Has Marketing Automation Started Making Sense?

B2B marketing automation has a long way to go, suggest the results of a recent survey of more than 350 marketing professionals in the United States and Europe. Act-On Software commissioned Econsultancy to conduct the research for its State of B2B Marketing report released last week.

Only 51 percent of respondents said the CMO or equivalent took a keen interest in marketing automation, and just 37 percent said the issue got executive support outside the marketing department.

Among the other key findings:

  • Only 27 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that marketing automation had resulted in increased contributions to the pipeline. Forty-nine percent somewhat disagreed, and 20 percent strongly disagreed.
  • Twenty-four percent of respondents strongly agreed that marketing automation was delivering ROI, while 55 percent somewhat agreed that it was, and 18 percent somewhat disagreed.
  • Twenty-four percent strongly agreed that they were more efficient because of marketing automation. Fifty-eight percent somewhat agreed, and 13 percent somewhat disagreed.
  • Thirty-seven percent agreed they were using marketing automation to its fullest capacity, while 38 percent say they somewhat agreed that they were, and 23 percent somewhat disagreed.

Marketing automation’s low adoption rate is due in part to CMOs in certain industries — such as manufacturing, higher education and financial services — not being familiar with it, suggested Paige Musto, Act-On’s senior director of corporate marketing.

CMOs in such industries “just need to be further educated on the benefits of marketing automation over email service providers,” she told CRM Buyer.

Clobbered by the Pace of Change

Marketing automation “is a rapidly evolving industry,” noted Meg Columbia-Walsh, CEO of Wylei.

“Many businesses and senior level executives are struggling to keep up,” she told CRM Buyer.

“As companies begin to fully utilize what’s available, they are looking for partners like Wylie to guide them through the learning curve,” Columbia-Walsh said.

“It’s crucial for the business to support the CMO and vice versa,” noted Tom Frommack, COO of ePurchasing Network.

Buy-in for marketing automation should come from both the sales and marketing departments, Act-On’s Musto said, because it “directly contributes and impacts the workflow, processes, and outputs of both departments.”

Look Before You Leap

Companies must understand the marketing automation landscape and the vendors, and “truly do their due diligence to ensure the system they bring on is the right fit and purpose-built for their size company,” Musto cautioned.

“The survey found there are only three areas where more than half [of respondents] are using marketing automation,” she noted.

Those areas — email, Web forms and landing pages — are “the more basic functions,” according to Musto, and “can point to a potential misalignment between system, strategy and skillset.”

That could explain why only a few respondents thought marketing automation solutions resulted in increased contributions to the pipeline, delivered ROI, or helped them to work more efficiently.

Another problem is the rapid evolution of the field, suggested ePurchasing Network’s Frommack.

Marketing automation “introduces new and maturing capabilities that are not easy to stay current with,” he told CRM Buyer, or that “have the maturity to demonstrate value.”

There is a lack of “specific measures to link to concrete or abstract business value,” Frommack said.

Strategies for Implementation

Businesses interested in marketing automation should start by leveraging the features most commonly used — such as website visitor tracking, CRM integration, list segmentation and email marketing, recommended Musto.

Then they can add more sophisticated tactics, such as lead scoring, automated programs, dynamic content and progressive profiling.

“You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with everything out of the gate, so start small and build,” Musto counseled.

Companies should ensure these basics are in place before jumping in:

  • Have a strategy and plan;
  • Appoint a project lead;
  • Choose the right platform;
  • Select the right implementation partner; and
  • Build the business case for investment.

They should “also look at how the leaders in the report use marketing automation,” suggested Musto, including “the features they’re leveraging, the value they place, and what they measure.”

Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Consumers Gain More Power to Seek Data Breach Damages

By John K. Higgins
Aug 21, 2017 1:43 PM PT

There are no good outcomes of an electronic data system breach. At best, companies dealing with e-commerce technologies face the formidable task and the resulting cost of repairs.

In addition having to fix information technology systems, companies suffering breaches may be increasingly vulnerable to legal action taken by customers whose personal data was affected. A federal appeals court decision handed down earlier this month underscores the potential legal leverage available to consumers whose electronic records are hacked.

