trydor - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wesco International Inc., the Station Square-based provider of electrical, industrial and communications products, has acquired Canada-based Trydor Industries Ltd. for an undisclosed amount, the company announced Thursday. Trydor is a British Columbia company that distributes and services high-voltage electrical products. The company has sales of approximately $35 million. This latest acquisition is expected to add at least 5 cents per diluted share in the first year of operation, Wesco said in the statement, and should close in July. Wesco has annual sales of about $6.1 billion. This is its sixth acquisition in the past 21 months.

Mylan Inc. is recalling 20,921 bottles of alprazolam extended-release tablets manufactured in Morgantown, W.Va., lot number 3029082, because of out-of-specification dissolution tests. Alprazolam is the generic version of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax. The nationwide recall, initiated by the company April 3, is ongoing.

After a very slight increase in March, passenger traffic at Pittsburgh International Airport fell 1.2 percent in April. In all, 672,287 travelers boarded or got off planes at the airport in April compared to 680,604 in April 2011. For the year, passenger traffic is down 2 percent.

Beaver County-based Bruster's Real Ice Cream is expanding into the mobile kitchen and food truck market with the acquisition of a 50 percent share of manufacturer Custom Concessions. The merger was effective Jan. 1, but the official release was delayed until after Bruster's could put together a marketing team for the company, VP of Marketing Kim Piper said. No financial details were released. Custom Concessions' headquarters, originally located in Chester, Va., are now in Pittsburgh.

Mendtronix Inc. and sister company Project Doctor, both San Diego-based audio/video repair and logistics services companies, announced they will open a 15,000 square foot facility in Latrobe. The new location is expected to allow for faster repair turnaround times for northeastern cities. The company expects to hire or relocate 25 employees. The facility will begin operations in July.

Wombat Security Technologies, an Oakland-based cybersecurity organization, has been recognized by PC Magazine for its phishing training software, PhishGuru. The software sends mock phishing attacks to employees and trains them on their mistakes if they fall for the attack.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time this year by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000. That's down from an upwardly revised 389,000 the previous week.

Average U.S. rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages this week fell to fresh record lows for the sixth straight week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.67 percent. That's down sharply from 3.75 percent last week. The 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, declined to 2.94 percent. That's down from 2.97 percent last week.

The founder and outgoing chairman of Best Buy announced his resignation from the board Thursday and said he may sell off his 20.1 percent stake in the beleaguered Minneapolis electronics retailer. Richard Schulze, 71, has been with the company since its inception in 1966 and it its largest shareholder by far. He initially announced in May that he would step down on June 21 at the company's annual meeting after an investigation found he knew that the then CEO Brian Dunn was having an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.

Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprint's brands for prepaid, no-contract phone service, said Thursday it will start selling the iPhone on June 29, charging $549 for a basic model. Service will start at $30 per month.

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Stocks Higher Despite Fed Comments; Vix Falls - CNBC

Stocks lost steam in the final hour of trading to finish mixed Thursday, after the Federal Reserve announced new capital rules for financials and following Bernanke's comments that offered little hope for further central bank intervention.

Stocks saw an initial boost at the open after China's central bank cut its key interest rate by 25 basis points in a surprising move, in an aim to bolster its sagging economy. (Read More: Why China’s Interest Rate Cut Is a Really Big Deal)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average came off its triple-digit rally, but still rose 46.17 points, or 0.37 percent, to finish at 12,460.96, led by Caterpillar [CAT  Loading...      ()   ] and United Tech [UTX  Loading...      ()   ].

The S&P 500 slipped 0.14 points, or 0.01 percent, to end at 1,314.99. The Nasdaq erased 13.70 points, or 0.48 percent, to close at 2,831.02. Still, all three major averages are on pace to logging their biggest weekly gains of 2012.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended below 22.

Among the key S&P sectors, telecoms and techs led the laggards, while utilities held modest gains.

In the final hour of trading, the Federal Reserve announced it wants U.S. banks to set aside more money to cover for unexpected losses, a move aimed at preventing another financial crisis. The news pushed major banks into negative territory, with Morgan Stanley [MS  Loading...      ()   ] and BofA [BAC  Loading...      ()   ] leading the sector laggards.

