by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes
Covid, remote teams, layoffs, diversity and inclusion, trade wars, and now security risk? There is so much on the plate of CMO’s already, and now they need to focus on cyber risk. Yes, according to Patrick Kehoe, Chief Marketing Officer at Coalfire, a cyber risk assessment firm.
“The FBI says cybercrime reports quadrupled during COVID-19 pandemic; other reports and our experience reflects the same. In short, security isn’t an IT problem, it’s a business problem—and it’s one that marketing needs to pay attention to, given the amount of technology it now controls.”
What specifically should the heads of marketing be concerned with? Well, start with remote teams accessing customer databases, content management systems and those “off the IT radar” landing pages, microsites and websites. According to Kehoe, “it’s time to come clean with the IT department. If you haven’t already been breached, it is likely just a matter of when, not if, so you have to stay proactive.”
A recent RSA CMO study showed that 20% of security incidents can be linked back to marketing activities. What can you do to be prepared? “The number one thing marketers can do is get a seat at the table. Use the IT organization to assess vendors and make it clear to them that security is paramount. Ensure an incident response plan is in place and be a part of the cyber security strategy,” according to Kehoe.
A good cyber security policy can also have an upside. Use it in your marketing material. Ensuring customers, especially at this time, that you have a solid understanding of the risk, and have plans in place to address them is essential. Don’t be shy about listing your certifications and/or seals on your website.
Security and risk assessments are now table stakes, according to Kehoe. “If you want to make it into the consideration set, you have to demonstrate that you have a clear and proactive approach to addressing security issues. But don’t overstate it, if your cyber security solution only blocks 99% of attacks, don’t say it blocks all attacks.”
Finally, being honest about your success rate and the capabilities of your solution is the best way to build long-term relationships and drive more positive customer referrals over time. But first, you have to have that honest but difficult conversation with the IT department about those things they may not know about. Good luck, and stay safe!
To hear Scott’s entire conversation with Patrick Kehoe, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Coalfire Systems Inc. about “What CMO’s Need To Know About Cyber Security”, listen or download here:
In the 90’s casual Fridays brought about the slow death of formal business attire in the office place. In the new millennium, mobile devices effectively eliminated the “9 to 5” workday and erased the line between personal and professional. Now, the “Gig Economy” is about to kill the concept of a company employee.
The freelance workforce is growing three times faster than the U.S workforce. At this rate, according to a recent survey by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, independent workers will be the majority by 2027. Yes, more people will work for themselves than for corporations, and they will be doing it because the want to…not because they have to.
The work is not what you would think of as typical “gig economy” jobs, e.g. an Uber driver. According to the FIA survey of close to 6,000 adults, this group is preparing for the future more swiftly than traditional employees. Nearly half of the freelancers surveyed told researchers that their work is being impacted by AI and robotics (only 18% of the traditional workforce). As a result, 65% are staying on top of the latest trends and are putting time aside to learn new skills, compared to 45% of traditional corporate employees.
As a result, this specialized workforce is finding independence because it is developing high demand, hard to find skill sets, creating an opportunity for them to offer their time to the highest bidder. Rather than work on projects dictated by an organization for a set salary, they can choose to work on various projects based on their interest for multiple companies. Selecting projects that advance or refine their skill sets. Deepening their experience that increases market value. This practice, commonly seen among IT workers, is now making its way into other areas like marketing and HR because of the increased use of digital tools and platforms.
It’s not only employees who are driving this trend. Employers see this as an opportunity to optimize their staff cost. The “Open Talent Economy” described by Deloitte is expected to grow significantly in the next 3-5 years. According to their research “off-balance” sheet employees will grow 66 percent over that time period. While only 6% of the C-Suite rated this trend a priority in 2017, 26% believe it will be important in the next 3-5 year, an increase of 400 percent, one of the largest increases seen in their annual Global Human Capital Trends report.
Sitting between, and enabling these trends are digital platforms like Upwork, BTG and Carbon Design which are enabling this transition. In the recent McKinsey Global Institute report, A labor market that works: Connecting talent with opportunity in the digital age, McKinsey states that these platforms could boost global GDP by $2.7 trillion by optimizing the match between work and employees, and by pulling 47 million inactive people (globally) into the workforce. As the US reaches full employment these “inactive workers” will be a critical source of labor capacity.