Taken together, the recent decision and similar rulings by other courts “significantly expand the circumstances under which consumers may pursue class actions against companies victimized by hackers who access highly sensitive personal information,” commented Edward McAndrew, a partner at Ballard Spahr.

The case involves the hacking of nearly 1 million customer records maintained by health insurance company CareFirst. The company suffered the attack in July 2014 but only detected the breach in April 2015. The company notified customers in May of 2015. Shortly thereafter, several customers filed a class action suit against CareFirst, attributing the breach to the company’s carelessness, and alleging that customers suffered an increased risk of identity theft as a result of the hack.

Appeal Decision Favors Consumers

CareFirst won the first round. A federal district court dismissed the complaint by ruling that the class action plaintiffs failed to provide adequate support for their claim that the breach caused any substantial harm to customers. The court characterized the assertion of harm as speculative.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia earlier this month reversed the district court’s decision. The customers’ allegation of harm was correct, the appeals court said, because the district court had misread the complaint as to the nature of the data involved in the case, and that the plaintiffs had established that personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI) and “sensitive information” had been hacked.

These categories include Social Security and credit card data, the Chantal Attias v. CareFirst appellate ruling notes.

The appeals court then connected the dots between the type of data involved in the hack and the subsequent potential for identity theft, and determined that the customers had established “plausible” grounds for suffering harm as a result of the breach.

“Nobody doubts that identity theft, should it befall one of these plaintiffs, would constitute a concrete and particularized injury,” appeals court judge Thomas Griffith wrote.

The plaintiffs had established that any harm resulting from the breach would be “fairly traceable” to CareFirst, according to the ruling.

In its submission to the appeals court, CareFirst contended that the customers had failed to show that the “risk of harm is certainly impending or has a substantial risk of occurring.”

CareFirst, through spokesperson Sarah Wolf, declined to comment for this story.

Companies Face Massive Settlements

The impact on e-commerce could be substantial if customers are allowed to file suit against companies that have experienced breaches without sufficiently establishing harm, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The organization supported CareFirst in the appeals court litigation.

If plaintiffs are permitted to pursue cases like the one against CareFirst, “the Chamber’s members will be mired in lawsuits over breaches that have not caused any actual or imminent harm to the plaintiffs — and yet those cases threaten to extract massive settlements from businesses that were victimized by hackers or thieves,” the Chamber of Commerce argued in an amicus brief.

“We have nothing to add here, so we’ll let the brief speak for itself,” spokesperson Lindsay Bembenek told the E-Commerce Times in response to our query about the decision.

Companies experiencing hacks likely will be unhappy with the results of two other recent cases that reinforce consumers’ rights in situations similar to the CareFirst incident.

The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this year ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a suit filed against Horizon Healthcare Services regarding a breach of records, in which the court upheld the assertion of harm. The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a 2015 case decided in favor of the plaintiffs in a suit against Neiman Marcus, citing grounds similar to those in the CareFirst and Horizon cases.

However, in contrast to the CareFirst and Horizon decisions, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals this spring ruled against the plaintiff in Whalen v. Michaels Stores, finding that the plaintiff had failed to establish a concrete injury sufficient to bring a suit related to a breach of private data.

Establishing the element of harm or injury is essential for affected customers to achieve legal “standing” for filing suits.

“Ultimately, whether data breach plaintiffs can survive a motion to dismiss for lack of standing will continue to be a key issue. The split in the circuit courts will heighten the cost of litigation for all and increases the potential risk of liability for companies facing class action suits based on allegations of increased risk of identity theft after a data breach,” wrote Sidley Austin attorneys Edward McNicholas and Grady Nye.

The differences among appeals court decisions in such data breach cases could bring the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I think there is a strong possibility that the Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on how standing doctrine should apply where individuals sue companies that suffer data breaches involving sensitive personal information,” Ballard Spahr’s McAndrews told the E-Commerce Times.

However, the Supreme Court may wait until a variety of associated legal issues play out in lower courts, he said.

