The AP Twitter Hack: Technological glitches and their effects on business

By Annie Burnham

There is now no question about the effect that social media has on business. This week the US saw firsthand that Twitter can create chaos for the economy. Tuesday, around 1 p.m. EST, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked and sent out a tweet that said, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” The tweet remained up for almost three minutes and was retweeted more than 1850 times.

Drop in the DOW in Tuesday Image Credit: CNN Money

Drop in the DOW in Tuesday
Image Credit: CNN Money

The Syrian Electronic Army, the group claiming responsibility for the @AP hack, is also suspected of hacking @60minutes and @CBSDenver. We have heard more and more about Twitter accounts being hacked and causing mayhem in the last few months. What long-term impacts will this have on business use of the social media site?

These most recent hacks bring to light several questions. The first one is why hasn’t Twitter found a way to beef up security for Twitter accounts – especially of prominent organizations in society? One must also ask what potential threats do fake tweets pose for the economy? We saw the DOW drop 144 points in seconds, all based on a fake tweet!

One article from The Telegraph in the UK commented on the fact that this issue isn’t with the account getting hacked so much as it is about humanity as a whole relying too much on technology. The computers that run the stock exchange move so fast that stock brokers cannot possibly keep up with the constantly changing pace. Another major concern is that if something is online, it can be hacked. In 2010, during the “flash crash,” a rogue algorithm wiped one trillion dollars from the stock shares.

With the constant developments in social media, companies are going to have to be more careful with monitoring their accounts. This occurrence on Tuesday has left businesses wondering if the business world has become too dependent on social media.

Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication and of computer and information science at Cornell University, says the AP Twitter hack is the latest evidence that social media has grown up.

Wall Street Stock Exchange Image Credit: US Defense Department

Wall Street Stock Exchange
Image Credit: US Defense Department

USA Today interviewed Hancock about the drop in the market this week after the Twitter hack. “Our trust of social media has reached new levels. It’s amazing that things like social media have gone from something the ‘kids do’ to affecting how the market operates,” said Hancock. “This response also highlights that humans have a built in [sic] truth bias to believe what others say. Although there is a lot of suspicion about the Internet in general, the truth bias is alive and well with social media.”

Advertisements

Ben Hilzer on the Business of Theater and the Theatrics of Business

by Tim Pate

As you may have gleaned from this blog, I’m quite proud of the College of Business, from which I am earning a minor in business administration. However, I am also delighted to be a part of the College of Liberal Arts, where I am earning my degree in Journalism and Technical Communication. Both Colleges have incredible academic programs, and they each host activities and events that enhance the college experience for their students.

Ben Hilzer
Image credit: Ben Hilzer

Enter Ben Hilzer, a junior accounting and finance student in the College of Business, who lives at the intersection of these two colleges. In addition to being a fervent business student, Hilzer is also a self-proclaimed thespian and played the character “Jake” in Colorado State University’s production of “Evil Dead: The Musical.” I saw the R-rated show on opening night and laughed myself to tears. Hilzer’s character is a tobacco-spittin’ hillbilly with surprisingly good singing abilities, and he was one of the highlights of the show.

Hilzer’s Twitter feed is an eclectic combination of his thoughts on business, theater, sports, and music. He displays such enthusiasm for these areas of his life; I knew his perspective would be an interesting one for this blog. So, I caught up with Hilzer a couple days ago to talk about his unique dedication to business and the arts. Here is our exchange:

TP: What has being in Evil Dead taught you about business, and vice versa?

BH: Being in “Evil Dead: The Musical,” as well as theater in general, has shown me the distinct overlap between business and theater. Most notably, the importance of your personal brand. In business, we try to develop our personal brand for job interviews and career building; similarly in theater, your personal brand is crucial for auditions and development for your acting career.

TP: Tell me a little about what you do to build your personal brand. 

BH: To build my personal brand I like to keep a strong online presence, most notably with Twitter and LinkedIn. I comment on finance and business aspects while also staying true to my arts/entertainment passion; I like to stay up to date with news. I also attend networking events CSU and the COB put on so I can constantly promote my personal brand: a passionate, always growing student.

TP: How do you balance the two things you are pursuing?

BH: I balance the two things by allocating my time during the day to my studies and the rest to theater. There is also never a bad time in between classes to memorize lines or learn a song. Acting and performing is such an amazing escape but still remains practical in business.

TP: Can you tell us a little about the audition process and how it compares to a job interview? 

BH: The audition process begins with a monologue in front of directors for every show for the semester. The directors then call you back specifically for their show to see where you can fit (for Evil Dead, we had to perform a song as well). After that, the directors post a cast list and rehearsals begin. The audition process relates to a job interview in the regard that both are trying to prove to someone why you will fit in and benefit their team (or show).  Whether that is with outstanding leadership in business or your characterization and ability to take direction in acting, both have the sole purpose of showing someone you can benefit them.

TP: What was your favorite part about performing in Evil Dead?

Image credit: Colorado State University

BH: My favorite part about performing in Evil Dead was playing such a zany character and being a part of such an amazing production. The special effects, props, projections, sounds, lights, they’re all amazing and something I have never seen before. It truly is an amazing show to watch and be a part of.

TP: What do you want to do when you graduate? 

BH: When I graduate, I would like to be associated with the arts/entertainment in some way.  I am studying accounting and finance, so integrating the two would be ideal; however, I am all about opportunities.

Hilzer is also a vocalist and pianist for the band Three Plus Me, which plays in various locations around Fort Collins, as well as a member of the Dean’s Student Leadership Council in the College of Business (as though he wasn’t already involved enough).

