Category Archives: Big Data

Learning From Past Mistakes: Predictions For Cybersecurity In 2016

Learning From Past Mistakes: Predictions For Cybersecurity In 2016

Predictions Cybersecurity 2016

From Ashley Madison to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), hackers did not discriminate between organizations or industries when it came to unleashing cyber-attacks in 2015. This past year, data breaches affected millions of people with headlines of a new hack appearing almost daily. On an individual level, customers’ passwords were compromised, credit card information stolen, and private lives became public to name a few ill-fated scenarios.

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On the other hand, the organizations that were hacked lost millions of dollars, trust from their customers, and brand credibility. Many will not recover from such serious blows to their reputations. Businesses can only withstand a cybersecurity hack if they invest the time, effort, and money into response, recovery, and the future protection of the organization and its customers.

With lessons learned from 2015 in mind, here are four predictions related to cybersecurity that will make news in 2016:

1. CEO turnover will increase

In 2016, organizations will come to realize that a cybersecurity breach is inevitable and stakeholders will point to the CEO as the responsible party when they occur. No one is immune to cyber threats and the sooner corporate boards and C-suite executives realize this, the better off their organizations will be.

Because cybersecurity is no longer an issue solely reserved for IT departments, the C-suite, particularly CEOs, will be held responsible for data breaches. The sophistication of cyber threats is unprecedented, requiring executives to evaluate the access of data from employees, customers, partners, regulators and vendors. As such, after a breach occurs, many CEOs will either be forced to step down or be fired.

Additionally, executives must be able to demonstrate they have taken all possible precautions to protect their customers’ data. Public expectations of transparency are likely to increase based on the increasing number of breaches. If CEOs cannot provide evidence of their organizations’ efforts, they will be swiftly replaced.

2. CISOs will be scrutinized more than ever

Corporate boards will scrutinize new CISO hires more than they had previously and more than any other C-suite position. A CISO will be expected to mitigate cyber risk, and ensure the organization maintains the philosophy and practice that compliance does not equate to security. Being compliant is important, but organizations must assume that measures must be taken above and beyond compliance and have strategies in place for identifying areas in need of security improvements.

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Performing penetration tests – tests where third parties are paid to infiltrate an organization’s infrastructure in order to uncover holes in security – will be one way CISOs will help arm their organizations against unfriendly hackers. Having a data breach response and recovery plan will be another way CISOs mitigate risks for their businesses and their customers.

3. Cyber insurance will become more popular

As 2015 demonstrated, data breaches are a very real and pervasive threat. Only by taking preemptive measures and proactively preparing a response and recovery strategy will organizations be able to bounce back when one occurs to them.

Part of this proactivity will come in the form of cyber insurance. Even with executives understanding the need for a cybersecurity strategy, it is difficult to calculate all potential costs involved in a breach. Financial considerations must include both direct and indirect costs. An example of direct costs is the financial reparations paid to affected customers after a breach. Indirect costs can include the legal fees incurred while an organization is sued for these reparations.

By purchasing an insurance plan, organizations will be able to minimalize the out-of-pocket costs of a breach.

4. Mobile device management (MDM) will be critical

Organizations will come to understand the threat that connected devices pose to their enterprises. Individuals are using unsecure mobile devices and cloud-based applications without realizing it, which is why MDM and its providers will play a vital role in maintaining organizational security.

Entry into an organization’s infrastructure via a mobile or connected (IoT) device can be relatively simple if the organization is not prepared. For example, if a person’s cell phone or an application on his or her cell phone is hacked and the device is connected to a company’s wireless internet system, a hacker can gain access to the company’s network.

2016 will inevitably be a year with many more data breaches, but hopefully 2015 has taught us that C-suite proactivity and strategy can minimize cyber risk. Learning from the missteps of 2015 will enable organizations to approach cybersecurity with a top-down approach, making it a priority for employees at every level.