In the meantime, commercial companies must be more vigilant than ever — not only regarding technical issues, but also concerning the legal implications associated with data breaches.

Companies Must Up Their Cybersecurity Game

“The D.C. Circuit decision and others like it are likely to lead to an increase in the types and numbers of civil cases filed against organizations that suffer data breaches of personal information. First, and foremost, organizations must develop a track record — provable in a courtroom — of reasonable actions to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access,” McAndrew noted.

Companies need to create and implement a sound cybersecurity program — including appropriate administrative, technical and physical controls and documentation. Then they “must actually follow that program and the policies and procedures that govern it,” he said.

In addition, organizations “must conduct cyberincident response and internal investigations while anticipating litigation,” McAndrew advised.

Litigation invariably involves not only why a breach occurred but also on how an organization responded to the incident.

“Not understanding and managing the legal risk related to a cyberincident during the response and investigation phases is one of the biggest mistakes I see organizations of all types make. Too often, incident response activity remains at the information technology and security or compliance levels of organizations, being conducted by individuals with no expertise or experience in how the developing evidence is likely to be used in litigation that follows,” McAndrew pointed out.

“Bringing the lawyers in later does not work,” he said. “Unless lawyers are helping to lead cyberincident responses, the die of liability will likely be cast well before the incident response process ends.”

John K. Higgins has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2009. His main areas of focus are U.S. government technology issues such as IT contracting, cybersecurity, privacy, cloud technology, big data and e-commerce regulation. As a freelance journalist and career business writer, he has written for numerous publications, including
The Corps Report and Business Week.
Email John.

So, when will your device actually get Android Oreo?

Google officially just took the wraps off of Android Oreo, but there are still some questions left to be answered — most notably, precisely when each device will be getting the latest version of the mobile operating system. Due to Android’s openness and a variety of different factors on the manufacturing side, it’s not an easy question to answer, but we’ll break it down best we can.

First the good news: If your device was enrolled in the Android Beta Program, you’ll be getting your hands on the final version of the software “soon,” according to Google. Exactly what that means remains to be seen, but rest assured that you’ll be one of of the first people outside of Google to take advantage of picture-in-picture, notification dots and the like.

No big surprise, Google handsets will be the first non-beta phones to get the update. The Pixel, Nexus 5X and 6P are at the top of the list, alongside Pixel C tablet and ASUS’s Nexus Player set-top box, which will be receiving the upgrade in spite of being discontinued late last year.

Beyond that, the answer differs greatly from company to company. In most cases, the latest flagship is a no-brainer for an upgrade, and there may even be a handful of devices announced at IFA in a few weeks that will ship with the update out of the box. We’ve reached out to the manufacturers to find out what to expect.

BlackBerry: A spokesperson for TCL/BlackBerry told us, “I can confirm that BlackBerry KEYone will get the upgrade.” No date listed.

HTC: Similarly, a spokesperson confirmed that the U11 will indeed be getting Oreo eventually, though, “We haven’t announced timing yet. More info to come in the future.”

LG: The company is certainly bullish about the new operating system, tweeting out an Oreo/eclipse teaser ahead of the event. Compatibility seems like a no-brainer for the forthcoming V30, along with recent flagships, though the company has yet to confirm

Motorola: Motorola is similarly committed to bringing Oreo to its flagships, but sounds even more cautious with regards to timing. “Once Android O is fully released,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch, “we will begin working on the new code for our devices – as always, we know upgrades are about getting it right and making sure the phone performance remains the best it can be.”

OnePlus: The company has already semi-officially announced that the new OS will arrive on the 3 and 3T this year— presumably the OnePlus 5 will be getting it around then, as well.

Samsung: As always, Samsung does things on its own schedule — though it seems pretty likely that the big flagships, including the S8 and the forthcoming Note 8, will get it. Perhaps we’ll hear more on the latter at this week’s Unpacked event. 

Sony: The company has yet to issue an official statement with regards to when its Xperia line will be getting the upgrade, but the Xperia X, XZ and XA seem like likely first candidates.

We’ll be updating this story as more manufacturers respond to our request.

Android Oreo vs iOS 11: What’s different and what’s the same?

