The Relentless Pursuit | July 2020

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.

IN THIS EDITION

  • WesTech + Accounting Update
  • Shadow Apps
  • Support Updates
  • Affiliate Mapping
  • 500M Mailings & Counting
  • ELI5 | MimeCast
  • Data Literacy Podcasts
  • Affiliate Spotlight Series
  • Q3 OKRs
  • Deliverability Summit
  • Vendor Score Card

-Daryl

 

WESTECH AND ACCOUNTING UPDATES COMING IN AUGUST

 

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.

Come August, all WesTech-related accounting tasks below will be directed to Danni Yan and  Brian Scheeler.

Accounting Tasks to be Transitioned to Danni and Brian:

  • Invoicing
  • Allocations
  • Concur Expense Approvals
  • Financial Reporting

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 wtinvoices@14west.us. And 14 West Accounts Payable (ap@14west.us) 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.

 

FOUND A NEW APP? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

 

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 sysops@14west.us. We’ll do the research (if we haven’t already) so you don’t have to.

  • 14 West System Operations team

  

THE LATEST FROM SUPPORT

 

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.

  • Brent Quickel, Manager of MarTech Support

  

UNDERSTANDING AFFILIATES FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW

 

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.

  • Judy Bluhm, Product Manager, Platform for User-Centric Marketing Applications

HELL YEAH | ANOTHER BLUESHIFT MILESTONE

 

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.

  

ELI5 | MIMECAST

 

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 help@14west.us 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 security@14west.us and we will be happy to assist.

  • Steve Graziano, Sr InfoSec Engineer

  

DATA: DRIVE WITH CONFIDENCE

 

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 evolve@14west.us 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.

  • Bojo Bauer, Manager, BI Customer Success
  • Beth Oertel, Instructional Designer, L&D

  

JULY AFFILIATE SPOTLIGHT SERIES | MONEY MAP PRESS

 

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.

  

A LITTLE EXTRA TIME FOR YOUR Q3 OKRs

 

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!

  

DELIVERABILITY SUMMIT

 

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.

  • Matt Estes, Manager of Learning & Development

 

VENDOR SCORECARD | GETTING TO KNOW YOUR SOURCES

 

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 intel@14west.us and we’ll get you started.

  • Rachel Kozloski, ThoughtSpot Product Owner

 

The Relentless Pursuit | June 2020

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 benefits@14west.us.

Now… here’s a quick look at last month and our forward movement.

IN THIS EDITION

  • Hell Yeah | Blueshift
  • PUMA Update
  • ALM Office Hours
  • Hell Yeah | CI Team
  • Deliverability Summit
  • ELI5 | InfoSec
  • Speak Data with Us
  • Virtual Trainings in Tech
  • BP Updates
  • Learning OpenShift
  • Command Center Update
  • Motivation from a Former Running Back
  • WesTech Newbie

– Daryl

 

 

HELL YEAH | BLUESHIFT MILESTONE

 

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.

  •   David Schweinfurth, Director of MarTech

  

GOING API-FIRST ON THE PUMA TEAM

 

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:

  • Pull the e-commerce components into a combined user-interface (with lead gen).
  • Provide the ability to successfully place an order & collect payment.
  • Improve performance of order page load times.

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.

  • Judy Bluhm, PUMA Product Manager

 

GET MORE OUT OF ATLASSIAN

 

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

CLICK TO JOIN HERE

 

HELL YEAH | CI TEAM ONBOARDS LYTICS

 

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.

 

LEARNING FROM THE EXPERTS ON EMAIL DELIVERABILITY

 

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.

DELIVERABILITY SUMMIT

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.

 

ELI5 | WHAT IS CCPA AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

 

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.

A RECAP…

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 security@14west.us.

  • Paul Xu, Vice President, Information Security

 

TECH TRAININGS

 

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.

Click here to read our list.

 

HOW WE’RE GETTING A BETTER SEAT AT THE TABLE

 

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.