 

Larry Jones' HeadshotBy Larry Jones, CEO, Coalfire

Larry Jones is the chairman and CEO of Coalfire and has over 25 years of experience building, operating and growing public and private companies. Under Jones direction, Coalfire is the leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services and is the trusted advisor for the leading brands in the healthcare, retail, financial services and technology industries. Jones has a successful track record as a corporate director and chief executive for companies such as StarTek (NYSE:SRT), MessageMedia (NASD: MESG), and Neodata.  Jones, alumnus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Boston University, has more than 25 years of experience building, operating and growing public and private equity backed companies.

Wishing You All A Very Happy Holidays

Wishing You All A Very Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Enjoy a few of our favorite seasonal comics over the years. Feel free to share and happy holidays to all!

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Big-Data-Santa

cloud-movement-cloudtweaks

christmas-clouds

santashop-cloud-pole

Please feel free to share our comics via social media networks such as Twitter with a clear attribution (Twitter example: via @cloudtweaks) to the original comic source. If you are a company brand looking to utilize our comics to generate leads to a specific landing page, newsletter, presentation or social media campaign, you can contact us regarding commercial licensing rates. Enjoy!

Cloud Email Marketing Services vs. Transactional Email Services

Cloud Email Marketing Services vs. Transactional Email Services

Cloud Based Email Marketing Services

Every business can benefit from successful implementation of email marketing strategies, but the variety of SaaS on the market can be a little overwhelming at times. Whether you’re interested in learning more about email marketing or hoping to clear up any confusion surrounding transactional email, a little research into these services can only improve the ways you digitally interact with your clients.

What You Need to Know About Email Marketing Services

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

We’re already familiar with email marketing—we find those emails in our inboxes on a regular basis. You’re on the receiving end of an email marketing service any time you receive a mass email update from a company you care about, or a promotional message from your favorite store. Businesses employ these services in order to streamline the mass emailing process, reach out to potential clients and keep current clients loyal and informed.

email-marketing-s

Depending on your business’ average number of contacts, your chosen marketing service could run you anywhere from $10 to almost $200 a month (but that’s a lot of contacts). Some favorably reviewed examples are Benchmark Email, iContact, and MailChimp.

What You Need to Know About Transactional Email Services

Transactional emails are, to put it simply, triggered messages. When you make a new account with a website or purchase something online, for example, the confirmation email you receive is transactional—it’s sent in response to a user action. Those notification emails you get from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (He’s following you! She replied to your message!) are transactional, too.

Using a dedicated service means that you will be able to send a greater number of these emails at higher speeds, which is good news for both growing and established businesses. Pricing obviously varies depending on the amount of clients you serve. Depending on the service, you can pay per thousand emails sent (usually $.10 or more) or purchase a monthly plan that comes with a set number. Additionally, quite a few services offer a set number of free emails. The Cloud based Amazon SES, MailChimp’s Mandrill, and Mailjet are just a few transactional email options to choose from.

When to Use an Email Marketing Service

You should consider an email marketing service if your business is the type to send newsletters, new product announcements, automated (not triggered) marketing campaigns, birthday messages, demographic-specific info, “lifecycle” messages (emails sent at certain points over the course of a client’s relationship with a business, i.e. discount incentives for new users or sign-up anniversary rewards), or general promotional emails.

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Successful businesses measure and analyze the results of their marketing strategies so improvements can be made in future marketing endeavors. An email marketing service can provide analytics and feedback to show you what works and what doesn’t.

When to Use a Transactional Email Service

Transactional email comes into play if your business sends enough one-to-one messages to necessitate a dedicated service. In addition to the earlier examples of account creation, purchase receipts, and social media interaction, this service works well for user password reminders or resets, invoices, newsletter signup verification, initial acknowledgement of a customer service request, and any other kind of customized automated response. Thanks to the service, these messages are sent seconds after the initial trigger action, which is crucial to maintaining client satisfaction.

Choosing What Works for You

Email marketing can do wonders for both creating and maintaining brand loyalty, so experienced and new businesses alike can stand to benefit from a marketing service. According to VerticalResponse,  the top five industries to employ both email marketing and social media strategies are non-profits, real estate, marketing and advertising, Internet, and health and wellness. If your business falls into any of these categories, you’ll definitely want to consider a service—especially if you’re looking to grow your client base.

