To follow up on our recent double feature in Charity Finance a number of Civil Society leaders and friends will be gathering at Z/Yen’s offices on 26 June for a briefing and discussion. We will be looking at the use of predictive techniques, such as Support Vector Machine (SVM) to rejuvenate lapsed donors/members, prevent lapses and thus boost regular income, with only limited extra cost and effort.
In other sectors, SVMs have been used successfully, for example in healthcare to spot early stage cancer and heart disease on scans; in financial services to separate out potentially anomalous transactions amongst a plethora of regular trades; in the media to predict television viewing figures and on-line hit rates. It seemed likely to us that the Civil Society sector, with its own types of "big data", could boost income and retain donors/members with such tools. So it has proved.
Within the Civil Society community there is a great tradition of sharing experience and ideas. We think these case studies and suggestions make a fantastic starting point for Civil Society leaders to meet and share their various work and experience in these areas.
The event will be chaired by Ian Theodoresen, the Chief Financial Officer of National Church Institutions and chair of Charity Finance Directors' Group. After a brief presentation from Ian Harris, Director of Z/Yen Group, there will be panel-style discussion enabling all participants to make comments and/or ask questions. There are only a couple of places left at this event, so if you are interested, please register as soon as you can at http://www.zyen.com/onlinebooking?id=26June2013
The Security Forward Risk & Intelligence Forum’s quarterly meeting was held on the 16 May on board the Thames Sailing Barge Lady Daphne at St Katherine’s Dock in London. We had a good turnout from regulars mixed with a few new faces. The meeting started with a presentation from our Speaker in Residence, Lt Col Crispin Black and was entitled “The Drone Club”. Crispin started with a provocative paraphrase of Hilaire Belloc, “whatever happens, we have got the unmanned drone and they have not”. Crispin shared his research into surveillance drones and asked what can be kept secret any more. Drone use has moved from the military to border patrol and even corporate security, e.g. it was pointed out that the oil & gas industry is interested in surveillance drones for pipeline protection. Crispin then moved on to discuss armed drones and asked if anywhere is safe. There was a heated discussion about the morality of ‘signature strikes’ and how targeted assassinations might prove irresistible, yet wreak tremendous change in the nature of conflict. During the conversation, many digs were directed at Crispin’s new thriller, “The Falklands Intercept” and the difficulty for parachute regiment veterans of finding sailing barges in broad daylight on time.
After our usual round robin to identify key issues and concerns, where cyber and culture again featured, our second speaker was Professor Martin Gill, who is a Director of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International. Martin’s talk was entitled “Security Management in the 21st Century: Adding Value To Business”. He pointed out that security affects all aspects of the organisation and has the potential to impact positively if managed well and negatively if mismanaged or not managed at all. Either way the impact can be considerable. Martin then went on to suggest that the security function is often marginalised by mainstream management. Whilst security is centre-stage in a crisis, once that crisis has passed, it reverts to a less influential role. Martin felt that many Heads of Security are uncomfortable with profit-and-loss, balance sheet sheets and other business decision tools, also often lacking business process knowledge. This leaves them to operate at an operational rather than strategic level. His conclusion was that security should not be seen as a cost centre, as has been traditional, but that investments in security should not be considered as a financial burden that should be kept to the minimum level necessary. Martin’s focus was aligning security with opportunities for improving business performance and profitability. During the discussion it was suggested that the term Risk better encompassed the Security function, that security people perhaps shouldn’t aspire to being ‘C-level’ and that volatility reduction (valuing security interventions using option pricing) might be a better approach to integrate with financial decisions alongside cost-benefit analysis. Martin also put forward a provocative suggestion that financial reports should include a statement of asset losses, i.e. the cost of poor security.
Before dinner we quaffed our traditional post-discussion cocktail, in this case a traditional Drone’s Club drink, Buck’s Fizz. After dinner we enjoyed a short, well-structured and incisive talk by Commander Steve Tatham RN from the Ministry of Defence. Steve shared some of his experiences in Afghanistan and North and East Africa, when he commanded 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group. His new book, co-authored with Major General Andrew Mackay, is entitled “Behavioural Conflict: Why Understanding People And Their Motivations Will Prove Decisive In Future Conflict”. Steve and his co-author put forward a thesis that a wider understanding of behavioural science and new techniques of influence, many from commerce, will challenge our ability to engage with people using new media. That said, Steve believes we can see the outlines of an emerging science of influence. He gave some excellent examples to support his thesis from the Arab Spring where there were ‘unknown knowns’, i.e. research indicated things contrary to traditional power shifts were likely to happen, but research was ignored. Steve led a lively discussion. At the end of the evening Security Forward was pleased to present everyone with copies of both Steve’s book and Crispin’s novel.
