New channels of electronic communication have been a boon to many industries, opening up sales and marketing opportunities, helping improve customer service and speeding up innovation and collaboration. For Wall Street, however, the benefits of technology such as Twitter have to be weighed against the compliance pains.
Twitter, launched by San Francisco-based Obvious in late 2006 before being spun off, is a cross between an online discussion board and instant messaging system, allowing people to post short updates-capped at 140 characters-on their activities. Users can subscribe to each other's updates, or tweets, and have them sent to their Twitter screens. Some Twitter posters develop armies of followers.