This year has had a lot of twists and turns, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll take on the last quarter of 2020 stronger than ever before. We’re not ones to get comfortable in where we are. Working in tech, you have to constantly evolve, and sometimes that’s asking the tough questions. Sometimes answers lead us to being as efficient as possible in order to be the supportive foundation and the experts that the affiliates need.
I am and will continue to be very proud to represent this organization. We have accomplished so much, and you make it easy for me to show up each day with gratitude. I’m grateful for your perseverance, camaraderie within teams and across departments, and an unwavering willingness to learn. Last month’s All Hands showed us just that. It was great to see just how far we’ve come and how our continued alignment allows us to set achievable goals for the future.
Now let’s get into what you all accomplished last month.
Thank you to those who were able to join us for last month’s All Hands, it was certainly one for the books! In case you missed it, you can watch the recording here.
The Westech Marketing Cloud (WMC) app is making progress! Watch this quick and informative WMC App Video to learn more about it.
LEAD GEN | The Lead Gen product is available to use, with several affiliates already getting comfortable creating Efforts, Creatives, and Journeys. If you have any questions or would like access, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and he can get you set up.
ECOMM | The eCommerce components are in development and will be available in the 4th quarter. If you are interested in being an early adopter for eCommerce, please reach out to email@example.com
Here are the priorities for the rest of this year for the WesTech Marketing Cloud. If you have any questions on the following initiatives, please reach out to me directly.
– Judy Bluhm, Platform for User-Centric Marketing Applications Product Manager
You may have already received an email from Sarah Smiley this week, but we wanted to inform you that the PUMA team will be performing necessary maintenance to the OPIUM application and database on Saturday, September 26 at 3:00 AM ET. The scheduled downtime will last approximately two hours, during which time both the OPIUM application and order forms will be inaccessible. There will be no impact to any of our other applications or reporting during this time.
PLANNED WORK | This maintenance includes critical security patches to both the OPIUM application and database for increased performance, security and stability. This maintenance is necessary to ensure we are able to serve the best possible experience to our users, and continue to meet the security standards that are expected of our system applications at WesTech.
The entire PUMA team will be monitoring OPIUM and all of our other applications very closely during this timeframe to ensure orders are taken and processed once the system is back up. Please report any issues to Support so our teams can investigate.
Thank you again to the Business Partners over at APSI for inviting us to their first Affiliate Spotlight Series with CEO of Inversor Global, Eugenio Ianni. This is an integral insider’s perspective of what happens behind the scenes at a financial publication outside of the US. Watch his presentation here. If you have issues viewing, please reach out to Kris Bezbailis.
We also played virtual host to Aaron DeHoog, Publisher at Banyan Hill earlier last month where he revealed their secret to writing breakthrough promos and much more. Even if you don’t see yourself as a writer, you will find Aaron’s presentation incredibly valuable. Watch it here.
QUICK NOTE | Aaron also wanted us to pass along the correct quote from Craig Groeschel: People would rather follow a leader who is always real rather than a leader who is always right.” His podcast can be found here.
Last month, we officially reached 1 billion mailings sent through Blueshift (as of right now, we are at 1.22 billion). This was a largely collaborative effort thanks to the Newshift and supporting Product teams for building out its functionality and the teams who worked with our users for adoption and support.
Intelligent automation has been an ultimate goal for Michael Bresler and the Strategic Solutions and Automation team. With its help, we can catch mistakes earlier and better strategize for the future.
If you’d like to know more about intelligent automation or robotic processes, there is now an Intelligent Automation workspace on Evolve where you can learn anything from the basics, how to spot opportunities for bots in your workflow, and much more. If you have any questions on bots and automation, reach out to Michael here.
Last month, I sent a message regarding how the 14 West Support team is handling incident response and let you know what you can expect from us when you-know-what hits the fan with one of our systems.
Whether it’s Advantage, IRIS, OPIUM, FunnelCake, Blueshift, Signup App, Message Central, Middleware, Spine, Data & Analytics (formerly BI), and IT, you will get a communication from “firstname.lastname@example.org” which is sent through our incident management application, StatusPage. What’s really great about StatusPage is that you can get a quick glimpse of our systems health dashboard that shows the current and historic health of the applications. If you haven’t done so already, please check it out here and subscribe to updates if needed.
If you have any questions regarding Support or StatusPage, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
– Tony Browne, Director of Support
Mavenlink, the new Project Portfolio Management tool, is finally here. Since March, the EPMO team has been working (with help from many of you) to implement Mavenlink and integrate with both NetSuite and Jira to improve the holistic management of Intake, Resource/Capacity planning, Project Management and Project Reporting across the organization.
Up until now, the organization has lacked a single and consistently used tool with the ability to properly manage resources, produce project level accounting, forecast, and report all in a centralized system.
Click here to watch the Video.
TRAININGS | To help ease into the integration, we have started to begin training sessions with Project Managers. Training will continue through mid-September and grouped by roles and functionality within Mavenlink.
You’ll be at the top of the list to receive training if you’re a…
Trainings will be conducted through many formats such as live webinars with the Mavenlink team, live training sessions with the Mavenlink and 14W team, demonstration groups, short video series, and more.
Keep an eye for updates and invites on trainings coming soon! For any questions, please reach out to email@example.com.
In our latest Lytics Huddle, Dillon Paul, Senior Product Manager, and Mark Hayden, VP of Product Management, from Lytics shared their Product Roadmap for the remainder of 2020.
In this huddle, they offered a sneak peek into the major product updates and design changes that are scheduled to be released later this year and early next year. If you’re interested in their vision for the future of Lytics, improvements to the workflow of the application, and more, please watch the recording here.
As always, if you have any questions about Lytics or would like to check the application out for yourself, please reach out to the Customer Intelligence team!
Here’s a term you probably haven’t heard about yet: spear-phishing. They’re targeted attacks that are typically more advanced and can be personalized in an effort to dupe the users into believing that they are reading legitimate messages.
Spear-phishing attempts come into our environment every day, and many of you have also seen them. The most common – and most dangerous – are impersonation attempts, where an attacker will use a random email address (i.e. a name with random numbers @gmail.com or @outlook.com), change their display name (friendly from) to someone in the organization, and send a standard email with a greeting and small request. Some could ask for a cell number, changing direct deposit information in Ulti-Pro, or requesting gift cards to be purchased for co-workers or clients. Since most us only notice the name of the sender, it’s easy to miss that the email address. Here’s an example with the display name highlighted (note the email address to the right of it):
As we can see in this message, there’s a number of things that lead us to believe this is not a legit request:
As with all emails you receive, always be aware that there’s a possibility it may not be from who it says it’s from. Spend an extra minute or two to investigate the email, using the above as an example, to determine if the communication is safe. If you notice that it is, in fact, a malicious attempt, then do not click anything in the email and do not reply. Immediately report the message using the Phish Alert button in your email client or forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can investigate the origin and assign blocks through Mimecast.
If you have any questions regarding this information or would like you or your team to have a formal training on these possible attacks, please let us know and we will be happy to set it up!
– Steve Graziano, Sr. InfoSec Engineer
In an effort to reduce chargebacks for subscription-related charges originating from free and limited trials, Visa and MasterCard released a mandate that provides more clear information to consumers and helps merchants fight against chargebacks that occur.
TYPES OF OFFERS AFFECTED | These are introductory offers and free trials which include bundle offers, offering premiums of components in packages, and book offers.
