On The Horizon | May 2020
Mine is going to be a short and sweet update this month. This week has been a difficult one. On Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning we let go of a number of valued people including a member of our executive team, CIO Reid McLaughlin. It never feels good to let good people go, but we felt it was our responsibility to become more efficient to remain in line with the things we can’t control right now. And I truly feel that the adjustments made have enabled us to move closer to each of your businesses. Our roadmap to the improvement and modernization of our products and services remains intact.
Over the next several weeks, our executive committee is going to continue to work to ensure we are running a lean and effective operations outfit. In the process we’ll use one common denominator to determine where we focus our energy and resources and that is value – the value we can deliver to you, your people, and your customers. Along the way, we will be looking to you for your insight and communicating about these efforts here in On The Horizon each month. If you feel you have any questions or need additional insight on projects we have open with you, you can still depend on the Business Partners for this. But please know that my “door” is always open.
With that said, here’s the latest from around WesTech.
IN THIS EDITION
- MarTech team update
- L&D office hours
- PUMA team update
- ELI5 | InfoSec
- Lytics 101 trainings
- Marketing in the Age of COVID-19
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 the two teams continue to work more closely together, the CI team is taking what they learned from driving the adoption of Lytics and applying that towards our current efforts of onboarding users onto Blueshift.
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.
- David Schweinfurth, Director of MarTech
SYSTEM-SPECIFIC OFFICE HOURS
If you’re not sure if a question is ticket-worthy or you just need someone to talk you through a workflow, there just might be an office hour for that. The L&D team has set up dedicated time for WesTech-supported systems so that you can sign on and get the help you need.
For ease of access, the Zoom link is the same for each of the office hours listed below, so keep this handy for when you need to join.
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
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, this training is a great learning opportunity.
If you have any questions about Lytics, reach out to the CI team.
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.