On Pervasive Encryption and GDPR


How much of your personal data is encrypted? Is your hard drive encrypted? Do you know? Only if you caught WannaCry, am I right?

How about your corporate data? Is that encrypted? Do you know? How would you go about finding out?

Should you care?

We spend so much time on the Internet these days that we seem to assume wire encryption is all that we need. We’ll just encrypt the connections and everything will be find. Hey look dad – HTTPS – we’re all good!

But enterprises in mature industries have this annoying thing called “regulation”, which means you have to worry about “audits” and “controls”. Sometimes regulations even affect startups – no really, it’s true.

25th May 2018 a doozy comes into effect – GDPR, which will cover any organisation handling personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the company is located. Organisations are going to have a legal responsibility to do some annoying and expensive things, like inform customers there has been a breach of customer information within 72 hours. They will need to maintain “state of the art” controls. They will need to be able to provide an electronic record of the data they hold on citizen. GDPR also enshrines right to be forgotten – with data erasure if someone wants you to delete a record about them. It’s going to be Silicon Valley’s favourite.

But enterprises are generally more used to this kind of stuff. GDPR is going be the biggest market for IT controls since Sarbanes Oxley came in. It’s hard to say whether it will be any more effective, but that’s not the point. The EU is making a market.

So why bother? The most serious violations could apparently result in fines of up to €20 million or 4 per cent of turnover (whichever is greater). Note- WHICHEVER IS GREATER!

Obviously one way to avoid damaging breaches is to encrypt everything. With that in mind today IBM announced “Pervasive Encryption” as part of it’s Z14 mainframe launch. Mainframes uh, right? I think I can hear your eyes rolling. But mainframes are still the most solid platform for data management, and they happen to be a place where most Fortune 500 companies keep a significant amount of transaction data – that is, customer information. IBM is telling mainframe customers they can take significant strides to being more secure with an upgrade. It has significantly upgraded its cryptographic processors, and worked out pricing models to make overheads not punitive.

For some companies they might look at GDPR, and think “I know let’s use GDPR as an excuse to replatform all our data somewhere else instead”. Except that would obviously be insane.

So IBM has a pretty solid sales pitch for its new boxes, when it comes to circling the wagons. Will organisations decide to move data back onto the mainframe, to manage it more effectively under GDPR though? Less likely but not an impossible scenario.

Centralisation is definitely one approach that can make data management easier. IBM coined another neat phrase to talk about the regs – “data is the perimeter”.

As I pointed out the other day, Google expects GDPR to accelerate corporate adoption of the cloud – centralisation again. All the cloud providers see GDPR as an opportunity. Oracle is going to be in there. Compliance is always a great sales tool for technology. Microsoft is making play too.

What else did IBM talk about at the Z14 launch? It also announced some machine learning stuff (without the usual Watson hooplah). It said it could run open workloads faster than x86 (less relevant in the age of the cloud). I was expecting a blockchain onslaught, but actually there wasn’t so much of that. So a clear message.



disclaimer: Google, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are all clients.

(Read this and other great posts  @ RedMonk)

We need to talk about data science skills. Real talk about AI, deep and machine learning

Saw this story after it was tweeted by Puni Rajah  – Bosch to invest 300m euros in AI, employ 100 experts from India, USA, Germany. As ever India has done great job building its native skills base. But the fact Bosch needs to look outside Germany is telling. We’re seeing a lot of pressure owing to skills shortages, and companies, countries and cities everywhere are going to need to up their game to avoid brain drain. Silicon Valley is still the main place data scientists, in particular machine learning and AI specialists, are ending up.

Pierre Etienne Bardin of Société Générale expressed the need to be more active in hiring and training succinctly in a recent post on data transformation as the new digital transformation.

“You can’t wait for experts to come to you. They won’t come unless you’re Google or Facebook.”

Yesterday James Kisner, an equity analyst at global investment banking firm Jefferies, said that “IBM Appears Outgunned in the Talent War.” Part of his argument rests on IBM having fewer open positions for ML than competitors on Not the most scientific methodology. To Bardin’s point Silicon Valley firms have a halo, and the fact they’re held to very different standards by equities analysts means they can spend a lot more on compensation. Frankly if you had the chance to work with Dr Fei Fei Li at Google you’d be crazy to turn it down. Unless of course, you didn’t want to move to the USA, or even to the West Coast. Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh is another centre of excellence.