WHY CHANGE IS NEEDED | It is important for each business to adopt this mandate and make changes not only to be compliant with the card brands, but to lessen the chargeback rate and help with friendly fraud. This helps our ability to represent and win chargebacks, avoid class action lawsuits, and also provides optimal customer service by helping customers understand what they are signing up for from the start with ample communication on how to cancel.
EPP (Electronic Payment Processing team) is working closely with the affiliates and internal 14 West teams to ensure all needed changes are made. The majority of the changes required for this mandate is revolve around communication.
After working with Vantiv and Visa, we were able to get an extension to be compliant by mid- October, 2020. Vantiv also approved the notion that we don’t have to make changes to any of our e-comm systems that are sunsetting at the end of 2020. Everyone involved has been working diligently to meet our mid-October deadline and we look forward to implementing this mandate across the organization! If you have any questions about this mandate, please reach out to me directly.
– Elizabeth Cammack, Business Operations Analyst, FinTech
We have quite a few newbies who have joined the WesTech family this past month! Please help us make them feel at home… even though it’s virtual.
Eric Olsson | Managing Director, Data & Analytics
Eric is the newest member of the D&A team who is excited to be a part of the future vision of our data and analytics platform and architecture. He’s an avid kayaker and hiker who enjoys cooking, spending time with his family, and going on walks with his dogs.
Loic Masson | Senior Data Developer, Data & Analytics
Loic will be joining Eric Olsson’s team as a member of the D&A team and has already hit the ground running to help the department modernize its technological infrastructure. In his downtime, he creates with his 3D printer, codes mobile apps, and surfs when he gets the chance.
Josh North | Senior Business Process Analyst, Strategic Solutions & Intelligent Automation
Josh is joining Michael Bresler as his right-hand man, and is most excited about the uncharted landscape this team can do while leaving his imprint. When he’s out of the virtual office, he enjoys golfing, fishing, and crabbing.
You haven’t heard from me as much in the last few weeks as you did earlier in the pandemic. I’ve taken a step back to spend more time observing and listening. When it comes down to it, you’re figuring out the solutions, building them, fixing them, supporting users – you’re making things work. Seeing the progress and level of collaboration between our teams over the past few months, and especially recently, has made me really proud and confident that we can and will continue to weather whatever storms (or pandemics) come our way in the future.
We have a lot to look forward to in this second half of the year, and we’ll dig into a lot of that in our quarterly at the end of the month. I hope you can all join us.
Now let’s take a look at what you accomplished last month.
IN THIS EDITION
Q2 ALL HANDS | SURVEY
Although we have all gotten really good at presenting virtually, we don’t want our upcoming All Hands to be just PowerPoints and Q&A’s. So, we’re doing something a little different this time.
SUPERLATIVES | Make sure to get your votes in by Monday, August 17! Click here to fill out the Form. Just as a reminder, winners of each Superlative will get a prize and there will be a random drawing for those who participate as well.
HAPPY HOURS | Next week, we will be running short happy hours to get your thoughts on how things have changed for you now that we’re working remote. We’ve developed some questions to get things going, and your answers may be featured during the All Hands! Reach out to Tina if you’d like to be added onto one of the happy hours.
INTRODUCING TRACKY | OUR DYNAMIC TRACK RECORD BOT
The votes (quickly) came in late last week, so we’d like to formally introduce you all to Tracky, our Track Record bot created by the GPS team. This powerful bot can manage the entire track record process by seamlessly doing the following:
If you’d like to see Tracky in action, you can check out a demo of the bot entering a trade into Portfolio Tracker here. Currently, we run track record support for Money Map Press, but plan to roll this out to other clients in the near future. Thank you to everyone who weighed in and helped us name our first bot!
– Tori Longo, Global Portfolio Services Product Owner
HOW TO REALLY PERSONALIZE YOUR CUSTOMER’S JOURNEY
The Customer Intelligence hosted two Lytics Huddles last month covering just about everything you need to get started and use Journey Canvas (formerly Orchestrate). This journey-building feature allows you to deliver personalized marketing across channels without overlapping your targeting.
PART ONE | Craig Schinn, from Actable, and Oxford Club’s TJ Tate present how Oxford Club uses the Journey Canvas feature. This is a good example if you want to see Lytics in action and to get the full scope of how to use Journey Canvas to your full advantage. Watch the recording here.
PART TWO | In this second journey-building installment, Craig dives deep into Journeys and their capability with Kim Toomey from Lytics. You will get an excellent walkthrough into the system and best practices when using the tool. Watch the recording here.
If you have any questions about Journey Canvas or getting started with Lytics, please reach out to the Customer Intelligence team here.
The Planning and L&D teams have partnered together to create an Evolve workspace full of self-taught training resources regarding OKRs and Weekdone. Access the workspace for guidance or a refresher of objectives and key results.
WHAT TO EXPECT
PUMA TEAM | WT MARKETING CLOUD UPDATES
LEAD-GEN | Beta testing has begun with NewMarket Group, Oxford Club, and Banyan Hill, as well as a demo of the product to Money Map. If you are interested in testing or going through a demo, please reach out to Matt Williams. You can read more about the MVP and Q3 priorities for Lead-Gen here.
E-COMM | We’ve put together the E-Comm MVP requirements after a great roundtable with Domestic businesses and are in the process of scheduling one with International affiliates. We’re planning to beta test with affiliates by September for features in the E-Comm MVP (except payment processing). We will develop and integrate payment processing as beta testing progresses, to give users time to get acclimated with WMC for creating order pages.
HELL YEAH | COACHING MODEL BOOSTS AFFILIATE CONFIDENCE
In an effort to provide targeted coaching and business insights for our affiliates when they dig into data, L&D’s Beth Oertel has been working with Bojo Bauer and the Customer Success team from Data & Analytics (formerly BI) to reshape the way they work with affiliates.
We’re happy to say this pivot has paid off and so far, we have been getting rave reviews from the affiliates as we used this new approach to help them build their own Lead Gen pinboards in ThoughtSpot. Immediate insights recognized through this approach has created a buzz of excitement and a feeling of confidence with the data in ThoughtSpot.
DATA: DRIVE WITH CONFIDENCE | NEW COURSE NOW AVAILABLE!
Our latest Data Literacy Awareness course will help you understand the importance of data literacy when it comes to your role within The Agora Companies. This interactive and exploratory course provides awareness of how data literacy impacts your role and sets expectations for a data literate workforce. We encourage everyone and anyone to enroll in the course in Evolve. Enroll directly from the Announcements page in Evolve.
For any questions is help accessing Evolve, please reach out to the L&D team here.
SKETCHY EMAIL? THERE’S AN APP (AND TEAM) FOR THAT
For as long as anyone can remember, emails have appeared in our mailboxes that we’ve either marked as spam into Junk E-Mail folders or deleted outright. They can range from annoying to potentially dangerous for users and the company as a whole. Our email security filtering system, Mimecast, keeps these emails out. However, the senders of these dangerous emails will always be looking for ways to circumvent mail filters.
No matter how good our defenses are, some will always slip through. That’s why we need to be prepared for when these cases arise by knowing what to look for and what we should be doing. We have a team who manages Information Security, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to understand how to report these emails and why.
SPAM VS. PHISHING
The first thing to recognize when receiving a message from an unknown external sender is whether the message is a “marketing” email (otherwise known as spam) or a phishing email with intentions of stealing information or compromising systems. Spam emails are not dangerous, just unwanted, and typically feature unsubscribe links to remove yourself from their lists. In the cases where an unsubscribe link is not present, or if they are requiring an email response to opt out of the lists, the best scenario is to block the sender through your preferred platform (Outlook, OWA, etc.) which will automatically send the messages to a junk email folder or deleted items.