This weekend marks the final showings of “Evil Dead: The Musical,” and I highly recommend that you attend (unless you don’t do well with blood, that is). The production starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the University Center for the Arts. Tickets are available online.

Be bold – sit in the “splash zone,” and watch what a business student can do on the stage.

Ron Johnson’s Mistake: The Importance of Market Research

By Annie Burnham

On Monday, April 8, JC Penney fired its CEO, Ron Johnson, and rehired previous CEO, Mike Ullman. Johnson was hired in an effort to improve the corporation’s profits after the 2008 recession; unfortunately, Johnson tried to make too many changes too quickly. Now, with 700 stores in the middle of a costly remodel, the (once again) new CEO Ullman has his work cut out for him.

The news that JC Penney was letting go of Ron Johnson came as no surprise to many. According to one source, the industry had started taking bets on when he would be ousted. “His Q4 2012 was probably the worst quarterly performance ever in the history of major retail,” wrote Business Insider, Jim Edwards.

“One of the big mistakes was perhaps too much change too quickly without adequate testing on what the impact would be,” Ackman said at a Reuters conference last week.

Mark Ellwood, a retail expert and author of the upcoming book “Bargain Fever”, compared Johnson to Marie Antoinette. “He always seemed slightly embarrassed that he was dealing in middle market product,” Ellwood said. “His attitude when he gave a rare interview was very much along the lines of ‘let me tell them what’s good for them,’ rather than ‘tell me what you want as a customer and let me see how I can achieve that.”

Business 2 Community stated that market research should underpin everything your business does, something the College of Business prides itself on. The research skills that are taught in the classroom compliment the outstanding work done for organizations by our faculty and graduates.

If Johnson had used the same types of research techniques and strategies that CSU COB students are taught, he would have been able to make better-informed decisions. Johnson may have avoided financial loss and disdain for his leadership by testing the market to see if the idea works with JC Penney’s consumer base.

Johnson created one of his problems by pushing away loyal customers and ignoring their needs. JC Penney has been around for 111 years and has a large customer base. Johnson treated JC Penney customers like he treated Apple’s customers, despite the differences between the companies and their customers. The failure to recognize those differences coupled with the sudden and vast number of changes helped lead to Johnsons failures as CEO.

Had Johnson spent more time getting to know the customer base, testing his plan to remodel stores, and not doing away with the coupon sales that drove much of JC Penney’s revenue, he might still be CEO of JC Penney, slowly transforming another retailer into a Wall Street superpower. Let this be a lesson to you readers – doing your homework pays off in the long run.

 

Business Day 2013

Business Day 2013By Tim Pate

I have to confess a secret – I’m not technically a business student. I’m actually a journalism student pursuing a business minor. (Perhaps this isn’t so much a secret; after all, it says so right in my biography.) Though I’m not a true business student in the strictest of terms, I am still immensely excited to attend Business Day 2013 on Wednesday, April 3 in the Lory Student Center Theatre.

This year’s theme is “Defying All Odds,” and the College of Business has enlisted some excellent speakers to motivate students of all backgrounds to conquer their personal obstacles. Whether or not you are a business student, the speakers at Business Day 2013 are sure to present material to which you can relate.

Take, for example, Aron Ralston, who will be presenting the final speech of the day. Ralston is a Colorado outdoorsman and motivational speaker, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and the subject of the movie “127 Hours.” Ralston famously amputated his own arm in order to escape death in the Blue John Canyon of Utah after an 800-pound boulder pinned his arm against a canyon wall. Movie buffs and thrill-seekers alike should enjoy this presentation.

Another adventurer will join Ralston in the lineup of speakers for Business Day 2013 – Luiz Benitez. Benitez has summited Mount Everest six times, including a 2001 expedition with blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer. He also conducts an annual “Leadership and Change Management through Mountaineering” seminar in Ecuador and Chile for the University of Pennsylvania‘s Wharton School of Business, and he will share these incredible experiences with us.

If you want to learn about how business leaders and innovators have tackled problems, I suggest attending speeches by Dave and Gail Liniger, co-founders of RE/MAX; Chris Hutchins, sourcing partner with Google Ventures; and/or Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of The Western Union Company.

The Linigers will discuss Dave’s battle with a septic staph infection that nearly took his life and how Gail managed to support Dave while continuing to lead RE/MAX.

Hutchins, a business graduate of Colorado State University, is the founder of LaidOffCamp, an initiative to help the unemployed learn new skills for the evolving job market in order to face their own challenges, and will discuss these experiences during his presentation.

Ersek will explain in his speech how in less than three years as CEO he was able to help The Western Union Company increase its retail money transfer business to more than 510,000 worldwide agent locations, expand into electronic and mobile channels, add a global cross-border business, and broaden its financial services product line to include stored value cards/e-wallets.

I chose to seek a business minor in addition to my degree in journalism because I knew that business knowledge would benefit me no matter what field I entered after college. I believe that same philosophy applies to Business Day, where I will get the chance to hear inspirational and reputable speakers share their knowledge. We all face challenges, and we all handle them differently. Maybe one of these speakers will say just the right thing to help you – or me – overcome current hindrances.

Below is a full schedule of events for Business Day 2013:

9:00 a.m. – Chris Hutchins, LSC Theatre

10:00 a.m. – Hikmet Ersek, LSC Theatre

11:00 a.m. – Dave and Gail Liniger, LSC Theatre

12:00 p.m. – Luis Benitez, LSC Theatre

2:00 p.m. – Aron Ralston, LSC Theatre

For more information, please visit http://biz.colostate.edu/newsEvents/Pages/eventDetails/businessDay13.aspx.