Unemployment fell to a 20 year low in Q4 of 2017, now standing at 4.1. A tight labor market will increase competition and opportunity for employees with specialized “in demand” skill sets. Talent now has leverage; however certain items may slow this revolution in the workplace.
Healthcare coverage is the primary one, retooling and training of inactive workers being the other. Look for these talent platforms and AI to play a role in resolving those challenges in the future. Additionally, changes to regulatory frameworks, corporate practices, and individual mindsets, may be required according to McKinsey’s research.
One thing is certain, the forces behind this transformation are accelerating driven by the recent tax changes. Apple and Amazon have announced they will be creating tens of thousands of jobs in the US. Added that amount of new positions to an already tight labor will force us to think about how work is done, and who does it. The jobs may be here but where the “work” gets done may not. We may not only see the “death” of the company “employee” but also the concept of a “domestic” workforce.
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Gartner predicts that by 2018, machines will replace writers, authoring 20% of the content you read. Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst said that “Robowriters” are already producing budget, sports and business reports, and this trend is happening without notice. One advantage for machines according to Plummer: “They don’t have biases or emotional responses.”
I’ll buy machine generated content for basic information, like the items mentioned above, and that may signal that it’s time for some writers, in particular those who create “formulaic” content (like press releases), to get their resumes together. But what I won’t buy is a world of content that exists purely on fact and data, void of any emotional connections. In fact, another trend is now happening that may signal a need for even more writers who can make personal connections with audiences.
“Design Thinking” to the Rescue
The good news is that companies, like IBM and GE are following Apple’s lead in embracing “Design Thinking.” This year alone, IBM is seeking to hire 1,100 designers to help reignite growth and change the corporate culture. What may be a “boom time” for designers may also have a waterfall effect on content creators, here’s why.
Companies are embracing design thinking as a response to the increased complexity of today’s products and/or business environment. As Apple has learned, people need their interactions with technologies and other systems (for example, Healthcare) to be simple, intuitive and perhaps, even enjoyable.
The first principle of design thinking for products is to empathize with users by focusing on their experiences, especially their emotional ones. To build empathy with users, a design-centric organization empowers employees to observe behavior and draw conclusions about people’s needs and wants.
As author Jon Kolko states in his Harvard Business Review article entitled Design Thinking Comes of Age, “organizations that “get” design use emotional language (words that concern desires, aspirations, engagement, and experience) to describe products and users.”
“Design thinking is an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing.”
As companies improve the product/user experience, organizations must improve how they communicate emotionally derived value propositions…and that is the opportunity for content marketers. “Robowriters” can’t understand the emotional triggers involved in the purchasing process — at least not yet. As CEO Tony Fadell said in an interview published in Inc., “At the end of the day you have to espouse a feeling—in your advertisements, in your products. And that feeling comes from your gut.”
With ever expanding distribution channels, the need for content has never been greater. As machines move in to fill the void, the world of content will divide into algorithm-assembled fact oriented content, and human generated “emotional” content.
The handwriting may on the wall for some writers but the upside of this trend may just usher in golden era of impactful relevant content marketing for many. For now, if you a create content take inventory of what you do on a daily basis, and make plans to move to the human side…or risk being replaced by a “Bot.”
Years ago, a friend of mine sold his company to national telecommunication company. With time on his hands, and being a serial entrepreneur he set out on his next project.
Watching his two children come home every night with overstuffed backpacks full of books, he decided his next venture would be to lighten their load. With a track record of technology innovations, he developed an e-reader years before the IPad and Kindle. The reader had an interactive note pad on one side and the e-reader on the other side. He provided much of the funding and line up production in South Korea and China.
Next, he would need the education system to play along. And that’s where the story ends. He preached of the value of democratizing education to school systems, locally and nationally. The opportunity to generate new revenue streams by promoting college professors, courses and information beyond the classroom to the reach of every student with internet access. But the old guard was too wedded to their legacy business models, and their traditional thinking of a “campus education” and as a result, they never got onboard.
That was until now. Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs are changing the mindset of some of the most prestigious colleges in the US. Leading universities like Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins are now putting some of their marque courses online, and many of them for free.