PHISH ALERT PROCESS
Even with spam emails, there are cases where you see an email that appears suspicious and you don’t want to click anything in it (including unsubscribe links). For cases like this, we have had a system in place to report these emails to the InfoSec team. That system is known as the Phish Alert, which is located at the top of your received email messages. Here’s what happens once you click the Phish Alert button:
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT (OR JUST MORE PROACTIVE)
When you receive an email that you are suspicious of, the initial action should be to immediately report the message using the Phish Alert. This will notify the correct engineers on the InfoSec team quickly and ensure the issue is resolved.
Also, as you may have noticed at times during the year, we use the Phish Alert system to run simulated attacks. The best way to defend against attacks is to prepare our users with similar attacks and see how they respond. We are able to get full reports on clicks, responses, and many other categories so we can determine if further training is needed. While the simulations can be scary because everyone is receiving suspicious looking messages, they are nowhere near as scary as actual attacks that can hit all of our users within seconds.
UPCOMING TRAININGS AND WEBINARS
Our goal moving forward is to have everyone become more aware and mindful of the emails they are receiving. When something appears out of place or is obviously an attack, we will know exactly how to handle it. In the next month or two, the InfoSec team will be reaching out to all of the teams to setup virtual phishing webinars covering the information presented here, as well as more advanced techniques and examples. These webinars will be short but extensive, while offering time to ask as many questions as needed. If you would like to get a webinar setup immediately before we reach out, please contact the InfoSec team (email@example.com) and we will be happy to set something up! And, as always, please let us know if you have questions regarding the information provided here or processes moving forward.
FEEDBACK NEEDED | INTEGRATED PLANNING ROUND ONE
You may have heard from Kevin Woest recently on our Q3 Integrated Planning Sessions and how we’ve officially closed out our first time working to execute an enterprise-wide planning process. It was encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm and collaboration across teams to work towards one common goal. So if you were able participate in these sessions, it is crucial to get feedback (the good, bad, ugly, etc.) to allow us to create a stronger process.
Feel free to reach out to Kevin if you’d like to know more about these sessions and take part in the next round.
GETTING TO KNOW THE OKR COMMUNITY IN BALTIMORE
OKR Baltimore, an online community run by Think’s Jeff Welch, was created for those who use or are considering using Objectives and Key Results to help align their teams to top-priority business objectives. This group runs a virtual First Friday series that allows a guest speaker to share their knowledge and experience with OKRs as well as members to discuss and ask questions.
Jeff has been following along with Brian and WesTech’s OKR journey since we started last year, and due to our rapid progress incorporating OKRs, he wanted Brian to share our story. During the event, Brian was able to share 14 West’s OKR journey, adoption process, success stories, and solutions to our struggles throughout the process.
The focus of Brian’s presentation was how we are able to increase focus and navigate rapid change with OKRs within our workplace – from testing portions of OKRs in Q4, 2019 with a focus on two products… to fully rolling out OKRs in Q1, 2020, and navigating through the adoption process. Huge shifts in progress and alignment are due to hard work, creating integrated roadmaps and cross team dependency management processes.
Once we enter 2021 and beyond, we are set to enter the refinement process, where we will hope to operate in a silo-less environment with robust dependency management, continuous improvement each quarter, and begin to integrate OKR training to all onboarding processes. After Brian presented, the floor opened up for a Q&A session where the attendees were able to pick his brain.
The event was a home-run; the audience learned a great deal from Brian. Think even mailed a hard cover copy of Measure What Matters written by the OKR expert, John Doerr, to the attendees as a thank you.
ABOUT FIRST FRIDAY OKR-BALTIMORE | This group is designed for those interested in starting an OKR structure at their workplace and for like-minded OKR practitioners to get together and share experiences, tips and tricks on OKR usage at the workplace. It’s a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for all levels of OKR enthusiasts. If you are interested in joining the First Friday OKR-Baltimore discussion at 4 PM ET today, you can sign up here.
JULY AFFILIATE SPOTLIGHT SERIES | MONEY MAP PRESS
Last month, we welcomed Money Map’s Katie Melchor and Danni O’Dell to the latest edition of the Affiliate Spotlight Series. If you missed it, you can find the recording here.
On Tuesday, August 18, we will welcome Banyan Hill’s Aaron DeHoog to the virtual stage. Details are still being put together on what he’s going to cover, but since he asked for past presentations in an effort to “make the best one”, you might not want to miss it! If it’s slipped from your calendar, please reach out to Tina.
ALM OFFICE HOURS
The Learning & Development team wants to remind you that ALM Office Hours are back and have been poppin’ lately. If you want to become a Confluence or Jira pro and learn how to navigate these systems straight from the experts, you should consider joining a session.
They start at 1 PM ET every Friday. Join the Zoom here.
So where do we go from here? I know I’m not imagining that many of you are wondering this, and it keeps me up at night to know you’re uncertain. Right now, our focus is to do all we can to help you understand where we are going and why. Changes had to be made, and it never gets easier, but I want you to keep the faith. There is a plan in place for WesTech to weather the storms and to not only meet, but surpass industry standards for our businesses, their customers, and our own knowledge.
2020 has not been easy on us. We are still contending with Spamhaus, we’ve put more resources in place for CCPA and SMS compliance, to top it off we’re making needed tweaks to the Blueshift, Funnelcake, and IRIS + rollouts. These challenges as well as what IT, FinTech and the BI teams have to handle on a regular basis, I know it’s been diJcult to see the forest through the trees. We have to weather we storms. And we are.
Modernization is our main focus. It is not in our company’s best interest to invest in the wrong technology or repeatedly invest in the same technology that won’t work in the way we need it to.
Communication is a high priority for all of us so we will be talking about these changes together. Having the best and adaptable applications is sensible and needed in order to successfully keep up with the tech industry and have the foresight of what’s coming around the corner.
Expect to hear more from me in the coming weeks. And between now and then, just know that my door is open. I’m here if you need me.
But for now, here is what’s going on in your worlds.
IN THIS EDITION:
As you’ve already heard, we have made a strong commitment to serve the Baltimore community through volunteer work and will be scheduling an opportunity each month. For March we are partnering with Moveable Feast, whose mission is to deliver nutritious meals and groceries to those who are living with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses that would otherwise leave them without proper nourishment.
We’ve put together an opportunity for you to help this organization on Wednesday, March 18th from 12:00PM – 3:00PM. You can still register here and use the join code “14west.” Once you enter your personal information and accept the waiver, sign up for the 14 West event on March 18th on their calendar. If you have any questions on where to park, what to wear or any other concerns, please reach out to Jenny Realo.
You may have seen Michael Bresler’s writing featured in this newsletter before. We are happy to report that he has now been featured in the WestWord blog, where he discusses his thoughts on how to achieve success. This newsletter highlights the thought leaders at 14 West, and reaches an external audience, those who may even be a potential recruit someday. Read Michael’s essay in the latest edition of WestWord, and sign up to be on the list to receive later editions here.
Although I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend Agile Charm, it illuminated the redundancy of many Agile events. The lightning talks, live sketch-noting, and Agile games prompted me to unpack my values and experiences as an Agile practitioner, but didn’t inspire many “aha” moments for myself or other attendees I’ve spoken with.
Considering this was the inaugural event, I hope future Agile Charm events offer registrants the opportunity to weigh-in on the agenda, topics, and themes beforehand. Additionally, a variety of tracks for different challenges and/or roles would provide a custom-tailored experience that would leave attendees with more valuable takeaways.