Earlier, Bernanke told a congressional panel the central bank is "prepared to take action" if needed to boost the U.S. economy, but made no specific commitment to more easing. The Fed leader also said the economy continues to grow at a moderate pace but faces challenges from the jobs market as well as the debt crisis in Europe.

Bernanke's comments were a buzzkill to investors who had hoped for further policy action on the heels of several disappointing economic reports. On Wednesday, Fed's vice chair Janet Yellen along with several other regional Fed Presidents had made cases for further easing.

Gold slid below $1,600 an ounce after Bernanke's comments, while the dollar rose.

“In fact, investors should be hoping that [Bernanke] doesn’t have to use QE3—that would indicate that the system is getting back on its feet by itself,” said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors. “QE3 is a temporary salve and we’ve already used it twice—it has provided temporary relief of the symptoms but it does not treat the disease.”

Investors also saw some evidence that European policymakers would act to prop up Spain’s banking sector, sending European shares closed higher, adding to the previous session's sharp rally.

Meanwhile, Fitch cut its rating on Spain's government debt by three notches to 'BBB' and added it could lower it further by putting the country on negative outlook. The new rating was Spain's lowest among the three main ratings agencies.

“The Fitch downgrade pushes Spain to the forefront, which means Europe has got less time and has got to get there and ring-fence the Spanish banks and that’s the hope you’re seeing,” said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services on CNBC's "Power Lunch." “Europe has to act and act rapidly before it gets lost to the people in the streets—the ATMs of Athens Madrid—if you get something that resembles a real bank run, then it’s out of their hands.”

Best Buy [BBY  Loading...      ()   ] declined after founder Richard Schulze said he was resigning as chairman and a director and was exploring all options for his 20.1 percent stake in the company.

Among earnings, Lululemon Athletica [LULU  Loading...      ()   ] slumped after the yoga-apparel retailer posted higher quarterly profit, but said same-store sales growth would slow.

Men's Wearhouse [MW  Loading...      ()   ] plunged after the men's clothing retailer posted quarterly results that missed estimates and projected weak earnings in the upcoming quarter.

Meanwhile, JM Smucker [SJM  Loading...      ()   ] edged higher after the Jif peanut butter maker topped earnings and revenue expectations.

Starbucks [SBUX  Loading...      ()   ] said its U.S. stores will begin selling K-cups for Green Mountain's [GMCR  Loading...      ()   ] Keurig brewers as early as next week. Rival Dunkin Donuts [DNKN  Loading...      ()   ] was slightly lower.

A federal judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy [CHK  Loading...      ()   ] will not need to delay its scheduled annual meeting on Friday to allow shareholders more time to investigate CEO Aubrey McClendon's financial dealings.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber [GT  Loading...      ()   ] acquired 100 percent ownership of its Nippon Giant Tire unit in Japan for an undisclosed amount.

On the economic front, claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week for the first time in April, declining 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000, according to the Labor Department.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

FRIDAY: International trade, wholesale trade, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, Chesapeake annual meeting

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Asia stocks fall sharply after recent gains - Marketwatch

By Sarah Turner, MarketWatch

SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Asian shares fell sharply Friday, after China unexpectedly cut interest rates to shore up its economy and the U.S. remained silent about the prospect of adding to its monetary stimulus.

After rising a solid 1% in the previous session, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/zigman/5986735 JP:100000018 -2.04%  fell 1.9%, while South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU -0.61%  traded down 0.5%, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /quotes/zigman/1653884 AU:XJO -1.09%  lost 1%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /quotes/zigman/2622475 HK:HSI -0.74%  dropped 0.4%, but the Shanghai Composite Index /quotes/zigman/1859015 CN:000001 -0.22%  managed to swing to a gain 0.1% after spending most of the session in negative territory.

Bernanke testifies

Chairman Ban Bernanke tells Congress the Fed will act if Europe stresses get out of hand.

Following several buoyant stock sessions, both in Asia and the U.S., the market mood deteriorated during U.S. trading hours Thursday, with two out of three of the main indexes closing lower. Read more on U.S. market action.

The late-session weakness for Wall Street came after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered testimony to Congress that didn’t contain explicit cues about whether further easing is coming soon. Read more on Bernanke comments ,

U.S. markets initially gained after China cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by a quarter point each, effective Friday. It was the country’s first cut since 2008 and was made ahead of a slew of data due out this weekend. Read more on China rate cut.

