Agile Marketing & The Wheel of Death
Secure collaboration

This morning I was a panelist in a conversation hosted by Mike Dunham from Scio Consulting where we discussed Agile Marketing in SaaS.  The other panelists were Peter Cohen and Justin Pirie, both who have a lot of experience in SaaS marketing.  It was a great conversation where we discussed how marketing in a SaaS world needs to be as agile as software development.  You need to think differently about your products and customers.  Today everyone wants an application to be easy to use with little to no training.  If a customer can’t get value out of a SaaS application quickly, you as a provider have failed.
There was a great discussion about SaaS driving communities of users to help each other.  If you can build social tools into your product to help customers engage with each other and with the provider, you hit a home run.  If the users and other companies create an ecosystem around your product, that drives your cost of customer acquisition down.  Customers will sell your products for you by word of mouth.  Think about iTunes, or FreshBooks.  Passionate users are your best sales people.

We Need a Cloud Security Standard
Data security

In a recent blog post on security in the cloudAttorney Seaton Daly discusses different approaches that Microsoft and Google are using to gain some security credence in their cloud offerings.  As more data breaches continue to make headlines, cloud providers want to ensure customers that their services are secure.  Microsoft is looking for legitimacy in the US Federal government and is pursuing the ISO 27001 information security standard.  Google is pursuing the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) standards for much the same reason; Microsoft is also pursuing FISMA.  There is no agreed upon standard for cloud security, but the ISO 27001 standard remains one of the best security benchmarks available.  
Pursuing an ISO certification makes more sense than a US-only standard, since they are widely recognized and accepted internationally.  If Google and others want to give their customers a sense of security about their data, this seems logical.  As with all technology, the products come before the standards.  Companies like to be first out of the gate so they can claim they do it better than their competitors and so they can influence the coming standards.  Hopefully a cloud security certification is coming soon.

The SaaS Security Conundrum
Secure collaboration

As SaaS and Cloud Computing mature, a lot of the discussions on cost have turned to concerns oversecurity.  Many people believe that implementing SaaS can save money and free up IT staff for more business critical tasks.  Now security is the biggest concern about moving to SaaS.   
1. Is my data is safe? 

2. Will a hacker get to my information? 

3. What if my service provider goes down?

Who do you Trust?
Data breach

Insider threats continue to represent a major concern for all size organizations. 

I recently met with a company that was responding to a major RFP.  The company uses a Content Management System and has developed strict procedures to ensure the confidentiality of their files.  Unfortunately, one of the staff members that worked on the RFP had an acquaintance who worked for the competition. The employee saved the file to a thumb drive and emailed it to his friend at the competition. That person used the information to under bid the other company and ultimately won the business. Eventually, the theft was uncovered, the individuals involved were fired and the RFP was cancelled. There is no way to determine the cost of litigation, but it is safe to assume that legal costs and fines will exceed a $1 million.

Stealing Files with a Pringles Can
Data breach

data breach with a ringles canMost of us use wireless networks at home and when we travel.  The other day I was sitting in an airport waiting on my late flight (that of course never happens), and I fired up my laptop to get at a few emails over the local Wi-Fi hotspot.  I was responding to a few items and sent a couple of spreadsheets and documents.

I sent a proposal to a colleague for input before sending it to a customer.  The document had pricing and other confidential information in it.  Since I was on an open wireless network, a hacker with a Pringles can as an antenna could steal my file.  Talk about scary.  If I log into my company through a VPN that encrypts my traffic, I should be safe.  I was using GMail, so I may be compromised.

‘Tis the Season
Data security Secure collaboration

Think About Your Customer’s Document Security

Now that it’s October, fall is in the air (at least in the northeast US) and the leaves are dropping onto the lawns.  It’s time for change and time to think about getting ready for the coming winter.

It’s also a good time to think about changes and planning in your business.  Here are a few suggestions:

Call Your Customers
When is the last time you spoke to your customers?  If you do it regularly, great.  If you haven’t talked to them in awhile, give them a call.  Thank them for their business and see if they need any help.  Communicating through email, newsletters, Twitter and Facebook are all good things, but sometimes you need to talk to someone.

Loose lips sink ships
Data breach

The familiar line from World War II is as relevant today as it was 65 years ago. The release of confidential information can have a devastating impact on an organization. In the normal course of doing business critical information will leak out into the wild. This may occur intentionally or unintentionally, but either way it is critical to know that a breach occurred at the earliest possible moment. Data Loss Detection enables companies to routinely perform customized profile searches that detect specific information on internet sites. The search crawler detects confidential data, files, posts and discussions that should not be in the public domain.

Let’s Just Call It A Service
Secure collaboration

The world of ____ (fill in the blank) as a Service is exploding. Especially the acronyms.  Here are just a few:

And how about Software + Services?  Last week I had a plumber come to my house to replace a corroded valve in my basement.  I could say I bought Plumbing as a Service (another PaaS).  When I pay my electric bill, I buy Electricity as a Service.  And when I pay my cable and internet bill, maybe I am buying Fun as a Service.