A major takeaway for me was, “in order for a company to deliver truly outstanding products and services, it must embrace the messy complexity of human life, and endeavor to understand its customers as people. In other words, understand your customer as you understand yourself.” By aligning with this advice, Agile Charm could be the catalyst for a productive and much-needed community in Baltimore. I look forward to organizers offering a more fruitful event in the future.
– Capri Shorter, Scrum Master
Migrating each Agora business to an entirely new phone is no ordinary feat. Starting last week, the Network Engineering team has oJcially started the migration from Cisco to RingCentral by kicking things off with the oJces in Ireland.
As a quick note to remember: you may experience issues when dialing internally using the last 4 digits of the recipient’s phone number. In the interim, you may need dial the full 10-digit phone number until all teams have migrated over. After everyone is migrated over, you will be able to dial internally again by using a new 5-digit extension.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our Sr. Telecom Engineer, Cheryl Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, we’re excited to hear from Nate Hurd, Chief Growth OJcer for The Oxford Group for the latest AJliate Spotlight Series presentation. After 30 years of learning and evolving, 50K lifetime members is the Oxford Group’s primary goal, and you’ll learn why WesTech is an important partner in that mission. Nate will go into detail about their strategy in accomplishing this goal and how the projects we work on together translate into raving fan customers, which is the ultimate victory…
Seats in 1001 have already illed up, but you can still sign up here to watch remotely.
This month, we’re covering a seasonal phishing trend: performance reviews. These emails target all employees of a company and appear to be sent from the HR department, featuring general language that notiies the user of a pending or completed review and then provides a link to view the review. This link will then lead to a malicious login page asking for username, password and email address in an attempt to steal these credentials and use them to log into various services across the web. In some cases, the website will advise the user to wait for an email with further instructions or choose options for how to receive the performance appraisal.
Since our performance appraisal process involves UltiPro, any communications like this should only originate from that system or directly from managers or the OD team. If you receive a performance review email that appears suspicious, follow up with team members in a separate email or directly with HR to ensure the validity of the request. If it is conirmed that this is a phishing email, please report it like other suspicious emails using the Phish Alert button in Outlook.
For more information regarding this phishing scam, visit the Security Awareness Training Blog hosted by KnowBe4. Also, feel free to contact the Information Security team and we will be happy to answer any questions.
Last week was our inaugural Agora Hackathon — Ready Fire Hack . From this three day event, we can already see a strong partnership growing not only with Red Hat who facilitated, but also between the WesTech and Threefold teams. When tasked choosing one of the three given issues to solve, the groups blew the judges away with their solutions to the point that they needed a tie-breaker to pick the winners. In the end, it was Your Form, the team who chose to make long-form copy (an Agoran staple) more digestible for mobile who won everyone over.
Make sure you check out the Newsfeed Slack Channel to review the once-live coverage of what happened at the Hackathon. We will send the finished videos, presentations and slides once the ATB video team is done with edits.
Those who follow the Newsfeed Slack Channel are already aware of Felicia Muse and Tim Dodge’s successful presentations at the Advantage User Group conference (AUG) last week.
Felicia focused on how using the scripting feature can help optimize Advantage views for users and also reviewed how scripts can help create an eJcient data entry process. Tim presented on Workmow Events and how they’re used throughout Advantage. Due to their deep expertise of Advantage, both presenters were able to demo the interface and answer in-depth questions from the attendees. We’re happy to have such solid team members who not only run our applications, but represent us in the tech ield.
As the Blueshift and Global Portfolio Services teams grow more complex and expand their service offerings, they have been able to hand off their support function to the very capable hands of the WesTech Support team.
To now ask a question or get help with any issues for either products, you can simply raise a ticket by going through the JIRA Support Portal or by email. This is a much-needed transition for each team to both gain the ability to strengthen their areas of expertise and to further align across departments for closer collaboration.
Thank you to those brave enough who have joined the Wall Street Survivor Challenge so far, and for those who haven’t, you have until March 11th to register. We have seen some ups and downs based on market volatility, which has actually created more fun for us and better opportunity to see your portfolio move. As you might know, the contest will be running until April 17th so please reach out to me if you would still like to join. The winning team or individual will get bragging rights and a great prize. If you’re interested in the current leaderboard or have any questions, you can refer to our Wall Street Survivor Slack channel.
– Leonard Kardelis, Portfolio Compliance Analyst
We’d like to introduce you to our WesTech newbies who joined us in February. Make sure you send them a nice welcome and add them on LinkedIn!
Judy Bluhm | Product Manager, eCommerce & IRIS
Judy is ready to lead the teams who have built and support the eComm and IRIS platforms (i.e. OPIUM, Funnelcake, IRIS, and IRIS+). When she’s not at 1001 learning the ropes of our complex teams, she enjoys reading and playing golf in her downtime. Connect with Judy here.
Kelly Nandi | Business Intelligence Analyst, Marketing Intelligence team
Kelly is excited to take on the reporting system, QlikSense and welcomes the opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. She is a University of Maryland grad and one of her hobbies is to crochet. Connect with Kelly here.
Wale Akanni | Senior Data Engineer, Data Engineering team
Wale will be digging into everything Advantage and is excited to be working within the Data Engineering team. With a background in Computer Science, we think he’s found the right team and projects to be on. Connect with Wale here.
Before we break for a long holiday weekend, I want you to know that the amount of hard work you’ve been putting in over the last quarter is not lost on me. And I really hope you take this time to relax.
And just after the holiday is July 6 – the first day of our first phase in returning to the office. As hard as it’s been at times, I’ve got to admit I think we’ve learned and grown a lot because of the pandemic and our shift to a remote workplace. For me personally, becoming a better communicator was something I desperately wanted to focus on but struggled to. The pandemic sure changed that fast… that and plenty of other things. And I’m sure more change will come over the next several weeks and months. So please continue to come to me with any questions or concerns you have. My door (whether it be virtual or physical!) is always open.
Now let’s get to what you all have accomplished last month.
As we continue to pursue opportunities to improve processes and operate more efficiently, we’re working to streamline some of our everyday Accounting tasks by absorbing them under the Planning & Business Performance team. A few members of the PBP team have been working with the Accounting team to get trained with the goal to transition a few basic responsibilities by August. Functions and tasks that are best left with the Accounting team, will of course stay there.
Accounting Tasks to be Transitioned to Danni and Brian:
It’s good to note that when the time comes for the switch to become “official,” all invoices and approvals will still be sent to email@example.com. And 14 West Accounts Payable (firstname.lastname@example.org) will still be responsible for payment processing,
You’ll receive a friendly reminder and some additional details on this as we get closer to August. In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Brian Scheeler.
We’ve all done this. Sometimes you find an app that seems to be user-friendly, ties into your workflow nicely, and may even be free to use. And if it’s not free, you may even get your manager’s buy-in so that your team can use the tool. These are called “Shadow Apps,” which means they are not supported by IT and InfoSec at the company.
Although shadow apps can improve productivity and collaboration with little or no financial cost to your team or company, there are risks involved. Most importantly, you’re keeping the teams who work to keep our systems secure (within IT and InfoSec) in the dark. These applications may not have the right secure procedures in place, they may be blocked from our systems, or could alter the other systems we depend on. In some cases, we may already have this application on our systems or have an application that has the same capabilities, but require a bit of training.
We want to make sure you have the right systems in place to get your job done, so when you find a new application or have been using a tool that we did not provide, feel free to reach out to email@example.com. We’ll do the research (if we haven’t already) so you don’t have to.
