The Shocking Truth Why Hackers Want Your Business Assets By Dave Sutton

Are you one of the millions of Americans affected by the massive Equifax data breach?

Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S., last week announced a massive cybersecurity incident that potentially revealed the personal identity information of approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Personal data and assets at risk included names, addresses, dates of birth, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, addresses – quite a jackpot for an identity thief.

So at this point, you might be thinking to yourself: “Why is a transformational marketing firm like TopRight writing about cybersecurity and data breaches?”

Well, in a world where our customer’s and our employee’s financial and personal data can be easily compromised and used for everything from bank card fraud to extortion, protecting your confidential information and marketing assets is imperative for every firm.

Information is one of the most valuable assets of an organization – whether intellectual property, personal data, or sensitive business information, most organizations have something that is valuable to someone else. Hence, every organization is a potential target. – Holly Rollo, CMO of RSA

From Equifax to Sony to the giant retail chain Target, cybersecurity risks have become a big threat to brand reputations and it must be a strategic priority not only for individuals but also for brands and their marketing leaders.

Nothing is more important to a company than its brand and marketing assets, which is why you must protect them from the very first day of launching a business. Unfortunately, many business leaders make the mistake of failing to protect their most valuable assets, only to realize their mistake once it is too late. To help you protect your assets, here are some tips and actions you must take to ensure your brand and marketing assets are secure.

5 Important Steps to Safeguard Business and Marketing Assets

1. Protect Your Data

The most valuable asset to your business is, of course, your data. This includes everything from a business plan, trade secrets, industry research, and personal information regarding your company, your channel partners, your customer data, and your employee data.

Many businesses have therefore chosen to move and secure that data in the cloud to enjoy centralized control, simpler data governance and heightened security firewalls to prevent breaches. As an added enticement, when you buy Office 365, sensitive information like emails, contracts, and collaboration tools can be accessed any practically any secure device, anywhere in the world (provided you have an internet connection!).

2. Apply for Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents

We are living in an era of fast-paced idea generation and transformational innovation. New ideas and new products hit the market every day, every minute practically! Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people out there who focus their energy not on innovation, but rather on misappropriation – trying to make money from someone else’s idea or invention. And, given that all businesses today compete in a global market, this problem is only going to expand in the years to come.

Your intellectual property will set you apart from your competitors. In order to protect and defend your intellectual property (IP) successfully, you must properly identify your Intellectual Property, execute Non-Disclosure Agreements With Third Parties and diligently Guard Against Infringements. Read our full article on 3 Proven Ways Marketers Protect Intellectual Property.

3. Introduce Internal Security Processes

If you haven’t done so already, it is time to introduce internal security processes and confidentiality agreements to protect your data and trade secrets successfully. Both will determine your success in the industry, so you must keep the information as secure as possible.

It is not only employees who will need to sign an agreement and follow your security measures, but you must also ensure any suppliers or contractors also follow the same rules you expect from your staff. In addition to confidentiality agreements and internal policies, we also recommend implementing password protections, data encryptions, and effective security systems that will keep your data secure 24 hours per day.

There is a predominant “check the box” mentality where organizations work to demonstrate compliance without understanding whether they have really addressed the underlying security challenges facing their business. – Colossal Equifax Data Breach Is Ominous Warning for Corporations

4. Insure Your Business Assets

While you might not like to think about it, losing your business assets could cost you a considerable amount of money. Don’t underestimate the importance of insurance, which will ensure you are financially protected if your physical or digital assets are compromised. You will sleep peacefully at night knowing you will have a financial backup should the worst happen.

5. Legal Protections

As every business is unique, it is your responsibility as a business owner to identify if every company asset is protected. If you are unsure where to start, we recommend consulting an experienced business solicitor to identify how to keep your assets safe.

A business solicitor will understand the best legal protections to secure your assets. It is also advisable to work alongside one solicitor or firm only to prevent an asset protection plan from becoming convoluted. This will ensure you receive a comprehensive approach to business asset protection.

For Equifax, their business asset happens to be millions of people’s personally identifiable data. Not enacting the property security protocols and failing to make a routine software update lead to the massive breach. However, this is no longer an IT problem for the credit reporting organization. The breach touches the entire company – finance, customer service, marketing, operations, and especially the CEO.

Protecting your data and marketing assets is vital to building your brand and safeguarding your investment. If you’re committed to transforming your business through marketing, you must get all 3S’s right: the right Story, the right Strategy, and the right Systems. It’s key to have the right processes and technology in place to avoid security issues, protect your brand and arm your business to succeed.