As for transactional email service, there’s a little more room to choose. Do your clients have accounts on your website? They may need account and password confirmation emails. Are you starting to get more customer service requests than you can immediately handle? An automated response might do the trick until you can get to the overflow. If your business’ volume of automated emails is growing, a preemptive move into transactional email service can save you time in the long run.

If you’re interested in changing the way you send email, make sure to do your research first. Check an online comparison list to see how your potential service stacks up against its competitors. Once you’ve selected a suitable service, gauge how many emails you send in a month. From there, you should be able to choose a plan that fits your business—be it transactional, marketing, or both.

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LeoBy Leo Welder

Leo Welder is the Founder and CEO of ChooseWhat.com, LLC, a website that guides entrepreneurs through the process of starting a business, and Zilker Ventures, LLC, which manages a family of B2B information sites.

Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity In 2016

Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity In 2016

Preparing For Anything

With 1,800,000,000 gigabytes of data created in the last year, the various causes of data loss and downtime such as human error, UPS failure, cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and IT equipment failure take on a great significance. Especially since most of these are entirely preventable. According to stats provided by SingleHop, 93% of businesses experiencing data center failures lasting 10 or more days go bankrupt within one year. 43% of companies that experience a disaster never reopen and only 6% of businesses without a disaster recovery plan survive in the long term.

Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity In 2016

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a less glamorous but compelling benefit of the cloud, encouraging the already high drive towards cloud adoption. However, there are fundamental compliance concerns that are spotlighted too.

[Free Video] Free 15-minute DR Assessment & Analysis >

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Hybrid Infrastructure DRaaS

Cloud-based disaster recovery was initially adopted by large enterprises on one side of the spectrum, and start-ups on the other, both securing data in public clouds. However, business managers sometimes forget that cloud is simply a data vault, and once migrating data to the cloud consider disaster recovery planning to be achieved without actually creating any recovery strategies. DRaaS fills this gap.

Global research firm MarketsandMarkets predicts a compounded annual growth in the DRaaS market of 55.2% from 2013 to 2018, and rather than mere storage solutions, cloud disaster recovery providers help organizations store data, but also recover data to physical hardware, virtual machines, or other cloud environments. Hybrid infrastructure DRaaS solutions allow organizations to store essential data in on-site appliances while managing backups in the cloud, and TheInfoPro (451 Research’s service) found in interviews with IT and storage experts at more than 250 medium and large global organizations that companies are steadily adopting dedicated storage appliances for disaster recovery.

Compliance Concerns

The constantly changing global compliance landscape and regulations make it difficult for businesses to keep up, and it’s concerning that important aspects are sometimes missed or swept aside. Helping deal with this challenge, some organizations are installing dedicated regulatory program managers, but with a shortage of skills, many companies are reporting that senior management is lacking integrated response to regulatory reform. If only half of a business is compliant, it is essentially non-compliant.

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Operational standards such as the EU Data Protection Regulation and ISO standards must be heeded, but data retention time frames also need to be considered. Requirements for retention of various payroll and/or company data varies from country to country, and most countries require adequate data protection measures be in place. DRaaS offers some control with automated backup processes, making electronic records easily accessible, but before utilizing the cloud, service provider security practices should be evaluated, including compliance with BCI standards, encryption of data at rest and in transit, and thorough data center monitoring and employee assessment.

As the growth in data presents new challenges at a range of levels, organizations can take advantage of newer cloud resources such as DRaaS, ensuring they make the most of the data explosion, rather than allowing it to hinder operations.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Smart Cities: What Will The Future Bring?

Smart Cities: What Will The Future Bring?

Evolving Into Smarter Cities

As the digital world empowers us and gives us access to more information than ever before, it comes as no surprise that ‘smart cities’ are quickly becoming a reality, and soon will become more commonplace across the globe. Governments across the world are keen for their cities to become part of a environment that allows cloud-connected devices to collect data about a city’s surroundings and inhabitants.