But Su-Lin Ong, strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said that after having expected cuts to the country’s reserve requirement ratio before any adjustment to interest rates, “the more forceful policy action may well signal greater concern over the current pace of Chinese growth and prospects.”

Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual, said that cutting rates “will help on the margin,” but generally “the rate cut hasn’t sparked a good reaction,” as the economy is still slowing, Europe’s still a concern and there remains excess capacity in China. Read report on reaction to the Chinese rate cut.

Chinese banks declined on concern the PBOC rate cut might hurt their interest-rate margins, with Bank of Communications Co. /quotes/zigman/34374 HK:3328 -3.91%   /quotes/zigman/527616/quotes/nls/bcmxy BCMXY +0.05%  diving 3.7%, and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. /quotes/zigman/37346 HK:1398 -4.91%   /quotes/zigman/529252/quotes/nls/idcby IDCBY 0.00%  falling 2.9%.

There were some bright spots after the cut, with selected Chinese property firms advancing. Poly Real Estate Group Co. /quotes/zigman/1873491 CN:600048 +0.51%  gained 1.3% and Gemdale Corp. /quotes/zigman/1867160 CN:600383 +0.29%  rose 1.7% in Shanghai.

In Hong Kong, China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. /quotes/zigman/13931 HK:688 +2.99%   /quotes/zigman/13933/quotes/nls/caovf CAOVF -5.23%  climbed 2.9%, and China Resources Land Ltd. /quotes/zigman/14892 HK:1109 +3.42%   /quotes/zigman/292800/quotes/nls/crbjy CRBJY 0.00% rose 2.6%. Agile Property Holdings Ltd. /quotes/zigman/35535 HK:3383 +5.23%   /quotes/zigman/530344/quotes/nls/agpyy AGPYY -7.69%  rose 4.8% and Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. /quotes/zigman/41242 HK:3333 +4.22%   /quotes/zigman/41247/quotes/nls/egrnf EGRNF -6.14%   climbed 4.2%.

Property analysts at Barclays Capital said: “We expect this rate cut to be taken positively by the market with a focus on more highly-geared mass market developers such as R&F, Agile and Evergrande.”

“Yet, we believe that any rally is unlikely to be any more than short-term beneficial for property developer stocks and we would see any rally as an opportunity to exit, as expectations of a policy removal are simply too high,” they said.

Some of Australia’s biggest mining firms, which count China as a major customer, managed to gain on Friday, with BHP Billiton Ltd. /quotes/zigman/180893 AU:BHP +1.22%   /quotes/zigman/270355/quotes/nls/bhp BHP +1.88%  up 1.2%, and Rio Tinto Ltd. /quotes/zigman/176317 AU:RIO +0.15%   /quotes/zigman/182541/quotes/nls/rio RIO +3.84%  rising 0.4%.

However, many other miners were weak after a drop for most metal futures in New York on Thursday, with OZ Minerals Ltd. /quotes/zigman/516210 AU:OZL -4.44%  tumbling 5%, and PanAust Ltd. /quotes/zigman/157518 AU:PNA -3.53%  losing 3.5%. Read more on metals.

Metals shares fell in Japan, with Pacific Metals Co. /quotes/zigman/197048 JP:5541 -5.28%   /quotes/zigman/197054/quotes/nls/pfmtf PFMTF -2.70%  down 5% and Nippon Steel Corp. /quotes/zigman/196304 JP:5401 -3.47%   /quotes/zigman/315692/quotes/nls/nisty NISTY +0.32% lower by 3.5%.

Oil firms were also suffering in Tokyo after oil futures extended a late-session drop in New York with losses in Asian electronic trading Friday. Read more on oil.

JX Holdings Inc. /quotes/zigman/575591 JP:5020 -3.11%   /quotes/zigman/5625645/quotes/nls/jxhgf JXHGF +8.16%  fell 2.6%, while Inpex Corp. /quotes/zigman/396971 JP:1605 -3.30%   /quotes/zigman/396975/quotes/nls/ipxhf IPXHF -7.76%  traded down 3.1%.

Japanese exporters — which had helped fuel much of this week’s gains in Tokyo as the yen lost value — were likewise among the notable decliners Friday, with sentiment weighed a bit by pre-market data showing a widening trade deficit. Read more on trade deficit figures.