Learn more about how TopRight’s 3S Approach (Story, Strategy, and Systems) can help you transform your marketing to drive measurable results in our eBook: Transformational Marketing – Moving to the TopRight.

 

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Is it Time to Innovate? What Netflix Got Right (And WebTV Didn’t) By Daniel Burrus

jgryntysz / Pixabay

One point I continually stress in speaking to audiences and in consulting with organizations of all sorts is the absolute importance of innovation. Without a culture that encourages and rewards innovation—and not just tweaks to an existing product or service—you will increasingly find yourself reacting to innovation supplied by others. And that’s a dicey place to be.

Over the years I’ve been surprised by how many leaders ask the question: When is the best time to innovate?

As with so many other things, it depends on the industry you are in, the level of disruption you are experiencing and what you wish to achieve with innovation.

When to Hold Off

By many accounts, we could have had iPhones in our hands several years earlier than they were released. Why did Apple wait? Basically, the user experience wouldn’t have been up to Apple standards had the product shipped sooner than it did.

Ten years ago, when the iPhone was introduced, streaming video would have been awful. In addition, processing power was not quite there yet. A major goal of Apple’s innovation was to have features with optimal performance and so they had to be patient. Even now, reports hold that new versions of the iPhone may also be delayed somewhat as Apple fully polishes new, advanced features.

There are other similar examples. Siri didn’t come on the scene until it was genuinely useful and reliable. By the same token, Netflix began with a postal-based delivery system because streaming movie technology was not ready yet.

3 Digital Accelerators

The common thread to these and other examples like them comes back to what I call the Three Digital Accelerators—exponential advances in:

  • Bandwidth,
  • Storage and
  • Computing power.

These three technological drivers are the major forces behind all sorts of new products and remarkable innovations. And, in the case of many products and services, all three of those drivers need to have accelerated to the point to adequately support a great user interface. Failing that, many forms of digital innovation simply can’t be all that they can be.

It’s happened many times in the past. Just look at how WebTV—a precursor to the type of Internet-based television that’s ubiquitous these days—struggled and ultimately failed due to inadequate broadband support.

When to Go For It

On the other hand, think back to when video first made its way onto your desktop computer. In many cases, the viewing area was small and the picture quality was rather murky. The video itself was supplied by a disc rather than the high-speed Internet quality we’re used to now. But it was there, and many consumers readily took to it. That’s because it was cool and intriguing, and the overall quality of the experience played second fiddle to the “wow” factor.

That’s the essential crux of the question of when it’s the optimal time to introduce an innovation. Consider your objective in introducing certain types of digital innovation as well as your audience. On the one hand, as was the case with the iPhone and Netflix, the underlying technology hadn’t yet advanced to the point to ensure a consistently superior experience. And, for those sorts of products, that was everything.

On the other hand, substandard video on a computer didn’t mitigate the product’s customer appeal. Rather, it was new and engaging, however flawed the actual technology. Customers who are early adopters were clearly happy to settle for cool until the technology came along to craft higher function and better performance.

So, when considering advanced digital innovation involving technology such as virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence, timing can be everything when it comes to the optimal time to introduce what you’ve come up with. In some cases, it pays to get your foot in the door—offer something that people will find cool and engaging but will also be willing to wait for until it can become truly exceptional.

In others, it may be better to hold off until the Three Digital Accelerators allow for a fantastic, superior experience. Get ideas for other innovations when you order The Anticipatory Organization book from Amazon.com now.

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How to Become an Intrapreneur at Work By Paul Sloane

Say you have a great idea for a new product or service in your field of expertise but you are reluctant to take the plunge, quit your job and start your own business. You know that launching this venture on your own would be risky, stressful and costly. There is an alternative – stay with your current employer and become an ‘intrapreneur’ – someone who acts as an entrepreneur but inside an established organization. Most companies recognize the need for more innovation and actively encourage employees to suggest and develop new business ideas. Here are eight key ways to help make your idea happen.