That said, let’s get real. The enterprise is hardly ready for big data, let alone AI/ML. The data transformation is in its very early days. This isn’t the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it may just be the end of the beginning. Google and Facebook are making money with machine learning, not for machine learning. So far the model is kind of similar to open source in that respect – Web companies are making money with open source.

It seems unfair (though of course them’s the breaks) to mark IBM down for consulting engagements with its customers to help them understand and realise the value of data science, training models and so on, given its competitors aren’t selling services to do that. Maybe Kisner knows something I don’t about someone selling AI/ML, in terms of revenues.

Before going back to the skills shortage a couple of conversations with IBM and Google recently are worth noting, with respect to the AI/ML market.

A few weeks back I met with Rob Thomas, General Manager, IBM Analytics. He said something kind of powerful. He said he wasn’t so interested in talking about AI/ML/Cognitive with Watson clients, but rather “decision systems”, because that was where the value was. Using IT to drive better decision-making. AI as augmented intelligence.

It would be easy to scoff that this was IBM’s problem, but we had almost exactly the same conversation with Google a couple of days ago, at the launch of their London data centre.

An analyst from another firm asked what they felt Google’s key competitive differentiator was – something they could explain to “Joe Bloggs on the street”? He said he thought the Google advantage was machine learning. But neither Tariq Shaukat, who heads up the Google Cloud Platform customer team, or Ben Treynor Sloss, VP of Engineering, agreed. They said they were cautious about trying to explain that as an advantage. Google was good at using ML, but it might not be the best idea to lead with it as a message, because frankly it’s hard to explain.

In the long term, yes. We’re at a significant inflection point. As Sloss put it:

“Cloud is going to change how things are built. AI is going to change what things are built.”

But for now this stuff is hard to explain and the customer isn’t ready.

After all, If we can’t hire people to use the tools, what’s the point of leading with a technology story? The UK has done pretty well lately in being seen as an AI/ML leader. The country’s universities, notably Cambridge, have been doing a sterling job of seeding the market, leading to acquisitions. Google acquired DeepMind, which in turn acquired Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory. It’s not clear whether the Brexit shitshow will leads people elsewhere, but computer science at least for now is in pretty good shape in the UK.

Tel Aviv is another market rich in AI talent. Apple acquired RealFace there.

If AI/ML is going to a be source of competitive advantage, then the skills to deliver it are going to be at a significant premium. We need better online learning, more university courses, better funding, and a clear understanding that skills will be the difference. The irony of machine learning is that we need better human learning and teaching to take advantage of it.

Finally I’d like to introduce Ivan Beckley. He’s smart, driven, studying medicine, and wants to study data science at UCL for a year. He’s also black, looking for sponsors for the course, and I am looking to help him. If you’d like to improve the skills pipeline in groups that are under-represented in tech, Ivan would love to hear from you. He’s prepared to collaborate on his research agenda, and work as an intern with you in Summer 2018 if you’d like to sponsor his course. Let me know. You won’t find anyone brighter or more hard-working to collaborate with. This is his post about joining us at Thingmonk as a diversity scholar.

We all need to invest in data science skills. Let’s start with Ivan.

(Read this and other great posts  @ RedMonk)

Truth and Lies About Cold Calls, Cold Emails, and Advertising

Doing a lot of cold calling, cold emailing, and advertising?

The trouble with blogging is you’re always in the middle of the discussion.  There’s not time to lay out the story right from the beginning to get everyone on the same page.

Take the subject of cold calls, cold, emails, advertising, and outbound marketing in general.  Personally, I don’t think businesses should waste a dime on any of it.  It’s a revolutionary thought, I know, because so many businesses make those avenues their primary means of marketing.

But Outbound is so terribly flawed and inefficient.

Actually, it isn’t all that revolutionary, as many are realizing the truth of it.  Way back in 2008, marketing expert Seth Godin was saying:

Content Marketing is the only marketing left.

As we will see, Content Marketing is just another term for Inbound Marketing.

Recently, I was answering a Quora question about cold emails.  The question was all about what the best tactics were for using them.  A bunch of authorities weighed in with advice about creating subject lines to get people to open then, making your you give value in the message, yada, yada, ho, hum…


I couldn’t take it.  My answer was all about telling the audience to quit wasting their time on cold emails at all.  Forget optimizing them, why do it?