Support has been focused on our continued evolution in both enhancements and purpose of the team. I wanted to share our top initiatives this month.
INCREASED TRANSPARENCY | Affiliates are now receiving monthly Support Summaries that offer a data-focused recap of the month. In addition to providing more visibility, we have worked to establish a consistent feedback loop with the Product teams. With this, we’ve encouraged the affiliates to send us feedback or enhancement ideas which has been critical to our success and allows us to provide consistent and needed support.
UPDATED SLAs | We have made several adjustments to our existing SLAs and will send a document outlining all of our SLAs and the adjustments once completed. In the meantime, we’re proud to say that we’ve decreased 6 of our existing SLAs, ensuring a quicker turnaround time. We’re also up and running with our Blueshift support and have now established the first of many Blueshift-centric categories. This is something we regularly keep watch of and will make further adjustments as we focus on our own in-house efficiencies.
In order for us to provide intuitive support and offer the best applications for the affiliates, we have to really understand how they interact with our systems instead of how we think they use them. Since we can’t exactly shadow each client, the PUMA team has designed and developed Affiliate Journey Maps and Affiliate Personas to show where their pain points are, what systems they use, and much more. These are living documents that we plan to update quarterly, as things move quickly around here and we need to continuously evolve with the affiliates.
Understanding where the affiliates are coming from can really show us if we’re meeting their expectations, and how to improve. We hope you take the time to check them out, and if you have any questions or feedback on these tools, please reach out to me directly.
As of this week, we’ve officially hit over half a billion mailings sent through Blueshift, which accounts for 40% of mailings sent overall (domestic and international).
A QUICK NOTE | You can see this pinboard and many other data metrics – that are as beautiful as they are informative – on ThoughtSpot. For access or questions on this application, please reach out to Rachel Kozloski.
It has been over a year since we switched our email security gateway to Mimecast, so we wanted to give a refresher on what Mimecast has been doing and highlight one of its key features.
On average, Mimecast analyzes over 50,000 email messages per day for spam, misleading links, and phishing attempts. The protection this service offers has been a gamechanger and has kept large volumes of unwanted emails from reaching users. Email security will always be a fight because, as defenses improve, so do attacks that attempt to circumvent them. Mimecast has allowed us to be proactive and prepared for anything new we may encounter.
One way that we have adapted our security to confront current and future risks is by instituting Mimecast’s URL Protection policy, which could affect the links you create with false positives.
This policy has been active since we implemented Mimecast, and has provided an extra layer of protection and visibility for incoming emails. URL Protection applies to all emails that were sent to an internal mailbox from an external source (for example, from gmail.com to 14west.us). If the message meets that mail flow criteria, Mimecast will automatically scan the message for hyperlinks as it comes through. It will then “hijack” all links within the message and redirect them to a Mimecast landing page for the user to investigate.
The purpose of this landing page is to explain to the user that the link leads to an external source and shows the exact URL that the link is pointing to. A common practice of phishing emails is to provide a link that appears to go somewhere legitimate, but it instead leads to a malicious website used to steal credentials or force a download with payloads attached.
Spoofing a hyperlink is very easy, as I was able to do here in about 30 seconds: www.google.com. If you notice in that link, despite it saying “www.google.com,” the link actually points to “https://bing.com.” Had this message been sent from an external source, Mimecast would’ve hijacked the message and showed that it was pointing somewhere different than the message stated. Once you have reviewed the link and determined that the destination is what you expected and safe to visit, you can then continue to the original link that was sent without the Mimecast landing URL appended to it. While Mimecast does hijack the link at first, nothing about the link is changed if you decide to continue past the landing page.
Since we have a high volume of messages being sent from third party services and other external sources, false positives are inevitable with this system. To combat these false positives, we have a separate URL Protection “whitelist” that we can add domains and URLs into. This whitelist currently features all of our internal domains as well as a large number of known subdomains. Other URLs can be added into this list for business purposes if needed. In the event that you have an internal URL being hijacked that is causing business disruption, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to create a ticket and it will be addressed quickly. We want URL Protection to function as much as possible, because unfortunately there are dangerous emails that will slip through the cracks of our filters. URL Protection gives that extra padding to ensure our users do not fall victim to these attacks and help increase awareness.
You can read more about URL Protection policy here.
If you have any questions about the URL Protection, or any other Mimecast policies, please contact the InfoSec team at email@example.com and we will be happy to assist.
The BI and L&D teams have been hard at work this past month launching our data literacy initiative called, Data: Drive with Confidence. We want everyone to understand data concepts and to have the confidence to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data.
As part of our awareness campaign, we have gone live with our first podcast series. Each episode digs into why data matters and how it can be instrumental for companies in the midst of digital transformation.
Each podcast is 15 minutes or less and perfect for in between meetings. If you haven’t gotten to listen in yet, you can start here.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HEAR NEXT? | We are taking suggestions for topics for our next podcast series to launch late summer. Provide suggestions and feedback here.
A QUICK NOTE | Data: Drive with Confidence podcast series is hosted on our new LMS platform, Evolve. If you have any questions about Evolve or have issues with access, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the LMS experts will quickly assist you.
COMING SOON | On demand Data Literacy learning modules for all new hires and all current employees, interactive micro-learning opportunities, and on demand tools training.
On Tuesday, July 21, our latest edition of the Affiliate Spotlight Series will feature a discussion with Katie Melchor, Executive Director of Ecommerce and Danni O’Dell, Executive Director of Finance & Ops for Money Map Press. They are planning to give a brief rundown of their roles and the strong relationship Money Map has with their customers, but they’re opening up this time to answer any and all of your questions.
We think this is a great opportunity to really get to know how a financial publication works and to hear straight from an affiliate regarding how they handle major projects and their day-to-day. Q&A will happen live, but to make sure we get your questions covered, we have a sheet right here for you to jot them down.
Due to our integrated planning sessions happening right now, we understand that these may affect your Q3 OKRs. We want you to be able to seamlessly develop your OKRs through our planning sessions, so we have made a few tweaks to extend the time to complete them. These are due to be wrapped up the third week of July. So while Q3 OKRs would normally be done much earlier, we are giving more time this quarter to allow you to make the changes you need.
Of course, if you are not a team impacted by integrated planning, we would ask that you input your Q3 OKRs as soon as possible! For any help needed please contact Planning & OKR’s!
Thank you for those who were able to join at least one of the virtual sessions for our first ever Deliverability Summit last week. For those who didn’t, we have each session located in the Email Deliverability Workspace here. If you have any issues with access, please reach out to the L&D team here.
The presenters and teams involved in this event are strong thought leaders on the subject of Deliverability today, so we hope you found the sessions insightful and learned a bit more about how important this subject matter is for our affiliates.
For any questions or feedback on this summit, you can reach out to me directly.
With ThoughtSpot, you can now analyze mailing data down to the individual subscriber. This level of granularity allows us to ask questions of our data that were not possible to answer before, and all within seconds of asking.
If you are already in ThoughtSpot, you’ll notice that a pinboard called the Vendor Scorecard has recently been shared with you. This pinboard helps you evaluate new lead sources by highlighting engagement rates during subscribers first days on your list. The pinboard looks at the unique percent of engaged subscribers during their first seven days on file to their first thirty, so that you can decide early on if a source of names is going to be good for your business.
For more information, or if you are not a ThoughtSpot user, please reach out to BI at email@example.com and we’ll get you started.
I’m completely impressed by how you all have managed to focus at work this week with everything happening around us right now. To say it is a lot to take in and process is an understatement. It’s incredible to see you continuing to show up for the company and for each other.