  1. Find out what suggestion schemes and innovation programs are already in place inside the organization. Could you harness one of these?
  2. Align your idea with corporate goals and direction. Your big idea will be easier to sell if it fits in with corporate mission, values and strategy.
  3. Solve a customer need. Look for a simpler, faster or better way to solve a problem for customers. If you can show that this idea will cost less, sell more, save time, expand into new markets or increase profits then you are more likely to get the backing you need.
  4. Get your boss’s support. Sell the benefits. Show that it will be good for him or her if this initiative succeeds. Ask for their ideas and input. Request time to devote to the project and suggest constructive ways in which some of your current tasks could be delegated.
  5. Gather a network of allies. Involve people from other departments and get their ideas, help and support. A high-level sponsor would be a great help too. Watch out for turf wars, envy and internal politics so choose your crew carefully.
  6. Build a prototype. Make a mock-up of the product. For an app show a series of screen layouts. For a service develop a story board. Unless the idea is so revolutionary that it can be patented, show the prototype to some customers and gather fast feedback.
  7. Prepare a killer presentation. Show that you have thought through the risks as well as the upsides. Fully cost your plan. Present the feedback from clients (positive and negative). Test your pitch with some colleagues before presenting to senior executives. Clearly ask for the resources you need. Don’t downplay the challenges you face.
  8. Don’t be too precious about your big idea. Seek advice. Listen to criticisms and feedback. Involve others and share any success or praise with your colleagues and your boss.

Most new product initiatives fail so try your best but do not be down-hearted if your first project flops. Try again. Whatever happens, you will have raised your profile, learned a lot and made some handy contacts. You will now be seen as a real go-getter. It could be the start of something great.

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How Business Messaging is Gaining Ground on Branded Apps By Margie Kupfer

LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay

Customer interactions have become a priority to businesses across various industries, specifically to consumers who own mobile devices. Throughout the recent years, businesses have been developing their own apps of their popular brands, pushing for an increase in their customer interactions. Yet, global computer magazine PC World reveals recent data on app downloads. In 2016, app downloads had reportedly decreased by 20%. Today on an average month, U.S. mobile users download practically zero apps.

Worry not, aside from this recent data, businesses have turned to messaging as an intriguing alternative to connect, engage and even transact with their customers. Options include interactions through SMS, MMS, and OTT, which can transform into the change of mobile messaging history, RCS (Rich Communication Services).

RCS

Audio, video, and other media content from OTT platforms joining forces with SMS and MMS capabilities creates the rich power messenger of RCS. Adoptions of RCS, such as in newer Samsung smartphones on the AT&T network, are looking for RCS to create the personal and interactive messaging between users by providing eye-catching features such as when a message is “read” or the pop-up indication of a current message being typed out.

Businesses can use these advantages in a style of RCS Business Messaging, where they can send their customers informational images and videos for quick service, as well, and send immediate responses to inquiries and provide interactive widgets for users. Since RCS is becoming the new standard for business to consumer communications, the GSMA, who represent the interests of mobile operators globally, is striving toward the full support of all carriers across the globe.

Brands Incorporating RCS For Their Apps

Though the use of apps has heavily decreased since 2016, they are still a necessity to shifting customer care strategies for businesses and their mobile users. Why should businesses stick to their apps as the only source of unique customer journeys when they can include the daily use of SMS and MMS messaging?

For example, a local theatre of a well-known cinema chain comes out with an app where customers can view the current show times of popular films and reserve tickets and seats for a specific date and time. Once tickets are purchased through the app, a confirmation text will be sent to the customer’s phone, thanking them for their purchase and including the image of the film they are set to view. They will also receive a text reminder on the day of the film. This text will include a link that takes the customer directly to their ticket in the app, ready for it to be scanned. Because of how easily apps and messaging can help one another, it makes sense to join them to create a strong gateway to provide fast and efficient customer service.

The rich capabilities of RCS in business-to-customer communications creates the evolution of genuine customer service. Brands that decide not to give up their apps and instead incorporate RCS with them can stay ahead in providing exceptions customer communication journeys and easy mobile transactions for customers.

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iOS 11 Is Here, and So Are Big App Store Changes By Ashley Sefferman

iOS 11 ushered in many changes, one of the biggest being a completely redesigned App Store. Although the impact the changes will have on discoverability and downloads is still to be determined, it’s clear Apple has placed priority on helping a greater number of app publishers gain exposure to larger audiences.

While many developers have played with the iOS 11 beta for a few months, yesterday was the first day the general public was able to access the new features and functionalities. We’ve had a ton of fun experiencing the new OS, and want to share the biggest changes to the App Store, along with what they’ll do for consumers and app publishers, with you in today’s post.

“Today”

The new “Today” tab is the most noticeable change in the iOS 11 App Store. This news-esque tab is now the first screen consumers see when they open the App Store. Today helps bring a bit of humanity back to the App Store though featuring stories behind featured apps, new releases, exclusive offerings, and more, all curated by Apple’s editorial team.