Let’s use cold emails as our petri dish for talking about outbound marketing.  in this post, because convincing you not to waste your time and money on it (except in very special circumstances where you have no choice) is something I believe in deeply.

Here’s why:

No matter how hard you work on your subject line, your cold email is an unwelcome party crasher in your recipient’s mailbox. The vast majority of them will never read the email.

But even if you can craft a subject line that gets a great open rate, what next?

FastCompany writes that after getting a fantastic open rate on their cold email experiment, only 1.7% bothered to click and take further action.

That’s right—only 12 out of the 1000 they sent emails to bothered to take action.

Only 12 out of 1000 did anything with the cold emails…

It gets worse though. Many recipients will consider your cold email to be spam. After all, they didn’t opt into it or ask for it. And it’s oh so easy for them to mark it as spam.

Also, many ISP’s watch what happens to email to determine if they are spam. If a particular sender has low enough open rates, they may blacklist them as spammers, particularly if many recipients are calling the messages out as spam.

You can destroy your online emailing reputation in a hurry with cold emails if you’re not careful.  Suddenly, all your emails, not just the cold ones, can start ending up in the spam folder.

Not only is the upside limited with cold emails, but there’s a big downside too.

So why do firms still send so many cold emails?

Lots of reasons:

  • Because they can and it’s cheap
  • Because there’s a certain badge of Old School Honor in Cold Calling that carries over
  • Because they’re desperate for leads

But here’s the thing—you’ve got a zero sum game here. You’ve got one budget. You need to make every lead generation dollar count. So why waste any of it on a tactic that has such a low likelihood of success?

Why waste any money on a tactic with such a low likelihood of success?

By now you’re thinking, we’ve always done this, we have to get our leads somewhere, so what’s the alternative?

For me, this is just a very specific part of the whole inbound vs outbound marketing question.

Outbound is all about advertising, cold calling, cold emailing, and generally knocking on doors uninvited. Inbound is all about dangling bait in the form of content that potential prospects search for.

They are “inbound” to your company rather than you being “outbound” to their door. They come willingly rather than having to be beaten into submission by the unbearable din of endless ads and marketing campaigns.

Here’s the important thing most experts agree on:

Inbound marketing is cheaper and has a higher ROI than outbound marketing.

There are a lot of numbers floating around out there, but one source I tracked down says that Inbound leads are 62% cheaper than Outbound.

Getting back to that zero sum budget, why spend dollars on one method of lead generation when you can get 62% more sales using another method?

Here’s another way to think about it?

Which method do real marketing experts choose to market their own businesses?

It’s one thing to spend a whole bunch of the client’s money doing what they want to make them happy. But it’s another thing entirely when it’s your own money.

I have done some deep analysis on the marketing tactics of a group of marketers I call the Top 15 Master Marketers of the Digital World. These are some of the top people that tell us how marketing is done.

Here’s where they’re getting their leads:

Almost no advertising!

Notice what a tiny percentage is coming from outbound advertising. Email is quite a bit better, but the vast majority of that email isn’t cold emailing. It’s warm emails to folks who have willingly joined their email lists.

Most of the traffic is coming from Search. That’s right, they’re doing classic Inbound marketing. They write great content that helps people find the answers to questions they’re searching for.

If you’d like to learn more about the tactics of these master marketers, check out my article here:

Marketing Master Profiles [Guide to the World’s Best Marketers]

Let me give you a personal anecdote about how effective Inbound Marketing can be. I’ve used it across multiple startups and it has always worked well. But it is the cornerstone marketing strategy of my current business, which is called CNCCookbook.

This is a B2B business selling to CNC Manufacturers. My customer list reads like a who’s who of leading manufacturers:

My web site gets over 4 million visits a year from this audience, making it one of the top destination sites for my audience.

Keep in mind, I compete with very large companies for that attention. Some of them are even public companies. I even compete with an online television show aimed at this audience. It’s a reality TV show called Titans of CNC.

Guess what?

My site gets more traffic than Titans does.

In fact, I wrote an article not too long ago about how my site gets more traffic than one Venture Capitalist’s best startups.

My point is not to brag, but to educate. I am generating all that traffic all by myself. That’s right—CNCCookbook produces a very large income for me and I’m a solopreneur. I write our software, do our customer service, and I do all the marketing.