I want to remind you though that you are supported in taking the time away that you need. The strain you are all under, both professionally and personally, is not lost on me. Not at all. I’ve felt it, and needed to take a minute myself. I didn’t realize how much I needed that minute until I actually took it. I worry that a lot of you are in similar positions – head down, white-knuckling it, and trying to get through to the light at the end of the tunnel. This is one long, effin tunnel. So please just check in with yourself and your families and do what you gotta do.
One more thing before we get into bidness. Yesterday, Elizabeth Massing reminded you all about your free access to our EAP program. If you haven’t looked into it, it’s legit and has a lot of different resources for stress, anxiety, burnout, work-life balance, and coping in other difficult times or transitions. If you could use some help, give them a call (800-327-2251) or visit portal.BHSonline.com with username “14WEST” and click LOGIN. If you have any questions about EAP reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now… here’s a quick look at last month and our forward movement.
As of today, officially 290 million mailings have been sent through Blueshift! This has been a tireless effort with nearly every one of our teams here at WesTech, and our friends at APSI and Threefold. Along with the Newshift team joining forces with Customer Intelligence to create the MarTech team, it’s proven to be a very busy quarter for us.
The PUMA team announces the development of Westech Marketing Cloud, an application for lead gen marketing, paid marketing, and e-commerce components all-in-one modern “API-first” platform.
The application formerly known as IRIS+ is the foundation of the new WMC application, so we had a big head start.
A Proof-Of-Concept is currently underway to:
Several Affiliates recently participated in a beta test of the new combined UI and said that it is easy to use and feels modern. An Affiliate Roundtable is being scheduled to review the MVP scope, and provide input, so we’ll make sure to keep you updated on our progress. The strategy is to first deliver the WMC lead gen component at the end of this quarter, then we will focus on paid and e-commerce components.
As you may have already heard, L&D has joined forces with the ALM team to offer office hours that will help you navigate Confluence and Jira like a pro… even if it’s just to get a few simple questions answered. We want to ensure you’re getting the most out of Atlassian platforms, so please join us!
ALM OFFICE HOURS
EVERY WEDNESDAY | 2-3PM ET
Working in lockstep with Actable consultants, the CI team was able to get Lytics up and running on Agora Financial’s email management system within a few short months. We moved 9.3 million records per Imprint from Lytics to the email management system and worked to ensure the launch went smoothly. Considering the fact that the Imprints are able to successfully send millions of emails after being merely a concept in January, we were really able to see our strengths play out within this project.
LYTICS HUDDLE | We’ve kept busy! Last month, we held our first fully virtual Lytics Huddle. For this session, co-founder of Actable Craig Schinn, Drew Lanenga from Lytics, and CI’s very own Chris Laun presented on data science and machine learning. The decisions marketers have to make in each of their highly-segmented campaigns are challenging to manage. Fortunately, they have a number of tools at their disposal to help reach the best customers and prospects at the right time. Watch the recording here.
To help drive deliverability, improved customer relationships and improved monetization, we’ve put together our first ever Deliverability Summit working with our own internal teams as well as industry experts from SparkPost, Blueshift, and Email Ninjas.
MONDAY, JUNE 22 – FRIDAY, JUNE 26
1 x 1-HOUR SESSION / DAY | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET
As a quick reminder, these sessions will be recorded in case you can’t make it or would like to review a session later.
In this month’s “Explain Like I’m 5” in the InfoSec realm, we’re covering the importance of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Working in the publishing space – and especially tech – it’s crucial for you to understand how it affects us.
At this point, you may have heard this term thrown around quite a few times now, and you might be wondering what exactly is CCPA is and why you should care about it.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a new government regulation very similar to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation for the EU). While GDPR focuses heavily on the customer’s right to opt-in to any sort of solicitation or marketing, CCPA focuses on a consumer’s right to opt-out of it.
CCPA’s main tenets are the ability for a consumer to request “do not sell” of their information towards any scenario that the business currently engages in. Additionally, the consumer has the right to request how their information is being sold or monetized, how the data is stored and transferred (similar to GDPR), and a full report of what personally identifiable information (PII) a business holds on that consumer.
Similar to GDPR, the fines for CCPA can be quite heavy for those who violate. While GDPR has the general rule of up to four percent of gross revenue of the parent company for violations, CCPA’s violations can be more granular and equally as painful depending on the circumstance. CCPA fines can be up to $750 dollars per consumer, and up to $7500 per incident per person. This can quickly add up, depending on the number incidents that are incurred.
Should we care about CCPA? Yes.
Is CCPA like GDPR? Yes, very similar. GDPR is about opting in, CCPA is about opting out. Both are about protection of privacy data.
Are the fines heavy? Absolutely.
What should we be concerned with as a business? Responsibly handling customer or employee PII (name, address phone number, email address) according to CCPA and GDPR guidelines.
Should we care about vendors who store information? Yes.
As we continue to work towards compliance, having a good understanding of the basics can go a long way. For additional details on CCPA, please feel free to contact email@example.com.
Learning opportunities right now are a bit different than they did a few months ago. We may be saving on flights and hotels, but working in tech, we’re able to connect to do our jobs at the speed of our wi-fi. That being said, WestWord wanted to cover ways on how those in the tech industry can grow our skillset without having to leave the house.
The Business Partners have developed two major resources that allow WesTech to better align with our affiliates by keeping our fingers on the pulse when it comes to what they have coming down the pike.
CLIENT ADVISORY BOARD | We held our first CAB meeting last month where we were able to take the time to sit down (albeit virtually) and discuss the bigger strategic goals each of the businesses have. Most importantly, we were able to learn the why behind their goals so that we can develop and streamline the support we provide. We came out of it with a long list of key action items and great ideas that we aim to get started with immediately, if not already.
In order to keep each other on track and committed, a major action item for WesTech is to develop breakout seasons for Data, Product, and Deliverability to clearly understand the clients’ why and how. These will involve microdiscussions and full transparency around what affiliates are trying to achieve which will help us prioritize. The ultimate goal: 100% alignment between WesTech and every affiliate.
LAUNCH-READY INITIATIVE | When you are preparing for a sizable launch, we want to tap in the right resources (Support, IT, Advantage, Ecomm, Messaging, Deliverability, Fintech) to make sure they can proactively monitor performance of their systems and become hyper-aware of any issues that may arise. So far, we’ve tested this with most affiliates and we were able to fine tune the processes needed, and look forward to many more successful launches. If you have any questions on this process, please let me know.
If you really want to understand a concept, tool or application… we recommend building a version of it yourself! Steve Tsiopanos recently wrote about his experience building a lab environment to better understand how OpenShift 4 works and to provide educated guidance to his team. Whether we build out the container environment ourselves or work with RedHat to provide the infrastructure, it’s important to strengthen our skills as leaders of application development.
If you’re interested in learning Steve’s process, you can read it here. We’ll be following the progress of how all of our teams work with OpenShift, so watch this space for more developments.
We hope you enjoyed the virtual motivational talk with former NFL running back turned motivational speaker, Brian Mitchell. For those who missed it or would like to watch again, you can click here to watch the recording. If you have issues with access, please contact Jenny.
Last month, we welcomed a new WesTecher to the family. Like those who started in March and April, she has had a unique first month as a fully remote employee, so make sure you reach out to her with a nice message!
Donna Knox | Business Analyst, PayDoh team
Donna has recently joined Nick Daley’s team and looks forward to working in the projects that will help enhance and strengthen the payment processing space at Agora. She’s excited to work with new people (although virtually for now!) and expand her technical knowledge. Connect with Donna here.
