Iain Smith is founder of IT human resources consultancy Diaz Research, which specialises in IT research and data, and its clients include such blue-chips as Abbey National, AstraZeneca, Bank of England and Bank of Ireland. As a research company, it relies on the internet for up-to-date news and to get market intelligence.
What are your top research sites?
For IT sector news, it is hard to beat silicon.com, but I also like the US site, cio.com. Both these sites have tech-nology and technology management content, but are also quite good at focusing on the people issues and effective leadership. HR sites in general do not carry many stories relating to IT or high-tech HR issues. Company websites are great - you can check their news releases and annual reports.
What are your top three tips for researching on the internet?
Spend time really understanding the search engine you're using. Google, for example, has loads of brilliant features. Set aside time to explore Google (or your favourite search engine) properly and I guarantee that investment will repay you many times over. My next tip is to take everything you get from the internet with a pinch of salt. No one guarantees its quality. And if you come across a news item - do check the date the story was filed. One of the dangers of using the internet is the temptation to just surf. Force yourself to stay focused on the task at hand.
Where research has paid off?
Diaz Research produces an IT HR newsletter that tells people what's happening on a monthly basis. Although much of that is based on our own direct research and contacts, we could certainly not produce the newsletter without regular trawls of around a dozen sites in the UK, US and France. Secondly, we would find it very difficult to operate without being able to research company news on the internet. There is such a wave of consolidation taking place that it is very foolish to visit any company these days without having researched them, and the way to do that is via the internet.