It’s just me, and I’m beating public and private companies with large marketing staffs and millions of dollars in marketing budget.

All because I don’t waste any time on outbound. Every minute I have available is invested in creating great content that my audience loves.

Instead of planning your next cold email campaign or cold calling blitz, you might want to consider ramping up your own Inbound Marketing efforts.

If this article resonated and you’d like more just like it, sign up for our Entrepreneur’s Newsletter.  You’ll receive a free mini-course Work Smarter and Get Things Done. It teaches you how to maximize your productivity so you can get everything you need to do for your business done.  It even includes our free productivity software to get you organized, focused, and productive.

(Cross-posted @ Bob Warfield)

Where’s the ROI in your CRM? It’s in the process.

I’m down to the last chapter of The Commonwealth of Self Interest: Customer Engagement, Business Benefit and then have some editing to do. But I want to make sure that you keep getting some good reading in while I finish this. A couple of months ago at CRM Magazine’s CRM Evolution Conference, I ran across a guy named Brian Gardner who was speaking on sales process at the event. I loved what he was saying about it and I thought, “hmmm, it would be smart to get this guy in front of the people who read my stuff so they can either learn something about how to think about contemporary sales process OR if they are among my super rock star type readers, get a refresher course from a guy who just knows. Brian not only can write but he’s got some cred: He’s the founder and lead evangelist of SalesProcess360, which helps companies get ROI from CRM. He is also the author of ROI from CRM: It’s About Sales Process, Not Just Technology, available from and Amazon. Brian’s got more than 25 years in sales management and CRM.
One thing, though: What he calls CRM is what I call Sales Process Automation (SFA). My CRM has three pillars — sales, marketing, customer service. Since most of you know that about me, know that what he is referring to in my vernacular is SFA.

Take it away, my good man!

CRM is Not a Four-Letter Word

Why after the past 18 years of working with companies on CRM does it still feel like CRM is considered a four-letter word? It is often viewed as a curse throughout a company…

  • Outside sales (“Big Brother is going to micro-manage me.”)
  • Inside sales (“I don’t have time to log information into this other system.”)
  • Management (“I know I need this but I am tired of fighting the team to get them to use it.”)
  • Marketing (“If only I could be tied to the sales team with the system…”)
  • IT (“It’s just another system to manage.”)

When I give talks on CRM and sales process, I usually start off with two simple questions.

The first: “Who is using a CRM system?” On average 70 to 80 percent of the hands go up. I then say: “Now leave your hand up if you feel like you or your company is getting ROI from CRM.” Every time just 10 to 15 percent of the hands stay raised.

So the big question is: Why do so few companies feel like they are getting so little ROI from CRM?

In my humble opinion, there are three primary reasons that ROI from CRM number is so low.

1. IT is driving the bus.

As mentioned earlier, I have been around CRM for more than 18 years. My story: I was managing a sales team back in the 90’s and wanted to use technology to help manage the sales process within our company. I looked for solutions; every company that came into my office didn’t have a clue about my company’s processes and only wanted to sell me technology. I said no thank you and wound up developing a CRM system with a partner. I was the sales side of the CRM equation and he was the technical side. It was a match made in heaven. I took all of my sales needs that were being done manually via Excel, Access and contact management, and we built a sales-focused CRM (SFA at that time) system.

I am a believer that CRM should start with process, not technology. One of the main reasons only 10 percent of the hands stay up when I ask who feels they are getting ROI from CRM is because process isn’t a priority. Because of this, I feel the CRM bus should not be driven by the technical team. Sure, they need to be on the bus. But they shouldn’t be driving it. Sales — and in particular sales management — should be at the wheel. This is where a lot of companies fall short.

Step back and evaluate your company’s situation. If sales management is not driving the bus, this may be a reason the company is not getting the full ROI from CRM.

2. The focus is on the technology, and not the underlying sales process.

I believe CRM can be a company’s competitive edge if implemented properly. What is your competitive edge? Did you answer your people, products/services, experience, support or dedication? Your competition probably did, as well.

So what truly gives your company a competitive edge? I believe it is how you execute on the processes. I use the analogy of three-legged stool, which needs all three legs to stand. Your company needs three things to compete effectively:

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Technology

CRM is obviously one of the components that make up the technology leg, but the missing link that I see is the process leg. Many companies have not reviewed their sales processes, identifying the gaps and inefficiencies and leveraging CRM to fill these gaps.