While this may sound a little intrusive at first, it’s worth remembering that to make a city a success, data has to be collected in some form. Before the birth of the Internet, this may have been done in a number of ways. For example, if something was damaged within the city, then someone would report it and then it would be rectified.

smart-city-infographic

(Infographic Source: Smartresilient.com)

Cutting Out The Middleman

The aim of a smart city is to cut out the middleman, and offer those who reside in the city a more pro-active solution that will allow for the automation of data collecting via a number of different devices to create an infrastructure that looks to benefit the population of the city.

And while there a number of benefits for those who reside in the city, the businesses located within a smart city also look to benefit from the infrastructure. Those who use social networks will have at some point realized that they are faced with online adverts that suit their preferences. A similar practice can be implemented into a smart city, with businesses making offers based on your recent spending habits, and even the way you feel.

Connected Cars

The fact that a city is run by a series of connected devices could even change the way we travel. There’s no mistake that driverless cars are the catalyst for smart cities, and while driverless cars are still to make their debut officially, they will offer a number of benefits both for those being transported, and the environment overall.

Many drivers will have been caught up is some sort of traffic jam, or find themselves waiting in a huge line due to an accident that has occurred on the road. An autonomous car will be able to collect data from a range of different devices, advising the driverless car of the dangers ahead, which would therefore take the passenger to their destination via an alternative route.

This means that traffic managements is a more organized affair, and passengers should find that their ride into work is far cry from the long winded and stressful endeavor they’ve had to endure in the past.

As the driverless cars will be electric, the environment will benefit from cleaner air, which means the smart city itself will be a more desirable place to live. It also means that the urban population will become more efficient, and the over-burdening of public transport will become a thing of the past as shared rides become available.

Energy Monitoring

There also plans to monitor how energy is being used. The real-time stats that can be recorded will allow cities to reduce emissions, as well as saving the city money.

One project has already been launched by NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress within New York City’s Hudson Yards, and data will be monitored in relation to air quality energy production and pedestrian traffic among other things.

A similar initiative has been launched in Chicago. The Array of Things project looks to make Chicago a smart city by placing sensors throughout it. Add to this the similar initiatives launched in South Korea and it’s plain to see that steps are being taken to introduce smart cities globally.

Contingency Plan

cloud-recoveryThere are those who may scoff at the idea of a smart city, for fear that the data being collected is available to cyber criminals. While in theory, this isn’t out of the realms of possibility, the conversion to a smart city will be one where a great deal of research has to be carried out in relation to a robust security solution, as well as a contingency plan should the worst-case scenario scenario.

Many faults can be picked out of a world that conforming to embrace the digital era more than ever, but give the current financial climate of the world, having the ability to view real-time data in relation to a number of a different occurrences within the city allows those in charge to make pro-active decisions in the way we use energy, water and road vehicles.

Evidently, there will be a great deal of change associated with the conversion of cities across the globe, but up to now, may have adopted rapid changes within the technological world with relative ease. As we rely on smart devices every day, it makes sense to use the technology available to shape a better and cleaner future.

By Paul Simpson

The Future of Smarter Technology

The Future of Smarter Technology

Smarter Technology

The Internet of things has allowed the digital world to coincide with the physical world, but how far does technology plan to take us as it evolves? The technological world currently allows us to communicate and send data while mobile, but evolving technology looks to offer more that will bring the digital and physical world even closer together.

New ways of sending data are top of the agenda, so it comes as no surprise that new technology is being developed to speed up the process. Advancements will include the transferring of data between a device and a light source, as well as via audio frequencies that cannot be heard by the human ear, but can be read by a smartphone speaker. Included is excellent infographic highlighting the emerging technology roadmap provided by Barkleyus.

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future-tech

As more of us rely on the digital world to get through the day, it comes as no surprise that venture capital firms and technology companies are investing more time in new technology, as well as fine tuning the current technology to gain more accurate information.

The future of technology looks to get us involved with the world of technology without it being a hindrance. Devices will be able to deliver data at a quicker rate, while more everyday items will be connected to the Internet. Furthermore, the way we interact with devices will also evolve, thanks to gaze tracker technology that can ascertain as what part of a webpage a person is focusing on.