Toshiba Corp. /quotes/zigman/197500 JP:6758 -5.04%   /quotes/zigman/529244/quotes/nls/tosyy TOSYY -0.49%  dropped 3%, Sharp Corp. /quotes/zigman/197304 JP:6753 -5.07%   /quotes/zigman/197313/quotes/nls/shcaf SHCAF -2.04%  fell 3.6%, and NEC Corp. /quotes/zigman/195976 JP:6701 -4.31%   /quotes/zigman/195985/quotes/nls/nipnf NIPNF +5.63% lost 3.5%.

Sony Corp. /quotes/zigman/197500 JP:6758 -5.04%   /quotes/zigman/197524/quotes/nls/sne SNE -2.06%  surrendered 5% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal-weight, and as the Nikkei business daily reported that the company may make a major share investment in scandal-hit Olympus Corp. /quotes/zigman/196968 JP:7733 -3.64%   /quotes/zigman/196973/quotes/nls/ocpnf OCPNF +10.92% .

Panasonic Corp. /quotes/zigman/194943 JP:6752 -1.27%   /quotes/zigman/525474/quotes/nls/pc PC +1.18% , also named in the report as a possible buyer for a major Olympus stake, fell 1.5%, while Olympus shares traded down 3.6%. See report on possible investment in Olympus.

Renesas Electronics Corp. /quotes/zigman/326601 JP:6723 +20.30%   /quotes/zigman/593649/quotes/nls/rnecy RNECY -8.58%  rallied 15%, continuing along a recent volatile path, after a report that the firm will shelve a planned share issue. Read more on Renesas share-issue plan.

South Korean exporters were also taking a hit, with SK Hynix Inc. down 2.7%, and Hyundai Motor Co. /quotes/zigman/189605/quotes/nls/hymtf HYMTF -8.33%  dropping 1.5%.


Birmingham business leaders welcome decision to hold interest rates - Birmingham

Birmingham business leaders have welcomed the Bank of England’s decision to hold interest rates at their record low of 0.5 per cent.

The Bank resisted pumping more cash into the struggling UK economy despite mixed signs on the health of the recovery and rising tensions in the eurozone.

The most recent £50 billion injection into the Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) programme took place in February but members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) have vetoed increasing the stock of asset purchases from £325 billion.

But economists said the nine-strong committee would have “seriously considered” additional QE.

Michael Ward, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said the West Midlands was one of the only regions not in recession in quarter one.

He said: “Manufacturers are leading that growth with fantastic products that the region has to sell to the world. Low interest rates enable manufacturers to be more competitive.

“Companies are also finding opportunities to capitalise on the poor quality of Chinese goods and can produce smaller quantities, which helps customers avoid storage problems.

“However while our economic prospects are increasing, we must not get complacent.”

Pressure on the Bank to implement more stimulus measures has been mounting in recent weeks after official figures showed the UK’s double-dip recession was deeper than previously thought, with a 0.3 per cent fall in the first quarter of 2012.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde also called on the Bank to lower interest rates further to help the UK weather the eurozone debt crisis.

And inflation continued to fall in April, providing more leeway for a fresh money injection.

Mr Ward added: “Ongoing problems in Europe will persist for some considerable time and demands for more quantitative easing have started to rise due to the worsening crisis in the Eurozone. But there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere in the world.

“High-growth markets include the BRICs, whose dynamic economies will provide a wealth of prospects for UK firms in the coming decades.

“In addition to the BRICS, there are other fast-growing markets with great potential, such as Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey and South Africa.”

The Banks decision comes as pressure mounts on political leaders to draw up a firm action plan to tackle the mounting eurozone crisis, with Spain appearing to move closer to taking an EU bailout and a crucial election in Greece imminent.

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Financial Fraud Is Growing, Post Madoff - Forbes

Financial fraud is on the rise. You’d think with the increased awareness due to publicity around Bernie Madoff’s $65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme that incidents of financial fraud would have gone down, but instead it has been quite the opposite.  According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, there has been a 62% increase in financial and other fraud claims in just three years, with over 1.5 million individual claims in 2011.  Some of it we have little control over, such as hackers accessing personal account information from financial institutions over the internet.  Areas we can control are the more personal ones where we are actually writing checks, although “affinity” scams and Ponzi schemes are more subtle and not as easily recognized.  With the passing of the JOBS Act of 2012, “crowd funding” opportunities also open the door for more fraud possibilities.