This week has been another very difficult one, and as much as I appreciate the connectivity we have, this reinforces to me that a screen just doesn’t cut it sometimes. I’d much prefer talking and working through this together in person. For one thing, you deserve that. But you also need one another. We all need one another. And we’re going to have to persevere without a number of great people – people who really should be here. This is our reality.
Usually, I like to sprinkle in a few ‘attaboys and girls’ and remind you what we have all accomplished in the past month. Instead, I want to focus on something more important. There are plenty of #prouddad moments I could gush about. I could go on about how hard you are pushing yourselves, and try to encourage you to keep it up. But the truth is, it’s not sustainable. And though I’ve tried to make this message clear, now that we are running even leaner, I think it bears reminding that it’s really important that you take care of yourselves and each other.
Simply put, our expectations of you when it comes to work is that you accomplish what you can and communicate what you cannot. What cannot be achieved by an individual should be reassigned or reallocated as a group task. And if it comes down to it and you have to choose between tasks, choose the task that creates the most value to the business. The affiliates feel the same strain we feel, if not more. So, when I say, we are all in this together, that includes our clients. And that is crucial for us all to remember.
With that, I’ll let you move on to the updates from your colleagues. Just know that my “door” is open, and I’m here to support you in any way I can.
The L&D team recently started holding office hours dedicated to each of the applications to give product users time to ask questions – however uncomplicated or detailed. So far, there have been some affiliates who have taken advantage of the office hours to walk through workflows in the systems along with gathering tips and tricks. These are humble victories, but have offered valuable feedback to the Product teams on user experience.
If you find yourself wondering if a question you have is ticket worthy or if you just need to have someone look over your work, keep this handy and sign in during the associated office hour listed below.
For those who I haven’t been able to meet yet, the IRIS, Sign-up App, OPIUM, and Funnelcake teams have merged together into one cohesive unit – the PUMA team (Platform for User-centric Marketing Applications). Combining these teams will enable us to streamline the backend services we offer while sustaining legacy systems.
API FIRST | We’re building out an environment that improves efficiencies and speed using APIs you can easily plug into. The good news is that IRIS+ was built using this “API First” approach, and our first milestone to target completion of the Lead Gen MVP this quarter.
FUNNELCAKE | As you know, Funnelcake has performance issues, the root cause being Magento – the software the order form application was built on. Our strategy right now is to pull Magento out of the system and to build this product on high performance technology, delivering results in the fastest, most cost-effective way.
Our Fireside Chats have really sparked a lot of conversation, and we hope 30 minutes of knowledge-sharing from Daryl is helping you gain deeper insight into Agora history and his thought leadership. If you happen to miss one of these chats, you can check the Newsfeed Slack Channel along with the discussion.
The Messaging Product (Message Central, Newshift) and Customer Intelligence (Lytics) teams are now working more closely together as one MarTech team. While we adjust to the change, the CI team is taking what they learned from driving the adoption of Lytics and applying that knowledge to Blueshift onboarding efforts.
BLUESHIFT ADOPTION | The state of this project is rapidly evolving with data integration, and we are working to provision all needed instances this month. From there, we expect the nature of our work to change as we stand up advanced features in the system and ease out of the affected businesses becoming de-listed with Spamhaus. Getting over these next few hurdles will allow us to move a lot faster, taking time to migrate and then to go back and optimize campaigns.
Wow – what an exciting time to be trading. Even with the dramatic selloff in the stock market, half of the participants posted positive returns… which was very impressive. I bet the gains would have been really high in a bull market! The best part was that we were able to trade an exciting environment that rarely happens while gaining firsthand knowledge of investing and the dynamics of the stock market during volatile times. It showed us the importance of picking quality stocks and the gains that can be achieved. It looks like the top three leaders weren’t teams, but individual contenders, so we hope they will join the GPS Team on an exciting adventure once we are allowed party again.
Congratulations to the top three traders. Navigating this market was extremely difficult since short selling and maxing out on single positions wasn’t allowed. Happy trading!
The InfoSec team wants to explain a few of the “more techy” concepts that you may hear a lot, but never fully understand. In this month’s “Explain Like I’m 5,” Paul goes into data encryption and why it is crucial to data privacy.
You’ve probably heard this at some point or another, Encrypt this, encrypt that, hash this hash that.
But what exactly does it mean and why should I know?
Let’s start with encryption.
Simply put, it’s taking a piece of data, running it through some sort of function/formula/algorithm and making that data unreadable to an outside party who shouldn’t have access to that data.
For example, if you assigned a number to each letter of the alphabet (i.e. A = 1, B =2, C=3) and want to write the word “DOG” but wanted to encrypt this word using your new numerical formula, it would turn into “4,15,7” ( D = 4, O = 15, G = 7). Now you can tell the recipient of your message that your “key” is just a sheet of paper with A-Z with their respective numbers assigned to it. Now only you and the recipient know how to read the messages. Although overly simplified, the basic points are the same for any encrypted message. You can “hide” all of your data in plain sight. It’s important to note that encryption provides privacy of your data, but it also allows the data to be returned to its original form when you have the “key.”
Hashing is very similar to encryption, the big difference being there is no key, and the data can never be returned back to its original form. It can never be “unhashed.” So why is this needed?
One key point about hashing is that, depending on the algorithm you are using, you should be able to create a unique hash for every single word or combination of words you choose. No two hashes should ever be alike, which can be very powerful to protecting our data. This is especially important when we are talking about sensitive data.
Take user passwords, for example. In the encryption scenario, if a system encrypted all of the passwords, an engineer or hacker could somehow steal the key and decrypt those passwords again. But if those passwords are hashed, you cannot decrypt them or regain the original passwords. This makes hashing very useful for protecting things that should never be touched (i.e. passwords, timestamps, digital signatures).
As we move deeper into our dependence on the digital world, everything we do will consist of some type of encryption or hashing. Our data should be encrypted most of the time, and the rest of the time hashed. This protects us and gives us peace of mind.
The Customer Intelligence team (now part of the MarTech team) wants to remind you that they offer Lytics 101 trainings that cover the basics of the CDP. Whether you’re new to the company, have been here for a while but need a refresh or just curious to learn how we can get a deeper understanding of our customers, no marketing background necessary!
If you have any questions about Lytics, reach out to the CI team.
Taking part in Take Your Kids to Work Day wasn’t exactly “celebrated” the way we initially planned, but we think our spin on the day while working remote was a success. We hope you continue to share any parenting tips and tricks in the remote-families Slack channel. If anything, it’s an entertaining reprieve to hear what everyone’s kids think their parents do at WesTech.
We developed a conversation that included a panel of marketing experts from Banyan Hill, The Oxford Group, and NewMarket Group to dissect recent successes they have found in the midst of a pandemic. Craig Schinn of Actable brought his expert knowledge on how to leverage tools like Lytics and Blueshift to add to your strategy. We were pleased to have Brian York joined to offer his insight and host the event.
Last month, we welcome a few new WesTechers to the family. Like those who started in March, they’ve had a unique first month as fully remote employees, so make sure you reach out to them to make them feel a little more at home.
Darlene Ellinger | Product Owner, Data Engineering
Darlene is ready to work with the Spine team as their newest Product Owner. She’s particularly interested in getting her hands on that backlog, and is excited to work with her new team.
John Huber | Network Operations Director, IT
John loves networks and data centers, so he has found the perfect place running the Network Operations team.