The world is a busy place. ExtZy’s “Countries” Market is a marketplace where players buy and sell shares which pay dividends based on a country’s web mentions, as calculated by search engines each week. Each share has a price and dividend earnings. Thus the price/earnings ratio (P/E) of countries in such a market is an indicator of whether or not players predict a higher than normal rate of mentions (high P/E) looking forward, or a lower than normal rate of mentions (low P/E) looking forward. ExtZy players get their news from similar sources and are unlikely to have private knowledge. Even if they had private knowledge of major events, it would be immodest to suggest that they run to ExtZy to trade. Players successfully predicted sustained upturns in UK (Jubilee and Olympics) news and US (presidential elections). Players were unsuccessful in guessing future Chinese dividends (leadership change). Other markets where players had moderate predictive success in determining new levels were Spain (banking crisis), Greece (economic crisis fatigue) and Egypt (regime change). The Countries Market does seem to be able to determine when news will rise to a new level and ‘hold’, or drop to a new level. To read more http://www.extzy.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142:extzy-2012-the-world-in-review&catid=39&Itemid=91 We look forward to looking back in 2014.
On 13 March 2013, the Long Finance Spring Conference "How To Innovate, What To Regulate: Achieving Real Change On The Road To Long Finance" was kindly hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Professor Thorsten Beck (Tilburg University) delivered an impressive keynote address on financial innovation. This was followed by a first panel discussion on the same topic with Barbara Ridpath and John Authers. The second part of the conference explored the risks, opportunities and innovative financial mechanisms for investment in green technology with Chris Hewett, Professor Richard Templer and Jan-Peter Onstwedder.
Videos, transcripts and more resources are now all available on Gresham College website.
The Security Forward Risk & Intelligence Forum’s quarterly meeting was held on 7 February at Z/Yen offices in the City. We had a good team turnout and a few new faces. The meeting started with a presentation from our Speaker in Residence, Lt Col Crispin Black entitled "Snakes and Ladders? The Rise and Fall of Great Powers - A Guide for Those on the Clapham Omnibus.” Crispin introduced a cautionary note about the rise and rise of China by questioning the comfortable western idea, derived from Hegel, that human history is an upwards path of liberty and personal fulfilment. Just as Hegel was developing this theory as a professor at the University of Jena, Napoleon was busy winning a battle nearby that kicked off the savage Franco-Prussian rivalry that laid waste to the European Continent twice in the Twentieth Century. Crispin said that one of the wild cards about the future of China is its attitude to military glory-perhaps the eighth deadly sin. Appeals to the popular hatred of the Japanese stemming from their actions in the 1930’s and 1940’s in China might one day run out of control or be appropriated by a member of the politburo with fewer scruples even than his colleagues. The talk was followed by some lively discussion, which is a trademark of Cripsin's presentations.
After our usual round-robin to identify key issues and concerns, our second speaker was Robert Ghanea-Hercock. Robert gave a talk entitled "Complexity and Security". Robert is a Chief Research Scientist in the British Telecommunications Security Research Practice and has many years of experience managing security research projects in the UK. He was theme leader for networks and security in he UK MOD Information Fusion Defence Technology Centre. Robert stressed the need for a resilient network and pointed out that hackers can be really creative people. He is also of the opinion that most people are bad at risk assessment and have a tendency to keep building the Maginot line. "We face unprecedented challenges in securing the information assets and intellectual property of our public and private organisations." He said that the cyber domain is where there are far more avenues for attack than there are ways to defend. This was a fascinating and absorbing talk, although worrying in its implications for the future. Robert managed to make a complex subject seem simple and clear, with numerous exciting images, and his talk generated quite a lot of discussion. After dinner we enjoyed some comments by Mike Sixsmith who has enjoyed a long and varied career in counter terrorism and intelligence and set up a security company in Dubai, as well as working in Angola and Zaire. His recently published novel is entitled Exit Plan, and looks at terrorism and the jihad. Everyone left with a signed copy - examinations at our next conclave in May.