Let’s break it down a little further. What I find (and what I was doing when I started in sales management) is that most companies have processes for the back end of their business — quotes and orders — but not the front end. The front end — leads and opportunities — is where CRM plays and if done properly can bring ROI and a competitive edge. A picture is worth a thousand words:


If we linearize the sales cycle and graded our company on the processes, visibility and efficiencies at each step, how would we do?



Typically the scores are strongest on the right (orders), weakening as they move to the left (leads). I say this with personal experience; this is how our company looked before we started to leverage CRM.

The goal we had when I started CRM in our company was to earn a high score at each stage of the sales cycle. I believe that if your company can improve the processes, visibility and efficiencies at the front end of the sales cycle and use CRM to manage this, you can get ROI from CRM. This is how CRM can provide a competitive edge. The best part? You can control this.

The economy does not determine how well you do this. Going forward, when I ask “What is your company’s competitive edge?” your answer will be:

  • Our People
  • Our Processes
  • Our Technology

3. It’s not positioned as a team solution.

I like challenging my audience. If you are on CRM — per my polling 70 to 80 percent are — do you believe you are using CRM for team selling? I am a big fan of team selling. I believe that CRM is the hub for team selling; this can be another area for a competitive edge.

I frequently ask my audiences what team selling means to them. I’m sure your answers would be the same as what I typically get:

  • Working together
  • Working as one
  • Being on the same page
  • Sharing information

These aren’t wrong, but let’s take them a step further.

My definition for team selling is:

Sharing and leveraging information for a competitive edge.

I believe leveraging is the key. This is where CRM comes in. CRM was built for sharing and leveraging information as a team. When I say team, I mean all touchpoints within your company and both external and internal customers.

Let’s dive into this. External customers are easy; they are the companies that purchase your products or services. Let’s talk about internal customers.

I frequently ask which departments are on CRM. The most obvious answer is the outside sales team. Great, but what about all the other departments? How are you sharing and leveraging the touchpoints that everyone on your team is having with both external and internal customers?

List all the departments that communicate. Here are some examples:

  • Outside Sales to Inside Sales (both ways)
  • Inside Sales to Accounting (both ways)
  • Marketing to Outside Sales (both ways)
  • Inside Sales to Marketing
  • Operations to Everyone
  • Management to Everyone

CRM can be the hub for this sharing and leveraging information.



Think about the value of this.

You have inside sales logging all their key touchpoints with external customers. The outside salesperson walks into the customer’s office and has this information at their fingertips in CRM. “Mr. Customer I see you talked to our inside salesperson yesterday about XYZ. I brought a solution that might help.”

Marketing is sending out a rifle-focused content email. You have integrated marketing and sales in CRM with closed-loop marketing. The customer’s response to the marketing piece is captured in CRM. Before walking into the customer’s office, an outside salesperson looks up his marketing score and how he has engaged. He downloaded a whitepaper on one of your products. That salesperson now know exactly what to talk to the customer about.

The Service Department logs their interaction with a customer via field service report or service phone call into CRM. They document a summary of the issue and action items to resolve. The outside salesperson looks up the touchpoints with the customer and sees the service log. As a result, he walks in armed with the right information; he’s not blindsided not knowing this service call happened.

All three of these are great examples of sharing and leveraging information to gain a competitive edge?

My Experience

CRM doesn’t need to be viewed as a four-letter word. If approached properly, these three areas of focus will allow you to keep your hand raised when I ask: “Who here feels they are getting ROI from CRM?”

I leave you with this quick story. My company focused on these three areas back in the late 90’s:

  1. Sales Management Driving the CRM Bus
  2. Putting Processes on the Front End of the Sales Cycle
  3. Sharing and Leveraging Information Across the Team

By focusing on these three areas supported by CRM, we tripled our business in a little over six years with all organic growth. I will go to my grave believing we did that because we focused on mastering and excelling at these three areas. We did not try to do too much with CRM in the beginning. We lived by the saying “Start Slow and Grow.”

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I hope it got you thinking and motivated you to look deeper into how you are using CRM. If you have not embarked on the CRM journey yet, these areas will help you navigate and remove the speed bumps for success and truly get ROI from CRM.

(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Social CRM: The Conversation)