I am highly aware of financial fraud, not just because I am a financial planner, but because I live in a state participating in a wide scale anti-fraud awareness and education campaign. I live in Utah, a state besieged by financial fraud (approximately $2 billion dollars since 2010), especially “affinity fraud,” which targets closely knit religious groups. Utah only has a population of about 3 million people, so the fraud bill is around $700 per person.  At this level of fraud, the state of Utah loses about 1% of its Gross State Product each year—dollars that are sorely needed in today’s economy.

The victim’s lives are changed forever, but fraud also affects everyone.  A fraud victim may have to delay retirement if their nest egg disappears.  This means not one but two jobs are affected—the co-worker who might have gotten a promotion, and the young new hire who would have taken their place.  The effects of financial fraud can contribute to high unemployment as workers hang on to their jobs since they can’t retire.  It also may contribute to the $1 trillion in student debt as children of fraud victims take on additional student loans when college funds are wiped out. The housing market is affected when a home is foreclosed on and the bank takes a loss, which can cause neighborhood real estate values to decline.  Even the community takes a loss when less property tax is paid, which means fewer funds available for public schools.  There is also the unseen cost when fewer cars are purchased, fewer new homes are built, and fewer remodeling projects take place.  Whether it is direct or indirect, fraud’s effects are deep.

Here are three areas where financial fraud can occur, and how to protect against it:

Insure yourself against identity theft.  Identity theft may be a passive type of fraud where you aren’t actually writing a check to a scam artist, but you are vulnerable nonetheless.  Security can’t keep up with the proliferation of identity theft as hackers are constantly finding new ways to access your personal information.  In fact, McAfee Blogger Carlos Castillo writes about Trojan computer viruses ironically called “bankers” that steal your bank passwords.  Smart phone information is the next challenge for hackers.

Internet banking and mobile banking apps aren’t bad.  In fact, easy access to your information can be helpful in managing your cash flow.  You just don’t want anyone else getting your information.  With malicious hackers out there, it’s tough to protect yourself.  The best course of action is to use some basic common sense practices of protecting your personal information, and to only use secure sites.  Beyond those protective steps, you can insure against loss in two additional ways.  Start by choosing financial institutions that back you up with strong guarantees.  For example, Bank of America offers a zero liability guarantee for their consumer debit and credit cards.  Check with your bank to find out what your liability would be for fraudulent transactions.  Ask them if there is a time frame in which you need to report fraudulent transactions, and be sure to monitor your accounts accordingly.  For example, US Bank will cover any unauthorized transactions as long as you report them within 60 days of the first statement date when the unauthorized transactions appeared.

Secondly, subscribe to a credit monitoring service through one of the major credit bureaus.  As a former victim of identity theft, I try to be extra cautious and use Experian’s service that has daily monitoring, alerts, and a $50,000 guarantee with access to a fraud resolution specialist.  The new reality in the world today is in addition to life, disability, home and auto insurance, we may also need anti-fraud insurance.

If you are a victim of identity theft take action immediately. Report it to the police and place a fraud alert on your accounts with the credit bureaus.  With this action, a requirement to notify you if new credit is being requested in your name is added to your credit file (at no cost to you).  Close your bank accounts and transfer funds to new ones.  The sooner you take action, the better you can protect yourself.  The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines on actions to take – click here.

Watch out for the same scam but with a different disguise.  In almost all cases of fraud, there is no actual investment made.  The classic Ponzi scheme consists of paying off early investors with money taken in from late investors—a scam that dates as far back as 1899.  There may be other types of scams out there that have yet to be detected.  Ironically, this is actually one of the easiest things to catch.  The problem is usually the scammers seem beyond reproach.  Maybe they are part of a church or synagogue, or they are a well respected leader in the community, so the victims don’t do thorough due diligence on the investment.

The bottom line is with any investment, there should always be an independent statement coming from a third party.  If you are only getting an investment statement from the broker, and not the investment company, that should raise a red flag.  You should always receive a separate statement from the investment company where the funds are held with a general phone number to the home office.  Some other red flags include consistently high investment returns, unregistered securities, unlicensed sellers, and overly complex transactions.