MOOC platform providers like Coursera, edX and Udacity believe higher education is a basic human right and, as a result, have seen a surge in interest. Coursera now has more than 1.7 million registered students. Brian Caffo, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, teaches what he calls a “math biostatistics boot camp” that usually draws a few dozen graduate students (found 15,000 students from around the world had signed up for the free online course).
Bringing higher education to the masses also comes paradigm-shifting challenges. It has the potential of redefining the value of a “campus education” and to disrupt the traditional business model. Nick Anderson of Washington Post suggest that MOOC platforms pose a key question for universities “Are they undercutting time tested financial models that relies on students willing to pay a high price for a degree from a prestigious institution…or are they accelerating the onset of a democratized, globalized version of higher education?”
Burck Smith likens it to the challenge newspapers faced when they first launched web sites. Smith, the CEO of StraightLine, which sells low cost online courses says, “Free content has never really been a successful business model.”
Perhaps Mr. Smith is wrong. With two kids not far from college, I’d like to suggest that there could be a new business model built on free content – Advertising.
In this new world, Universities become, in a sense, content houses, similar to publishers. By making the best universities, courses and professors available to the masses, the opportunity to draw huge audiences and to build brands worldwide is created.
For example, the eight courses made available by Johns Hopkins have drawn more than 170,000 students from around the world. And where there are highly engaged and defined eyeballs, there are advertisers waiting, and wanting to gain access, especially given the fact that courses are available in multiple formats and devices.
Although this “revolution” is in its early stages, it has to the potential to redefine the college experience, education and business model. And, as the story of my friend attests, the industry is slow to change, but with cost of an average public college education at $27,435, “free” sounds pretty good to me.
Original post date June 11, 2009
In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and popularized the concept of “paradigm shift.” Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a “series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions”, and in those revolutions “one conceptual world view is replaced by another”.
Social media is creating a “violent revolution” as it relates to our definition of what is accepted as “work.” The paradigm shift is believing that it is acceptable behavior to spent half your time at work on Linked-In, Facebook or Twitter?
In a recent survey by Michael Stelzner, on social media marketing almost 10% of the survey respondents spent 20+ hours a week on social media marketing. Ask senior executives in marketing in my age demographic (age 40-44) and they’ll tell you; “I don’t get it…” In the past, spending time online at work to do personal business was viewed as a major productivity waster.
In a 2006, INC reported the productivity loss to be as high as $544 billion dollars (just think about that, if we all stopped surfing the net at work we could fund the Federal bailout of the Banking, Insurance and Auto industries). As a result, companies took dramatic measures to block or monitor access to sites, tools like IM and other “distracting” technologies.
Now after years of being told that being online at work was a bad thing, this new research and the appeal of Social Media sites, makes the case that it’s not only safe, but in certain cases, necessary to be online. According to the Salary.com & AOL survey, the average 2 hours a day American workers wasted in 2006 surfing the net is now the average time needed to do social media marketing…my, my how times have changed.
And what might be most surprising is that may be “OK” with the boss – the most active users of sites like; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are small business owners according to Stelzner’s report.
Other interest findings from the research:
- A New Day is Dawning – although 88% of marketers reported using social media for marketing, 72% have just started (less than 3 months).
- Once You Start…You Can’t Stop – the research points out a direct correlation between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly commitment. For folks just starting, the mean is 2 hours a week, compare that with folks who have been at it for years…an average of 20+ hours.
- One Thing Leads to Another – the more time you log, the more tools/sites you’ll use. Similar to the old thinking that cigarettes and alcohol lead to the “harder” stuff, the same is true with Social Media usage. The “newbies” like to start with LinkedIn, hard core users are most interested in social bookmarking sites, FriendFeed and StumbleUpon.
- Not the “Youngins” – contrary to popular belief, it’s the 30 to 39 year old segment that logs in the most time, with 44.8% reporting spending 10+ hours a week.
- Small Business “Sweetspot” – small businesses love social media marketing because it has generated exposure for their business, leads and partnerships, and to close business.
So if you’re going to be logging some social media hours on the company dime you might want to follow a protocol to keep the lawyers happy. In an article entitled “Managing the Tweets” in the June 1, 2009 edition of Business Week the author lays out IBM’s social media guidelines.