You’ve been hearing from me a lot lately. Admittedly, a lot of my communicating is compensating for the physical distance. I definitely miss being around you all. But I mostly want you to know that I’m available to you, and I want to help you feel connected and knowledgeable when it comes to where we are as an organization and how the affiliates are navigating the pandemic. To do that, I’m listening in on affiliate meetings around the organization, consuming as much of our content as I can, and reporting back to you with what I find most meaningful.
If you can manage to do more of this right now, I think you should. I predict this is an investment with promise for huge returns. And keep the communication flowing. The team updates and the ideas being shared on Slack make me feel proud and much closer more than I did in the early days of this quarantine. But beyond the connection, we can help each other and the businesses by sharing and thinking about what these changes mean for us – what we can do to help the business.
We’re all in this together.
Whether you’re a seasoned Slacker or a newbie, it’s important to have a few guidelines as we depend on this application more heavily while working from home. Here is the rundown for a few of the popular channels:
#covid19 | Daryl wanted this channel created as a go-to hub for employees to find out the latest on how the pandemic affects our workplace. It’s mostly information shared from the WesTech Execs and the 14 West Communications team.
#global-announcements | This is a channel that all internal WesTech, APSI and Threefold employees have access to. These are notifications that affect all three companies. Before posting on here, ask yourself if what you’re about to post is appropriate to share with everyone on this Slack Workspace. If it is something casual or only affects a smaller audience, there’s probably a better channel suited for that.
#newsfeed | Started last summer to allow WesTech to stay in the know during APSIFest, this channel has evolved to being the main hub for sharing what we learn at conferences, upcoming events and trainings. Since we’re (sadly) not attending any events any time soon, please use this channel to share virtual conferences, trainings and internal events.
#okr_wall | Last month, we started to share the progress we’re putting towards our quarterly and 2020 objectives. If you have accomplished anything – big or small – towards your own OKRs, use this space as a place to share it. You may just win a prize for sharing!
#wt-team-updates | At this moment, we don’t have the luxury of passing fellow WesTechers in the hallway or along Cathedral Street, so it’s really important to share what your team has accomplished. Each team needs to update this channel at least once a week to keep us all connected.
#random_westech | Is it a gif, joke, news article or anything that isn’t work-related? Throw it here.
If you ever have questions about any channels in our workspace, click the channel’s name at the top of the screen and choose “View channel details.”
Here is a helpful guide to getting the most out of this tool, and if you have any Slack-related questions, you can reach out to me or Scotti.
– Lance Sturgis, Application Integration Specialist
At this point, we’ve all been able to settle into this routine of working from home, but it’s very important to remember that scammers are too. While we are busy worrying about where to find the next roll of toilet paper or how to keep our kids from killing each other, they are busy coming up with new ways to capitalize on this pandemic. As important as it is to keep our hands adequately cleaned, we must remain extra vigilant when it comes to coronavirus scams. Here are just a couple of methods that scammers have quickly started to use.
PHISHING SCAMS | This one involves a quiz. Just giving it a quick glance, it’s obvious that this isn’t something you want to click. These links could take you to a fake page to grab your credentials, or could prompt a download to release malware – which is much worse. There are other ones out there that are doing things such as asking you to confirm you are not infected or showing you the latest active tracker map. As with all phishing scams, DO NOT CLICK ANY LINKS unless you are 100% sure you know where it came from. And even then, I would ask someone first.
TEXT MESSAGES | This is another easy one, which involves receiving random text messages that tell you about how to get tested or information on the virus. These are generally malware-based and are more dangerous than the ones you see in the emails.
Other usual suspects include social media and phone calls. As with emails and text messages, if you receive links in social media messages, invites to pages tracking the virus, or information on the virus, you should stay away. Even if the message came from someone on your friends list, it could generally mean they were hacked as well. Make sure you reach out to that person to confirm first.
As always, if you ever have any questions or are not sure please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to help. Please stay safe and vigilant everyone!
–Paul Xu, VP Information Security
OKR WALL | As you may have heard by now, we want to share the progress you’ve made towards your goals with the rest of the team. You can do so on the OKR Wall Slack Channel. Each week, Katie will take the names of those who participated that week and will put them in a drawing to win a prize.
Congrats to the winners of the weekly drawings so far, Ari Friedman and Pierre Fetat!
BI-WEEKLY WEBINAR | Every two weeks, we review one of the 2020 Objectives for WesTech and how our teams are working towards getting the key results. Recordings can be found here.
Last month, we hosted the inaugural Agora Hackathon, Ready Fire Hack where the developers from Threefold and WesTech came together to solve business-specific problems. We’re happy to say that the event was a major success. You can takeaways about the event from Elliot Sneeringer here and make sure to watch the video of the event.
Late last year, NewMarket Group approached L&D with a unique request. They had just opened a new contact center in Billings, Montana, and needed to build out specific training for their policies and procedures in addition to the usage of Advantage. After going through an overview of the training needed with a call center representative in Baltimore, we then went over to Montana to train their agents. In only three weeks, the team went from knowing nothing about Advantage and NewMarket Group to now being fully independent of the system. Due to the coronavirus, the agents are all currently working remote, but thanks to our training and the materials provided, they’re still able to take orders and cancellations for NewMarket’s products.
A huge shout out to Carine and Sid for working with me on the training materials and training needs. But we also couldn’t have done it with such a receptive group of people at the call center.
–Laura Appel, Senior Training Partner
If you haven’t been tuning in to the WestWord blog, you’re missing out on a series our very own, Michael Bresler has written. See below, and subscribe here to receive these straight to your inbox.
On the Products end, we are now handling all Global Porfolio, BI (Tier 1), EPP (Tier 1), Funnelcake, and Blueshift tickets. We’ve introduced a dedicated triage to ensure consistent communication and customer experience for our affiliates. Since onboarding quality scores for product tickets, we have seen an average of 13% improvement (22% for eComm queries). We’re keeping up with Product teams by holding regular feedback meetings and delivering product reports. Working more closely with the Business Partners to coordinate regular touchpoints with the affiliates has helped improve visibility. The average time handling tickets has been reduced by 30% (see below).
–Tony Browne, Director of Support
Last month we welcomed a few new WesTechers to the family. For some of them, they’ve had an interesting first month and have had to spend a lot of onboarding via Zoom, so make sure you show them some extra love!
Beth Oertel | Instructional Designer
Beth is excited to start with WesTech and to learn from both the L&D and BI teams for the upcoming project for Data University. When she’s not working, she enjoys a good yoga session, spending time with her families and cooking. Connect with Beth here.
Bobby Borys | IT Enterprise Architect
Bobby is the newest addition on Mike Walter’s team and when it comes to the upcoming projects he’ll be working on, he says “bring them on!” He’s excited to tackle new opportunities and to build new relationships at WesTech. Connect with Bobby here.
Jimish Kadakia | BI Developer
Jimish is ready to hit the ground running with QlikView and QlikSense. He is interested in growing Baltimore’s Qlik community and has recently become a Qlik Captain. We hope once we’re back in the office, Jimish will be able to host an array of meet-ups with fellow Qlik enthusiasts in the area. Connect with Jimish here.
Tommaso Ranocchia | L&D Intern
Tommaso is looking forward to learning how to create content and how to efficiently communicate and display information in an effective and practical way. Coming from Perugia, Italy (famous for its chocolate), he is excited to learn from WesTech and to apply what he’s learning in school in the real world. Connect with Tomaso here.
Tony Groves | Email Deliverability Specialist
Tony is a self-proclaimed email enthusiast who has hit the ground running working for the Deliverability team to help our businesses develop email best practices. In his down time, he practices martial arts. Connect with Tony here.