Today

Apple has leveraged multiple content channels to help deliver Today’s stories, including unique artwork, stories straight from app developers and customers, and video. Refreshingly, the Today tab is not pay-to-play, which means a broader range of stories from apps big and small can be told—a big win for consumers.

Ratings and reviews

There are big changes for app publishers around the cadence of asking for ratings and reviews. App publishers now have a choice to reset your ratings between app versions. Similar to the Google Play Store, an app’s rating won’t reset with each new version, but will instead reflect the overall rating.

Ratings and reviews

Additionally, Apple now limits rating prompts to three times per year, which means consumers will be less bombarded with prompts at poor times within their in-app sessions. (For more on how to prepare your app and time your ratings prompts at the right time and place, check out our recent post.) App publishers also now have the ability to respond directly to consumer reviews, and their responses are public to potential customers, which provides more transparency for potential customers.

Top charts

The top charts are now separated into two categories: gaming apps and non-game apps. Popular games have always crowded the top charts, making discoverability difficult for up-and-coming apps. Now, Apple separates the traditional top charts into Games and Apps, which will (hopefully) result in better search results for consumers and wider reach for new apps.

Side note: I used iOS 11’s new screenshot markup tool (more about it here) to edit the image below. Super powerful and fun!

Top charts

The new Top Charts also includes more in-depth content highlighting stories about apps that have interesting updates, suggestions for new apps to try, and more. The end result will (again, hopefully) be happier consumers that aren’t bombarded by the same apps over and over again, and happier app publishers due to expanded discoverability.

Description pages

iOS 11 includes various enhancements to apps’ description pages that gives consumers a more holistic view of an app before they download. The newly designed product page is more streamlined, with clearer calls to important information.

App publishers can now do more with:

  • App preview through images and video
  • Localization to help personalize a consumer’s preview experience
  • Clearer details around in-app purchases
  • Age appropriateness of the app’s content
  • New text fields for promoting limited-time events and time-sensitive messages

Here’s a quick peek into what a new description page looks like. Side note: I used iOS 11’s new screen recording functionality (more about it here) to take the below video.

Description page

In-app purchase promotion

Consumers are now able to start an in-app purchase before they even finish downloading an app. According to Apple, app publishers can promote up to 20 in-app purchases, including subscriptions, on their description pages, or in-app purchases can appear in search results.

In-app purchase promotion

This update helps app publishers encourage downloads, and helps set consumer expectations by helping people understand what’s available for purchase within your app before they take the time to download. It will be interesting to see which side of the table, consumers or app publishers, this change to the App Store helps more.

Looking ahead

iOS 11 brings plenty of changes to the App Store, and from what we’ve seen so far, Apple is putting the consumer at the center of their new updates. We’ll continue to work with consumers and app publishers alike to understand how these changes affect App Store search and discoverability, and to gauge whether or not they meet their intended positive impact.

What other features have you enjoyed in iOS 11? Any big changes to the App Store that weren’t covered? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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Do You Really Know That Elephant? How to Understand What Your Audience Really Thinks By Laura MacPherson

You’ve probably heard the parable of the blind men and the elephant. This story first appeared in the Buddhist text Udana 6.4, dating around the 1st millennium BCE. If it’s been awhile since you’ve read it, the parable goes like this:

A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to their town. None of the men were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said, “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable.”

So, they sought the animal out, and when they found it, they each reached out to touch it. The first man, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, “This being is like a thick snake.” For another man, whose hand reached its ear, the animal seemed like a kind of fan. Yet another, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “The elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk.” The man who placed his hand on its side said, “The elephant is a wall.” Another who felt its tail, described the elephant as a rope. The last man felt its tusk and stated that the elephant is hard, smooth, and like a spear.

Which man was correct? They were each basing their conclusions on primary research. But none of the men had the complete picture. They didn’t have all the data.

We Now Know Everything

We have access to more data today than we ever have. Big Data is a term that marketers use to describe the extremely large data sets that can be analyzed by computers to reveal patterns, trends, and associations related to human behavior and interactions. Big Data is used to determine what target audiences desire and to predict how any given market segment will develop.

Or Do We?

But this unprecedented access to data has lulled us into thinking we can know everything there is to know about a group of people via analytics. Yes, Big Data is a function of truly complex computations, and the data scientists who work with that data are intelligent and innovative. But there’s only so much we can learn about a person through a computer.

Werner Heisenberg, a German theoretical physicist, said, “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” When we’re seeking to understand a group of people, are we absolutely sure we’ve asked all the right questions?

