All posts in “Business”

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.

The race toward autonomous cars heats up as Fiat joins Intel, Mobileye, and BMW

Why it matters to you

Back in 2016, Intel, Mobileye, and BMW formed a consortium to develop self-driving technology. Now, Fiat has joined that consortium.

Fresh off Intel’s completed acquisition of Mobileye, the race toward a self-driving future has accelerated once again. On Wednesday, August 16, Fiat Chrysler announced that it would be joining these two companies and BMW in order to help develop autonomous vehicles. As more and more carmakers recognize the importance of driverless technology as a prerequisite for staying relevant in the digital future, FCA’s move certainly seems like the strategic choice.

“In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers, and suppliers,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne noted in a news release. “Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective.”

Indeed, FCA doesn’t necessarily possess the capital needed to embark upon a self-driving journey on its own, so joining the BMW, Intel, and Mobileye consortium helps. When BMW and Intel created their partnership in 2016 alongside Mobileye, they noted that they were open to having new members join in order to accelerate the development of the technology as well as its implementation.

As James Hodgson, senior analyst at ABI Research, told Digital Trends, “This is a good move for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and much needed to help reduce its severe innovation deficit in autonomous vehicles, with the brand having very little to show to date compared to direct, mass-market competitors such as Ford and GM.”

As it stands, the BMW-Intel partnership claims to be on track to deliver 40 self-driving test cars by the end of 2017. And given that McKinsey believes that the autonomous car sector could be worth $2 trillion by 2030, conducting these tests sooner rather than later certainly seems to be a goal among all concerned.

“For the BMW/Intel/Mobileye consortium, the addition of another OEM (original equipment manufacturer) helps to build the critical mass around their initiatives, particularly with FCA being a volume player,” Hodgson told us.

So look out, friends. You could soon be seeing a whole host of self-driving cars from different companies, with Fiat Chrysler standing at the top of that list.

8th Gen Intel Core goes to work in HP’s milspec tested Probook 400 series

Why it matters to you

HP’s Probook 400 combines 8th gen Intel Core processors with durable design and screen sizes up to 17 inches.

Intel announced it’s 8th generation processors today on its Facebook page and official newsroom, and it surprised some industry watchers by focusing on notebook “Kaby Lake+” CPUs rather than the “Coffee Lake” desktop CPUs that many expected. The newest members of Intel’s lineup are quad-core, multi-threaded variants that are best-suited for high-performance laptops, and HP is piggybacking on Intel’s statement with its own announcement if its new HP ProBook 400 G5 series

This marks the fifth generation of the ProBook 400 business-class machines, and HP has announced three new versions, the ProBook 430 G5, ProBook 450 G5, and ProBook 470 G5. In addition to a building a thinner design with new Natural Silver stamped aluminum chassis, HP is also touting the machine’s status as the first to ship with the new CAT-9 modem for faster WWAN speeds, and support the HP Elite USB dock.

The core specifications for each machine are similar, offering a range of CPU options from Celeron 3865U (on the 430 G5 and 45o G5) up to 8th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs. The 15.6-inch HP ProBook 450 G5 and 17.3-inch HP ProBook 470 G5 offer optional Nvidia GeForce 930MX graphics with 2GB of GDDR3 memory, and all models come standard with Intel HD integrated graphics. Memory is listed at 32GB DDR4-2400 DRAM, and a wide range of storage options are available including hard disk drives (HDDs), and solid-state drives (SSDs). Battery capacity on each model is 48 watt-hours, and support for HP fast charge technology means they can be charged to 90 percent in 90 minutes.

LIke previous ProBook models, the new machines have been tested to MIL-STD 810G standards, and they offer easy serviceability for upgrading and managing a fleet of systems. The HP Elite USB dock uses the ProBooks’ new USB Type-C connection to enable support of dual monitors, and to access an additional RJ-45 wired Ethernet connection. The dock also provides enhanced connectivity with up to five USB Type-A ports.

Here are the specifications for each new HP ProBook 400 G5 model.

HP ProBook 430 G5

Specifications

Display Size: 13.3 inches
Display Type: HD touch, anti-glare Full HD, HD anti-glare
Display Resolution: HD (1,366 x 768), Full HD (1,920 x 1,080)
Processor: Intel Celeron 3865U
Intel Core i3-6006U
Intel Core i3-7100U
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8550U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
Intel HD Graphics 620
Memory: 32GB DDR4-2400
Storage: 1TB SATA 5400 RPM HDD
500GB SATA 7200 RPM HDD
500GB SATA 5400 hybrid HDD
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
256GB M.S PCIe NVMe SSD
128GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD
Expansion Slots SDXC Card Reader
Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Realtek Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0 USB Type-A
1 x HDMI 1.4b
1 x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
1 x audio headphone jack
Battery: 48 watt-hour lithium-ion
Inputs: HP Premium Keyboard, spill-resistant with optional backlighting
Clickpad with image sensor, multi-touch gesture support
Dimensions: 12.8 in x 9.21 in x 0.78 in (non-touch)
12.83 in x 9.21 in x 0.84 in (touch)
Weight: 3.28 pounds
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Price: Starting at $620

