Breaking research down into relevant practice areas helps assess how to design and manage the process. These are core areas below where research and analysis will keep you and your team "in the know"
As social media platforms have emerged as significant outlets for financial services firms and investors - this means an enormous amount of information in the categories above is going online from blogs to Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter and beyond. Harnessing these new social resources can be a valuable new channel of information in your research process.
New tools have begun to arise that leverage traditional channels information paired with this new social sphere of information. I have been evaluating two tools, Gist and Workstreamer, that plug in to the research process perfectly.
Gist connects to your accounts - Google Apps, Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter and more - indexing your contacts into a dashboard of people and companies. It sweeps the social web for new publicly published content for these contacts and provides a daily menu of information you can filter, search and otherwise assemble into a briefing book. I find it most valuable for preparing for meetings with my contacts and having the latest information in hand about topics important to them - based on recent blog and social media posts.
Workstreamer provides a strong platform for cultivating data on companies from their own web sites as well as Twitter, LinkedIn, web searches, Jigsaw, Salesforce.com and more. Under each business that you enter to follow in Workstreamer, the app builds a hyperlink menu to all of the sources currently offering public information for that company. Additionally it adds a tag cloud as a visual queue to what each company has been talking about most. In the example below I use 37Signals (the CRM we use) and Advisor Products.
Distinguishing between the two services - Gist leverages your address book and can generate more personalized and personal (though it only sees public data) types of dashboards for your use. As I mentioned - I leverage it mostly with clients and partners to accentuate what is maintained in CRM. Workstreamer is built more for market intelligence - a great prospecting and due diligence tool.
Both products are currently free and in beta - however - there may be a pricing tier at some point in the future.