Prevention is the best defense for this type of financial fraud since recovery of assets could be minimal at best.

Watch out – “Crowd funding” could attract the next wave of financial scammersCrowd funding has been around in the U.S. for years as a way for charities to raise capital, and President Obama was a master at generating campaign contributions through a similar system using Twitter and Facebook during his presidential election campaign in 2008.  Used correctly, crowd funding can be a boon for startups that are looking to raise money, which in turn will hopefully help create jobs in the U.S. “Used correctly” is the operative term because the system is fraught with potential fraud against unsuspecting investors.  For this reason, the recently signed JOBS Act has incorporated investment restrictions that are intended to protect investors, such as capping investments at $2,000 for investors with an income or net worth of less than $100,000.

How getting social can break down business barriers - BBC News

When I talk to businesses across Europe, it is clear that despite, or perhaps because of, the current economic climate, the vast majority of them have been focused on top-line growth and innovation that drives this growth.

Innovation is a highly competitive currency - it is the lifeblood of a company like Google.

And we have found that the ability to innovate is becoming inextricably linked to the net output of collaboration.

When companies collaborate, they will innovate in a more effective way.

The term collaboration has been a bit of a buzzword for a long time now, but it's only really in the past couple of years that companies have started to realise its benefits.

And now, savvy businesses are working to take advantage of the next big opportunity to drive collaboration - social.

The use of social applications and tools has exploded among consumers, but now they have moved firmly into the enterprise as well.

There is no clear distinction between collaboration and social - social tools in the workplace are an evolution of the collaborative technology that has been transforming working practices over the past few years.

Traditionally, businesses have operated in silos, with little done to encourage collaboration or the sharing of ideas and information, not just across countries, but even within individual departments.

Growing recognition

Now people don't want to work in silos. They want to work in teams and to build communities.

They don't just want to find experts; they want to find expertise across geographies.

And there is a growing recognition that rather than being a distraction or a time drain, social tools could hold the key to increased collaboration and a more productive way of doing business.

We recently commissioned Millward Brown to gather opinions from 2,700 professionals across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK to find out if social tools are helping businesses to grow faster and what effect they are having on business operations and the workplace.

The results were fascinating and clearly show that social tools are being used widely within business, and those that are using them are already reaping the benefits.

While there is a wealth of data to pore over, two findings really piqued my interest.

The first is that a huge proportion of high-growth businesses (81%) are using social tools to facilitate expansion and improve the ways in which teams collaborate and share knowledge. And it is worth noting that this is across all industries and sectors.

The more ways in which businesses can share knowledge within an organisation, the faster they can innovate, and the more productive they can be.

Particularly in large organisations, tapping into who has relevant expertise on a subject can be a real problem that internal social networks and tools can help to solve.

What is particularly useful about social tools for driving collaboration is that we all "get" how they work.

Strategic value

This is highlighted by the next big finding from the research, which is that contrary to what we're often told about the younger generation of workers driving the adoption of social tools, those in senior roles actually use them far more regularly than their more junior colleagues.

Businesses are getting over the initial fears about using social tools in the workplace, recognising that they have strategic value.

Three-quarters (75%) of senior executives surveyed said that social tools will change business strategy, stating that they had already been able to improve the following aspects of their business - bringing together ideas and thoughts from a geographically dispersed team (79%), productivity (76%) and the ability to find information, people and expertise more quickly (72%).

Senior managers are recognising that social tools allow people to transcend business silos and connect and share in a way that just wasn't possible before.

Start Quote

It's about a new way of working, a cultural transformation”

End Quote Sebastien Marotte Google

Having the ability to find the people and information you want faster speeds up the decision-making process, allowing businesses to be more agile and competitive.

As more organisations expand overseas for growth, this, and the ability to pool knowledge from disparate teams, will mean that social tools will have a dramatic effect on business operations.

Of course social tools are not a panacea for all business challenges and in themselves cannot transform business performance. The social trend is not just about technology. It's about a new way of working, a cultural transformation.

But, when used appropriately, their potential should not be underestimated. With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that nearly a half of professionals surveyed across Europe said that businesses that do not embrace social media will not survive.

Eventually, the organisations that succeed will be those that adopt social tools to break down barriers versus those that stay stuck in silos.

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