Google just announced Android Oreo and it packs a handful of new features. Some are at the system level and speed up the system and extend the battery life, while others are features that will change the way users interact with their phone.

A lot of these features should be familiar to iPhone and iPad owners. Normally Apple is the one accused of copying Android, but for Android Oreo, Google lifted a handful of features straight from iOS, while a couple of new functions are hitting Android before iOS.


Google cribbed iOS for Android’s new notification scheme. In Android Oreo there will be a little dot in the top-right corner of the app’s icon to represent a notification. This has been a staple in iOS since the first iPhone and third-party Android launchers have long featured the scheme, too.

Google even copied how users interact with the notifications, too. A long press on an icon with a notification badge reveals a pop-up menu that presents the user with several tasks — just like an iOS 3D Touch interaction.

In the end, it’s a win to the user that Google copied this system. These dots have survived numerous iOS revisions for a reason: they work.

New emojis

Both Android Oreo and iOS 11 are getting new emojis because emojis are the future of humanity. And Google completely redesigned their take on emojis for Android Oreo. Gone are the blobs and traditional, round emojis have returned.

Google’s new emojis follow Apple’s move to increase the detail found on the little faces. Yet according to a preview by Apple’s Tim Cook, iOS is about to get emojis that are even more detailed.

This tweet by Apple’s CEO shows emojis with a crazy level of detail. Apple has yet to say when the new characters will hit iOS, but it’s logical to expect them in the general release of iOS 11 and High Sierra.

A smarter copy and paste

Android has supported copy and paste functions from the first release and has often led iOS’s implementation of the user interaction. It’s a critical function, yet the small screen size of phones often means copy and pasting is a clumsy affair. Android Oreo now makes it even easier to copy text and perform an action.

Called Smart Text Selection, when a user highlights, say an address, a link to Maps will be displayed next to the standard actions of copy, cut and paste. If a series of digits that looks like a phone number is highlighted, the phone app will be displayed.

This is sort of like how data detectors work in iOS, but Google’s feature looks to be more comprehensive, and it’s powered by Google’s AI for smarter identification.


Apple added picture-in-picture to the iPad in iOS 9 and Android is now gaining the capability, too. But with Android Oreo, phones can get in on the PiP action, too, which is something missing from the iPhone.

Android Oreo’s PiP mode works as expected. It allows users to minimize a video and let it float on top of the screen while other tasks are performed behind it. This video window can be moved around the screen to best position it.

Right now iOS limits this process to the iPad, though that could change in the future.


Android Oreo finally brings the ability to have apps auto-fill user information like user names, passwords and addresses. Password manager apps have long performed some of these functions, but through convoluted means. Apps can now implement the Autofill API so the interaction should be much more seamless.

iOS kind of has a similar function, but it’s mostly reserved for a few apps, like Amazon’s, and it’s not nearly as omnipresent as it is in Safari on the web.

Meet Android Oreo’s all-new emoji

The newest version of Android (Oreo, officially) doesn’t bring a ton of new stuff to the mobile operating system, but it does overhaul something near and dear to most smartphone user’s hearts: Emoji. Google has done away with its “blob” style smileys in favor of more traditional-looking (I guess?) smileys, and emoji that in general look more recognizable when compared with their equivalents on other platforms, including iOS.

Google announced its emoji redesign back at I/O, its annual developer conference, so we’ve had time to grieve the blobs, but it’s still going to hurt for some fans of the offbeat Google pictographs. Google also seems to have good intentions for the redesign — it wants to both unify the style for a library that has grown immensely since its inception and Better represent diversity and inclusivity among its emoji set.

One of its stated goals with this huge overhaul was also to improve communication across platforms. Strange as it might seem to old-school phone users who remember when people used to communicate using voice and text, emoji are actually used often to convey real meaning. Google says it wanted to help avoid miscommunication by helping to make sure emoji are as consistent as possible when used across platforms: Those blobs often seemed to mean very different things from their iOS equivalents.

Android O also includes 69 new emoji, as included in the Unicode 10 emoji set. These are focused on better representation of people and gender, as well as some fun fantasy and sci-fi characters and the likely very popular exploding head emoji.

