Criminals are gaining big bucks online, according to a new report from Symantec, the computer security firm. However, the publication of this study is an interesting look at how a big business uses the Internet – and clearly fails to understand how people behave online.

The report is to be published “on Monday” according to various news stories. The first of those stories appears to have been released by the Associated Press at just after Midnight US Eastern Time and started appearing in various news and magazine web sites shortly afterwards, such as Forbes Magazine. The story appeared quickly afterwards in the Brisbane Times, across the other side of the planet and well into Monday afternoon.

Yet, go across to the news and media section of Symantec’s own web site and you won’t find a mention. Notice that the most recent news release, from September 13th, is not about this crime survey. Equally, their “in the news” sections shows that the most recent news item about Symantec was published on 1st September. Yet looking at Google News you can see that there have been 306 stories on the company in worldwide news media since that date.

What this suggests is that Symantec doesn’t seem to understand how people use the Internet. People reading the news stories on this new crime report will go to Symantec’s web site to find out more. Yet they won’t be able to. Equally, the fact that within seconds you could add a news feed to your web site showing the most recent news coverage of Symantec, yet they appear unable or unwilling to do this themselves, suggests they don’t understand their web site readers well enough.

Symantec is based in California, so to them it was not Monday when the bulk of the news stories were published. But the fact is, by the time the people of Symantec get into their office and “publish” their report, the readers of the Brisbane Times will be going to bed ready for Tuesday.

Symantec, on this evidence, doesn’t seem to have realised it lives in a 24 hour world, or a global one. The people of Brisbane will have given up trying to find more in depth information from Symantec on this crime report. Even if Symantec adds it to their web site, it will be many hours after the world outside California will have been looking for it. The rest of the world will have moved on.

Like Symantec, your online business exists in a global, 24 hour world. Your web site, your information, your systems must be 24 hour. Otherwise people lose interest. Online, people need much more instant gratification of their information needs. If you can’t provide the material they want at the time they want it, they will go away. Even if you are asleep, your web site needs to be working – and that means doing much more than just “being there” when things are happening relevant to your business.

For example, if your business is in selling cars and some interesting car news is published, your web site not only needs to have that news on it, you need to respond; not later, but straight away. People expect web sites to be up to date. A few years ago that meant “this year” – nowadays it means “this minute”. The way people behave online now means a wholesale change in the way businesses operate their web site. Symantec clearly needs to change – but so do most businesses.

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