How to Get a More Complete Picture

So what’s the solution? We have to recognize that people are complex beings that aren’t easily reduced to a set of quantitative data points. In our quest for quick knowledge, we’ve focused almost exclusively on the data that can be easily measured. We’ve forgotten about qualitative data, where real insight is hidden.

Gathering qualitative data is a time-consuming process that’s inherently inefficient. It requires having old-fashioned conversations with people. It’s almost impossible to automate. But it’s the only way we’ll find the missing pieces of the bigger picture.

Qualitative data takes us all the way around the elephant, from trunk to tail. And this type of data goes far beyond describing the outward characteristics of the elephant’s physical being. To continue the analogy, qualitative data gives us a glimpse of this magnificent animal’s astounding intelligence and reveals that elephants are also surprisingly emotional creatures.

Let’s not get star-struck by Big Data and its mirage of quick knowledge. Let’s do the hard work of qualitative data—the interviews, the conversations—and dedicate ourselves to truly understanding the people we’re trying to communicate with, attract, and sell to. In marketing (and in life!), our success depends on it.

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5 Traits of Successful Innovators By Keith Bates

jarmoluk / Pixabay

What does it mean to innovate? The word itself is defined as “making changes” or “doing something in a new way.” Innovations inevitably shift the way we experience the world and go through our daily lives. Think about what you experience on a day-to-day basis. You’re reading this right now on a device dreamed up by visionaries like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Driving around, you’ve most likely seen Elon Musk’s vision of an electric vehicle, a Tesla, rolling right next to you. And you may have let your friends know about that through Facebook, for which we have Mark Zuckerberg to thank (most likely…the movie The Social Network has some other theories on that we won’t get into here).

But a product or service alone isn’t what makes these innovative people and their brands thrive. Other electric cars came out first. Other social networks were online first. But as we all know, being first doesn’t guarantee success. There are other things that set these innovative brands apart. When we look at top innovators and their brands, there are five key traits they all share that drive their success.

1. Own an unshakable point of view.Successful innovators maintain an intense, unwavering focus and act on their vision, even when it would be easier to water down the vision to appeal to a broader audience. Setbacks and obstacles may exist in their world, but true innovators aren’t always driven by sales. They are driven more by proving they’re right and bringing their vision to life with sales coming in as part of that process. It’s that spirit that pushed Elon Musk’s Tesla, SpaceX, and Hyperloop projects to where they are today. It’s the same spirit that drove Dr Pepper to carve out its own space with a unique flavor that can’t be replicated by Coca-Cola or Pepsi. They confidently act on their vision with a singular drive to achieve their objective.

2. Build from the inside out.Successful innovators know that employees drive companies forward, not just the product. Giving those employees the freedom and responsibility to make contributions that impact the company fosters a collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit that is rewarded. Brands like Facebook and Pixar give their employees the room and the opportunity to make a real impact, whether it’s a new feature for the social network or a new way to process images for an animated film. Innovators master these processes and use them to keep the company in the best position to be a category leader.

3. Design with empathy.Design simply. Design beautifully. Design that shows you are thinking about the customer and eliminating any barriers to delivering an easy and intuitive experience for everyone. Top innovators not only keep their customers top of mind at all times, they also always look ahead to anticipate and predict customer behaviors to continue providing that easy experience. These principles drive Apple’s process of delivering beautifully designed products, and it’s a process that continually evolves to anticipate customers’ future needs.

4. Provide value at every touch point.In today’s world, there are numerous ways to reach and interact with your audience that go way beyond the traditional TV, radio, or print avenues. Since the attention grab has been spread across multiple physical and digital channels, delivering value at every touch point is paramount to keeping the customer happy. Innovative brands add value to people’s lives in interesting, unique, and engaging ways no matter where the interaction happens. Whether it’s a phone, laptop, TV, tablet, or voice-command center, Amazon can engage with their customers, take care of their needs, and add value to their day through its services.

5. Think tribally.Building a culture of care and camaraderie that rallies around one purpose creates an infectious passion for the brand that customers can feel at every touch point. Companies like Zappos and Southwest Airlines are known not only for delivering value, but also for delivering a consistent brand experience that’s derived from shared core beliefs that inform every customer interaction. This opens the door to focusing on like-minded customers with whom you will form faster, deeper, and longer relationships because there’s no need to persuade them about the validity of your brand. They are believers and know the value of the products and services your brand provides.

When you look at your company and your brand, ask yourself: Where do I see these traits ring true in what we do? How can we incorporate these traits into our company culture? How can we further embrace that spirit of innovation that will help us make an impact on the world?

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