The samples of emoji above are just a small taste of the complete redesign introduced in Android O, which include more than 2,000 characters in total. If you want a full sampling, go ahead and check out Emojipedia for the whole enchilada, which is something there is no emoji for (yet).

What’s new in Android Oreo

Google officially launched Android Oreo. today. To be honest, it’s probably one of the least exciting operating system releases in recent memory. While the team did plenty of work on the backend, Android Oreo only includes a few noteworthy user interface updates. The highlight of this release is probably the new Notification Dots — and that sums things up pretty well.

Android O is officially called Android Oreo

The latest version of Android is officially here, and it’s called Android Oreo, as most people suspected. Google made the interesting decision to reveal the final name and consumer launch details of Android 8.0 coincidentally with the arrival of the solar eclipse over NYC, which is where it held its launch live stream today.

Google has traditionally used sweet treats for the names of its major Android releases, dating back to Android 1.5, aka “Cupcake.” KitKat (4.4) was the last branded release, with Google typically sticking to generic dessert names wherever possible. Oreo is pretty much the only choice for an “O” dessert that’s broadly and instantly recognizable, however, so it seems like it was almost inevitable.

Here’s what Oreo contains: The foundational cookie sandwich pieces are likely the boot speed and memory improvements Google made by changing the way the operating system works at a basic level to boost Pixel smartphone start times by up to 100 percent, and to improve the efficiency of use of system resources among apps and background tasks.

For the creamy filling, we have picture-in-picture, which allows you to run video apps on top of other tasks, on both phones and tablets. There’s also now Android Instant Apps, which provide access to apps instantly without requiring a download for limited interactivity; notification dots, which tell you when there’s activity within a specific app with a dot in the corner; and autofill for apps, which is like the feature on the web but for individual Android applications.

Android O also ships with more security features, including remote location, locking and wiping with Find My Device, and Google Play Protect, which scans for, detects and automatically deletes malicious apps on a daily basis.

Finally, Google has completely overhauled their emoji set, which is a big change for the primary language of millennial users everywhere.

Android O is rolling out to Pixel and Nexus 5X/6P devices soon, Google says, and anyone on the preview will be updated to the final version, as well. Pixel C and Nexus Player are next up for official updates, too, with other devices to follow shortly.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin

Markforged announces two 3D printers that produce items as strong as steel

Markforged, a 3D printer manufacturer based in Boston, has just announced two new models – the X3 and the X5. Both of these printers are designed to create carbon-fiber infused objects using a standard filament printing system and both can produce items that can replace or are stronger than steel objects.

Both printers have auto-leveling and scanning systems to ensure each printed object is exactly like every other. Further, the printers use Markforged’s special thermoplastic fiber filament while the X5 can add a “strand of continuous fiberglass” to create objects “19X stronger and 10X stiffer than traditional plastics.” This means you can print both usable parts and usable tools using the same machine and thanks to the fiberglass weave you can ensure that the piece won’t snap on use. For example, one customer printed a custom valve wrench in ten minutes using one of these printers.

Now for the bad news. The X3 costs a mere $36,990 while the X5 costs $49,900. These are aimed at what Markforged calls “local manufacturers.” Luckily you’re not stuck with the printer if you outgrow it. The X3 can easily be upgraded to work with X5’s filament and both are aimed at manufacturing shops that need to product finished products on the fly.

“Customers can now, with ease, print same-day parts that optimize strength and affordability for their specific needs,” said CEO Greg Mark.

These printers are part of Markforged’s effort at creating a real “teleporter.” Thanks to the complex scanning and measurement systems built into these units, users can receive a 3D printer model and print it to exacting specifications. The system also has a failsafe mode that restart at any time as the laser scanner can check to see exactly where the print stopped. The company is also hard at work at some impressive metal printing technologies that turn out parts that are usable in complex machines.