HP ProBook 450 G5

Specifications

Display Size: 15.6 inches
Display Type: HD touch, anti-glare Full HD, HD anti-glare
Display Resolution: HD (1,366 x 768), Full HD (1,920 x 1,080)
Processor: Intel Celeron 3865U
Intel Core i3-6006U
Intel Core i3-7100U
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8550U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
Intel HD Graphics 620
Nvidia GeForce 930MX 2GB GDDR3
Memory: 32GB DDR4-2400
Storage: 1TB SATA 5400 RPM HDD
500GB SATA 7200 RPM HDD
500GB SATA 5400 hybrid HDD
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
256GB M.S PCIe NVMe SSD
128GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD
Expansion Slots SDXC Card Reader
Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Realtek Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0 USB Type-A
1 x HDMI 1.4b
1 x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
1 x audio headphone jack
Battery: 48 watt-hour lithium-ion
Inputs: HP Premium Keyboard, spill-resistant with optional backlighting
Clickpad with image sensor, multi-touch gesture support
Dimensions: 14.8 in x 10.4 in x 0.82 in (non-touch)
14.8 in x 10.4 in x 0.9 in (touch)
Weight: 4.64 pounds
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Price: Starting at $620

HP ProBook 470 G5

Specifications

Display Size: 17.3 inches
Display Type: Anti-glare Full HD, anti-glare HD+
Display Resolution: HD+ (1,600 x 900), Full HD (1,920 x 1,080)
Processor: Intel Core i3-7100U
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8550U
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
Optional discrete Nvidia graphics (unspecified)
Memory: 32GB DDR4-2400
Storage: 1TB SATA 5400 RPM HDD
500GB SATA 7200 RPM HDD
500GB SATA 5400 hybrid HDD
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
256GB M.S PCIe NVMe SSD
128GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD
Expansion Slots SDXC Card Reader
Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Realtek Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2
Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0 USB Type-A
1 x HDMI 1.4b
1 x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
1 x audio headphone jack
Battery: 48 watt-hour lithium-ion
Inputs: HP Premium Keyboard, spill-resistant with optional backlighting
Clickpad with image sensor, multi-touch gesture support
Dimensions: 16.29 in x 10.87 in x 0.89 in
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Price: Starting at $620

Pricing for the HP ProBook 400 G5 series starts at $620, and the machines will be available for purchase starting in September 2017. HP provides three-year warranties on the ProBook line in some countries, so check your local listing for more information.

Jeff Immelt could be Uber’s new CEO, and he has his work cut out for him

Why it matters to you

After months without a leader, Uber is eager for someone new to take the reins. And it could be Jeff Immelt.

After a tumultuous several months, complete with resignations, lawsuits, and plenty of bad blood, it looks like Uber is finally gaining new leadership. As first reported by Recode, it would appear that the former chairman of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, has emerged as the top candidate to take on the reins at Uber. According to sources, the majority of Uber’s board has decided to back the experienced executive.

While there are apparently two other contenders still in consideration, a final decision is fast approaching. Uber’s directors are expected to vote on a new CEO within the next two weeks, and whichever candidate wins the majority will certainly have his work cut out for him. Although the hope is that the final vote will be unanimous, it doesn’t necessarily have to be (nor is it guaranteed to be).

“We know it is never going to be a perfect choice, but everyone is becoming exhausted,” one person close to the situation said, as per Recode. “We need someone with the skills to move us along.”

And based on his resume, it certainly appears that Immelt has those skills. As another source told Recode, “[Immelt] certainly is not someone anyone can push around easily, which is probably his best characteristic. We all know Immelt’s not the dynamic entrepreneur that Travis is, but he can certainly settle things down.”

Even so, there’s quite a bit to be done at the beleaguered ride sharing giant. Competitors in both the U.S. and abroad seem to have made up ground in the wake of the leadership fiasco that has hijacked headlines for most of 2017. Uber faces more challengers than ever in international markets, and even at home, Lyft is proving that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Moreover, Uber has plenty of lawsuits from disgruntled drivers to face, as well as some from disabled persons’ advocates. And while the company has a seemingly astronomical valuation, it’s still losing about a billion dollars a year.

So whether Uber’s next CEO is Jeff Immelt or someone else entirely, it would be nice to see the company make some improvements from within.