The evolvement of technology looks to be leading us into a connected world, more so than today. Augmented reality looks to offer new experiences in how we communicate, while Internet functionality is being instilled into more and more personal items, such as houses, cars and appliances.

By Paul Jellicoe

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

How Data Science And Machine Learning Is Enabling Cloud Threat Protection

Data Science and Machine Learning

Security breaches have been consistently rising in the past few years. Just In 2015, companies detected 38 percent more security breaches than in the previous year, according to PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey 2016.

Those breaches are a major expense — an average of $3.79 million per company, according to the Ponemon Institute. And Juniper Research forecasts that by 2019, data breaches globally will cost $2.1 trillion — four times more than in 2015.

Every year, global spending on cybersecurity has been growing. Gartner’s estimates put that spending at $75.4 billion this year. Despite those mounting expenses, attackers are still playing on the offense side, breaching through the defenses. Operating in a sophisticated, flourishing underground economy where they specialize and freely sell their goods and services, hackers are evolving much faster than the defenses can adapt to keep up.

Daunting Tasks

One major struggle for security teams stems from the lack of visibility and the information silos — especially as they try to sift through an increasingly large amount of IT security data sources. In most publicized breaches, the companies monitoring systems worked as they should, generating intrusion alerts. But the sheer number of daily alerts — along with the large number of false positives — makes the security analysts’ job daunting and results in ignored alerts.

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Increasingly, more organizations are turning to data science to help in rapid detection of breaches and to enable more efficient response. Called user and entity behavior analytics, or UEBA (a term coined by Gartner), this science can bridge the gap that no human can — helping to prioritize and reduce the number of alerts.

UEBA works by creating behavior-based models for cloud services (both for users and entities) and then analyzing activity against those models. Because they’re based on machine learning, the models continuously adapt depending on user behavior, and do so without the computers needing to be overtly programmed. For example, peer groups can be created based on data sets such as company databases and directories, user profiles and common user activities. Through UEBA, statistical models are applied to detect, in the right context, anomalies beyond the login — using factors such as a user’s login volume based on historic logs.

The process can quickly identify patterns that deviate from the “normal” behavior. Through this machine learning, computers can solve complex problems that require rich-data exploration, in environments where software engineering and humans alone cannot be successful. As a result, the number of security alerts will not only be significantly reduced from millions a day to hundreds, but they can be further prioritized to a short list of top alerts.

Fintech Detection

An analogy for how UEBA can help companies is the system that credit card institutions have in place for detecting fraudulent transactions. Rather than automatically flagging every single transaction over, say $10,000, or every user with a large number of transactions — or any other static threshold — the credit card companies use behavioral analytics to spot unusual activities among the billions of daily transactions. In the same way, UEBA can sift through massive datasets to flag potential breaches.

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For organizations, this ability is especially important as cloud use is exploding and security practices still a question mark. The average enterprise sees 2 billion cloud-based transactions daily, and the traditional breach-detection methods are not keeping up in this data-rich environment. UEBA can be used against factors such as service action, service action category, number of bytes uploaded/downloaded and rate/time of access of services across a service action or even an entire cloud service provider to identify behavioral anomalies. The UEBA can be customized for each enterprise based on time, rate, level of use etc.

One challenge in detecting anomalies in cloud use is the noticeable pattern variation that results from corporate policies as well as users’ personal preferences. If the actual usage is the only piece that can be observed, the user-behavior model is incomplete because it lacks unobservable components such as use variations during different times of day of different days of the week, or the evolution of a user’s preferences and patterns over time. UEBA connects the dots because it can predict future usage, leading to a more precise anomaly detection process.

Empowering Security

Security vendors are seeing the advantages of UEBA and beginning to integrate it into their products and services. Gartner forecasts that by 2017, at least 25 percent of the major DLP and SIEM providers will add UEBA capabilities either natively or through partnerships and acquisitions. That means companies will be able to bolster their security defenses and gain better visibility into their data, empowering their security teams with more robust, context-aware tools.