New drone perches on walls like a robotic bird

The Multimodal Autonomous Drone (S-MAD) is a fixed-wing drone that has a few bird-like tricks up its sleeve. You can, for example, fly it like a glider through a room or open space, but when it approaches a flat surface the drone quickly changes configuration and lands flat with its little spiky teeth digging in to keep it from falling. In short, this is one of the scariest robotic behaviors I’ve seen since Big Dog galumphed its way into our nightmares.

The S-MAD uses something called microspines to attach itself to rough surfaces. The spines are essentially hardened steel spikes that grip small bumps in a surface from two directions — “the opposed-grip strategy for microspines is just like a human hand grasping a bottle of water, except that while humans require some macroscopic curvature to get our fingers around both sides of an object, the microspines can go deep into the micro-features of a rough surface and latch on those tiny bumps and pits,” said researcher Hao Jiang of Stanford. These spines are already being used on multi-rotor drones, but this is the first time they’ve been used on a fixed-wing device. The plane now lands on surfaces 100 percent of the time, an impressive feat for such a drone.

With these microspines, the plane can flatten itself against a wall and perch there, gathering data and scanning the environment. When it’s ready to move on, it releases the spines and flies off into the wild blue. Researchers Dino Mehanovic, John Bass, Thomas Courteau, David Rancourt and Alexis Lussier Desbiens from the University of Sherbrooke decided to connect these spines with a fixed-wing drone and had to create a new way to essentially stop the plane in mid-air — something birds are quite adept at — and settle on a surface. The system switches from plane to helicopter in a split second, allowing it to flatten against the wall instantly. From Spectrum:

There are several tricks to this. The first trick is the pitch-up maneuver, which turns the fixed-wing airplane into a temporary helicopter of sorts, relying entirely on the propellor for lift generation (the thrust to weight ratio is 1.5) while the wings provide enough of a control surface to cancel out the torque. At that point, the UAV can approach the wall as slowly as you like (using a laser rangefinder for wall detection), which leads to the second trick: maximizing the “zone of suitable touchdown conditions,” or making sure that the approach is slow enough and steady enough that you can perch reliably with little hardware (sensing and otherwise). And the third trick is having a perching system, legs and microspines in this case, that are flexible enough to achieve a robust perch even if the aircraft isn’t doing exactly what you’d like it to be doing.

This is obviously a proof of concept, but it could be used in situations where long-distance glides terminate in a permanent perch at some high point for data collection. After the data is collected, the plane can essentially fall off the surface and fly back by righting itself, climbing to altitude and gliding home.

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As Android O debuts, Marshmallow still commands about a third of devices

The arrival of a new Android version isn’t nearly as rare as a total solar eclipse, but Google’s hoping the solar system will share the spotlight as it takes the wraps off of its latest mobile operating system. Among other things, Android O will likely be getting an official release date and alphabetic dessert name, with “Oreo” looking like the top contender.

So, how does the current Android landscape shake out? Fragmentation will almost certainly continue to be a concern for the Android ecosystem. That’s just the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with an open operating system and countless different manufacturers, each with their own Google partnerships, customizations, and security focuses. But things actually seem to be heading in the right direction since the last time we checked in.

Back in November, we noted that Gingerbread, Android’s 2011 version, had a wider distribution than Nougat, the latest version, released earlier in the year. But Nougat’s made up a decent amount of ground since then. According to numbers collected by the Android Developers Dashboard earlier this month, the two versions of the operating system (7.0 and 7.1) make up about 13.5-percent of the market, with 7.0 comprising the vast majority. That’s up from around 0.3-percent of the total market.

Marshmallow (6.0), meanwhile, has leapfrogged Lollipop (5.0/5.1), to make up just under a third of the market, at 32.3-percent, to its predecessor’s 29.2. Keep in mind, Marshmallow is a two-year-old operating system, so it’s not exactly bleeding edge, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

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We’ve already seen a fair number of O(reo)’s features, courtesy of a beta release, and honestly, it’s not the most exciting Android update — a fact that could mean people aren’t going to be rushing to upgrade. There are still some important questions that will hopefully get answered today, however, including which devices will be the first in line to be upgraded.

With IFA coming up in a few weeks, we may also soon see the first devices to ship with the new Android out of the box.