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Marketing Automation – and the impact of WannaCry May 23, 2017

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Cyber Security, Management, Marketing Automation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Network Security.
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Simon the Hacker

As both an enabler and recipient of marketing automation activities, I’ve been very aware of the impact of recent cyber security events on email marketing, on both sides of the fence.

Being an avid photographer, angler and technologist, I belong to many groups and am the recipient of many marketing campaigns, many of them generated by marketing automation systems.

In my professional role of implementing Microsoft CRM and marketing systems I also see the world through the eyes of the marketers, help and assist with implementing the platform, and work closely with the related CRM data used in these campaigns.

Then all of a sudden along comes the big bad wolf. “WannaCry” malware has had an impact on the whole spectrum of e-mail based marketing automation activities. And again I find myself looking at this from both sides of the fence. There is a little bit of mistrust, often overdramatized by the press, but there is certainly a risk out there.

I open e-mails on my phone, my tablet, my work PC and my home computer, and probably like most people I skim the marketing material that I receive unless I have a particular interest and want to drill down – there is just too much content to read it all. But we are now cautioned to not open unknown e-mails or click on links we don’t recognize. Very good advice, but one can slip very easily, and the hackers often front the e-mails with names we know and trust.

These hackers make it more difficult for marketers to get information to me, as I might just be over cautious and ignore them, or even worse hit the spam button (when it is not spam) and then I stop receiving these e-mails.

From the other side of the fence, my customers are not happy, as their outbound campaigns can be hamstrung by a large event. I would imagine that any campaign distributed at the same time as this last worldwide malware attack would be severely impacted, which will have a direct impact as the returns of these campaigns may not be as high as expected.

Marketing automation, especially e-mail marketing using a nurture program to send out content or links based on background activities, or relating to data and customer interaction, may need to cater for “pausing” the program or branch activity should there be another world event. Email isn’t the only channel. CRM systems can produce mail merged documents that can be personalised, printed, folded, inserted into envelopes and posted.

Protecting your customer data and lists so that unscrupulous hackers do not gain access and use your lists to spam your customers should be a priority. And yet again as I sit on my personal side of the fence, I don’t want my monthly camera newsletter to stop, I want updates from my fishing club, and am happy to click on the links that they provide.

My original blog was going to be about deep predictive analytics in relation to marketing automation, and then this recent malware story broke. I’ll return to predictive analytics next time, and in the short term I’m expecting that the good guys will start to outsmart the faceless hackers in masks so we can all get back to normal.




The Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things IOT November 3, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in IOT, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Network Security.
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At the advent of the industrial revolution some very clever people started harnessing steam and electricity in the design of machines and industrial equipment that was to revolutionise the way that the world worked. We have not looked back and I would say that progress has continued unabated since these early days of steam.

When looked at today, some of these machines are truly amazing and of real inspirational design. As the industrial revolution picked up pace, innovations flowed across almost every facet of business life from looms for cloth making to printing presses and everything in between. Automation was delivered at a staggering pace.

There was one little problem however, the whole concept as we know it today of “health and safety” was not on the table, and many of these machines were capable of ripping your arm off if you got too close or made a simple mistake.

There is no doubt that very few of the machines from this era would be allowed to function today without some serious modifications.

I see a little parallel with the innovative developments in the area that is now termed “The Internet of things”, the “IOT”. The inspirational designers of today are creating the capability to connect and link things and systems together with spectacular results. My simple question for all of those connecting the accounting system to the toaster, have you taken into consideration security? Especially network security? I somehow suspect that the “No” answer will be forthcoming more often than not.

I work with and network together with a whole range of incredibly smart people, who I am sure if they had lived 175 years ago, would have spent their time inventing and designing sophisticated machines and automating the world. Their skill set is innovation and they are very very good at it, and for some of these folk security is a boring inconvenience as would have health and safety concerns in the 1800’s been to the innovators of the day.

The multiplier effect you need for security when you link two networks together is one thing, linking a whole menagerie of devices, networks, and systems together can become highly complex and requires the attention of network, device and system security specialists.

Think for just a moment about your new Smart TV, it is Internet ready and browser friendly, but has no real security, I appreciate that there is no hard drive (yet) on most, however once someone is on your network, or once you access a web page that has malicious intent, you are slightly exposed. This website spells it out in great detail. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/smart-tvs-are-a-growing-security-risk-how-do-you-deal-with-this/ and remember this is just your TV.

I embrace the IOT fully, I think we are on a similar innovative path that our forefathers took and we are all going to be very surprised where this ends up in a few years. I do however think that I would check with my systems security specialists before I connect the CRM system to my electric blanket.

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