  • Doug Broujos, Chief Client Officer

 

GETTING TO KNOW OPENSHIFT FROM THE GROUND UP

 

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.

 

A WORD FROM BRIAN MITCHELL

 

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.

 

WELCOME TO WESTECH

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The Relentless Pursuit | May 2020

 

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.

IN THIS EDITION

  • L&D office hours
  • PUMA team update
  • Further | Fintech
  • Fireside Chats
  • MarTech team update
  • Wall Street Survivor
  • ELI5 | InfoSec
  • Lytics 101
  • Remote Your Kids to Work Day
  • Marketing in the Age of COVID-19
  • Welcome to WesTech

– Daryl

 

HELL YEAH | SYSTEM-SPECIFIC OFFICE HOURS

 

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.

 

ALIGNMENT WITH THE PUMA TEAM

 

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.

  • Judy Bluhm, PUMA Product Manager

 

FIRESIDE CHATS

 

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.

 

MARTECH TEAM | COMBINING FORCES

 

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.

  • Dave Schweinfurth, Director of MarTech

  

WALL STREET SURVIVOR RESULTS

 

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.

TOP TRADERS

  1. Sam Powell
  2. Nick Schatz
  3. Ashen Rana

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!

  • Leonard Kardelis, Portfolio Compliance Analyst 

 

ELI5 | DATA ENCRYPTION

 

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.

 

LYTICS 101 TRAININGS

 

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.

 

REMOTE YOUR KIDS TO WORK DAY 2020

 

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.

 

 

MARKETING IN THE AGE OF COVID-19

 

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.

WELCOME TO WESTECH

 

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.

 

 

 

The Relentless Pursuit | April 2020

 

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.

IN THIS EDITION:

  • Culture Survey Deadline
  • Q1 All Hands
  • Affiliate Spotlight Series
  • Slack Navigation
  • Scam of the Month
  • OKRs
  • No Dev is an Island
  • Hell Yeah | L&D
  • Further | Fintech
  • Cyber Thieves Hot on Your Trail
  • Remotely Interested
  • The Latest from Support
  • Soundview
  • Welcome to WesTech

 

– Daryl

SLACK NAVIGATION

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

 

SCAM OF THE MONTH | COVID-19

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  security@14west.us. We are always happy to help.  Please stay safe and vigilant everyone!

Paul Xu, VP Information Security

 

CHIPPING AWAY AT YOUR OBJECTIVES

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.

Examples include:

  • Implemented “Scrum Master 360” survey to get team assessments towards scrum master growth opportunities. – Jeff Nichols
  • Designed training module on Performance Mgmt & Feedback for all leaders and employees, with training sessions beginning next week! – Ari Friedman
  • In support of OKR developing a discipline of operational excellence across the organization to deliver 80% of project milestones on-time with high quality by end of year, I hosted a KPIs lunch and learn to begin establishing time & quality measurements for BDT managed projects. – Kristine Krome
  • Morgan and Tori revamped monthly affiliate meetings to provide more value including bringing a new idea to each meeting to help them benefit from the services. – Michael Bresler
  • This is the APSI’s OKR tracker for the roll out of Blueshift Internationally, in collaboration with 14W, Threefold, Email DeliverabilityBI, L&D and Data Engineering. This quarter we have been aiming to onboard 6 new businesses onto Blueshift across Australia, Ireland, Germany and England…we have 7 working days to get as many in the green as possible…7 challenging days ahead of us but the spirit and motivation is HIGH. Without the collaboration of everyone across the business none of the below would have been possible…Let see how far we can get… – Pierre Fetat

 

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.

 

NO DEV IS AN ISLAND | TAKEAWAYS FROM READY FIRE HACK

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.

 

HELL YEAH | L&D WAS CALLED WESTWARD

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

 

WESTWORD BLOG | REMOTELY INTERESTED

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.

Remotely Interested | Working from Home

Remotely Interested | Week One of the New Normal

Remotely Interested | The Silver Lining

 

THE LATEST FROM SUPPORT

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

 

WELCOME TO WESTECH

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.