Tag Archives: Customer

Salesforce Trailhead to roll out live training videos

Salesforce is promoting customer success by rolling out two new Trailhead features that will be available by the end of this year.

Salesforce will introduce live video trainings on Trailhead Live and new features to Trailblazer.me, the online resume feature designed to help job-seekers show off their skills and accomplishments using Trailhead.

Trailblazer.me already features badges and certifications achieved using Trailhead. The new version will also highlight a person’s activity throughout the Salesforce ecosystem, such as contributions to user groups, what apps users download from the Salesforce AppExchange and reviews that users have posted.

Trailblazer.me should help employers that want to be able to quantify whether job applicants have the skills they say they have, said Maribel Lopez, founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research.

“People used to be able to just say, ‘I know Salesforce,’ on their resume,” Lopez said. “I think one of the hardest things for employers is to understand whether anyone they hire is actually qualified in the things they say they are qualified in.”

Trailhead Live brings video instruction

Trailhead Live offers a new way for Salesforce users to learn with additional elements of community. Like other Trailhead courses, Trailhead Live courses are free.

The initial set of courses will include live coding and Salesforce certification preparation for administrators and others. Within two months of launch later this year, Salesforce said it expects Trailhead Live to offer more than 100 live and on-demand training courses. This will also include courses in so-called “soft skills,” such as how to interview for a job and public speaking.

Salesforce Trailhead screenshot
Salesforce plans to roll out live video training on Trailhead Live by year’s end.

Salesforce plans to have a big Trailhead presence at Dreamforce in San Francisco from Nov. 19 to 22, where the new Trailhead features will be on display.

Salesforce is doing this an acknowledgment that people learn differently, Lopez said.

“There are multiple ways people like to engage,” Lopez said. “It used to be you had a whiteboard and people took notes, but now we’re in a much more visual era and you want to be sure you’re reaching everyone.”

Inspired by Peloton

Salesforce said the design of Trailhead Live was inspired in part by Peloton, the company that offers live on-demand fitness courses via an internet-connected bicycle.

Seeing how people can engage with others without having to go to a classroom was an inspiration.
Kris LandeVice president of marketing, Salesforce

“We definitely looked at consumer applications like Peloton,” said Kris Lande, vice president of marketing at Salesforce. “Seeing how people can engage with others without having to go to a classroom was an inspiration.”

There is a community aspect to Trailhead Live, as users will able to see who else is taking the class with them, Lande said. It’s also more personalized, as the instructor verbally welcomes each participant by name.

Like Peloton, which features certified trainers, Trailhead Live will feature experts in different topic areas from the Salesforce community. If you miss a class or need more time to complete different skills tests, each class will also be available online. If there are 15 people taking an hour-long course on how to create Lightning Web Components, the instructor will give a set period of time for users to complete tasks in their own virtual workspace. The user can return and learn in an on-demand review of the course if he or she needs to finish any parts of it for certification.

Earlier this year, there were 1.2 million people using the Trailhead platform, according to Salesforce. That number has grown to 1.7 million and is expected to grow to 1.8 million by Dreamforce, with a total of 17 million badges earned since its launch. Trailhead users earn badges each time they show mastery of specific skills.

New Salesforce Trailhead trainings introduced this past year include cybersecurity and Apple iOS.

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Microsoft challenges Amazon with Dynamics 365 Commerce

Microsoft filled a major gap in its customer experience stack with the Dynamics 365 Commerce online sales platform, giving customers that own physical stores more technology to drive bottom-line revenues. The e-commerce platform is joined by another new app, the Dynamics 365 Connected Store, which combines data collected online with data collected at brick-and-mortar stores.

The idea is not only to enable online sales for traditional retailers, but to also help customers continue their online shopping experiences when they set foot inside a store location, said Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president for business applications and global industry at Microsoft, in a blog post.

Together with other new AI features and data tools added to existing Dynamics 365 applications, Microsoft is giving retailers a strong alternative to Amazon’s platform — but more importantly, it’s challenging integrated CX stacks from Salesforce and Oracle, said Forrester analyst Kate Leggett.