Although the human factor will never likely be eliminated in the fight against attackers, providing better failsafe mechanisms against human error through machine learning is a vital next step.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Sekhar Sarukkai

Wearable Tech And Employee Well Being

Wearable Tech And Employee Well Being

The Key To A Healthy Business

Wearable tech has effectively rewritten the terms and conditions of employee wellness programs. Organizations can now give employees fitness trackers as part of wider policies, using the data gathered over a given period to offer employees incentives and rewards. The appeal is two-fold: it nudges individuals towards healthier and more productive lifestyles; but it also helps organizations and their employees to save money. In an environment where the competition for the top talent is fierce, such employee wellness programs are increasingly important tools for boosting morale and building loyalty – but there are some caveats. The schemes have attracted attention because of the potential threat to employee privacy and job security, as well carrying implications for Big Data.

Million Step Challenge

In 2015, BP’s ‘Million Step Challenge’ has attracted a lot of media attention. Part of a larger wellness program and in partnership with StayWell, a third party health company, BP are offering employees the chance to use their healthy lifestyles as a way of earning benefits on their healthcare plan. Once employees enrol, they get a free Fitbit tracker to help them keep track of their daily activity, and with every million steps they earn 500 wellness points, or half of their annual target. Other ways of meeting the annual points target include scheduling an annual physical, participating in a financial wellness class and completing local BP-organized wellness activities. For staff who prefer to be more independent, there’s also a mail-based program, which provides them with resources, tools and activities to help them to be healthier and more active.

The Wearable Future

wearable-future

(Image Source: PWC)

The strength of the BP scheme, then, lies in the unobtrusive way that wearables are used to challenge, support and reward. That is to say, instead of imposing Fitbits on employees and monitoring their performance, they’re part of a voluntary scheme that has real advantages for employees and their family, nudging them towards a healthier lifestyle and saving them money in the process. Just as Fordism emphasized the importance of taking care of the worker to improve efficiency and loyalty, so wellness programs and wearable tech offer modern businesses a way of improving the health and morale of their workforce.

The Wearable Enterprise

In stressing the opportunities of wearable tech for enterprise, it’s important not to lose sight of the reasons people are worried. It may be easy to present a picture in which wearables are used well and with good intentions, but it’s also possible to think of misuses. What if companies were to monitor more than just steps? For example, wearables could also monitor employees’ sleep patterns or detect health conditions. This raises legitimate questions of what employers are entitled to do with the data, how securely they store it and where to draw the line between work and leisure.

employees

As more and more companies are thinking about how to make wearables work for their employees, it’s clear they face a number of implementation challenges. A recent study by PwC showed a clear generational gap between Millennials and older employees, with 77% of those aged 18 to 24 saying they would be willing to wear a wearable device if a company paid for it, which suggests that workforces may also be divided along generational lines. To convince employees and stakeholders, businesses are going have to be able to provide firm reassurances about the way in which data harvested through the program will be used and, most importantly, secured.

At the end of the day, the use of wearable tech in business should be about promoting wellbeing; achieve this and employee loyalty and productivity will follow. That’s also why it’s so important to address the criticisms and concerns. After all, any scheme that’s resented by employees is doomed from the off. Employees need to be able trust employers to handle their data ethically and securely.

If a scheme is smart and secure, then, fitness trackers can be a simple and effective way of improving health, productivity and general wellbeing.

By George Foot

CloudTweaks Comics
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Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Success for Today’s CMOs Being a CMO is an exhilarating experience – it’s a lot like running a triathlon and then following it with a base jump. Not only do you play an active role in building a company and brand, but the decisions you make have direct impact on the company’s business outcomes for…

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Three Factors For Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy

Choosing Your Long-term Cloud Strategy A few weeks ago I visited the global headquarters of a large multi-national company to discuss cloud strategy with the CIO. I arrived 30 minutes early and took a tour of the area where the marketing team showcased their award winning brands. I was impressed by the digital marketing strategy…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…