“You can’t support the customer through their end-to-end journey without an e-commerce pillar,” said Leggett, who added that Dynamics 365 Commerce might not be a great leap forward as an e-commerce platform, but it catches Microsoft up to the pack. “It was a real hole in Microsoft’s portfolio.”

Microsoft is focusing its e-commerce platform for B2C retailers for now, Leggett said. Technology vendors sometimes have separate e-commerce platforms for B2B and B2C customers, but Microsoft said it plans to build the B2C side and add B2B-centric features later.

Dynamics 365 Connected Store adds data insights

Dynamics 365 Commerce paired with Connected Store creates a platform for AI and machine learning for behavioral data analysis that can trace customer journeys from online research to their movements through a physical store as they shop. Moreover, Dynamics 365 Connected Store helps store employees personalize their interactions with individual customers by showing them, for example, what the customer was looking at online before they came in.

You can’t support the customer through their end-to-end journey without an e-commerce pillar.
Kate LeggettAnalyst, Forrester Research

Connected Store’s data tools can help optimize store operations on a day-to-day basis by, for example, summoning clerks via phone notifications to help check out customers during busy times. It also analyzes video and inventory data to report on longer-term buying patterns to promote inventory and merchandising efficiencies within a store or region.

“It’s about real-time insights, connected data and analytics — having that data available to deliver outcomes you need,” Leggett said.

Also previewed by Microsoft were related new features for existing applications, including Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, which aggregates IoT data from goods such as connected kitchen appliances that contain sensors transmitting data back to the manufacturer. Another was a set of tools within Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service to make Microsoft chatbots easier to customize and deploy.

Dynamics 365 Connected Store currently is in private preview, while Dynamics 365 Commerce is in public preview. A Microsoft spokesperson said the general availability date would be revealed in the “coming months,” as well as pricing information.

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SuccessFactors customers to see big Qualtrics impact

LAS VEGAS — At the SAP SuccessFactors customer conference, SAP’s $8 billion Qualtrics acquisition seemed like the tail wagging the dog. Employee experience was such a central theme that SuccessFactors may rebrand HCM as HXM — Human Experience Management.

It may have been a lot for SuccessFactors customers to take in.

Some SuccessFactors customers are measuring employee experience with deeper analysis of employee behavior, such as time to complete certain tasks. But others, who were not Qualtrics users, were still assessing its capabilities.

What SAP made clear is that Qualtrics is important to the future of SuccessFactors.

Qualtrics “allows us now to really rethink almost every transaction in every application that we’re investing in,” Greg Tomb, president of SAP SuccessFactors, said at a meeting with press and analysts at SuccessConnect 2019.

Qualtrics sells an “experience management” or XM platform. It captures and measures employee experience (EX), product experience (PX), customer experience (CX) and brand experience (BX). The platform can combine experience data with a company’s operational data. 

The use of sophisticated employee experience measuring was illustrated by Hernan Garcia, vice president of talent and culture at Tecnológico de Monterrey, a university in Mexico. Garcia’s team studies employee experience as well as the efficiency of a process, including the time it takes to complete something.

“We measure both how they feel, how they interact, but also how much time, how many clicks, how many people they need to touch” to complete something, Garcia said during a press and analyst meeting. The school can improve the experience of employees by directly making changes to processes that affect it, he said.

The university was awarded SAP’s annual 2019 Klaus Tschira HR Innovation Award on Tuesday, which is named after an SAP co-founder. The university has about 31,000 employees and 160,000 students.

SuccessFactors is delivering some Qualtrics integrations, such as with employee records. It is also building capability to integrate with SAP Analytics Cloud so that companies can include both “X” or experience data and “O” or operational data in their analytics programs, said Amy Wilson, head of products and application engineering at SuccessFactors.

The SuccessFactors and Qualtrics integration work will continue into next year. For now, SuccessFactors and Qualtrics are separate applications, but “seamless,” Wilson said. SAP’s ultimate plan is to embed Qualtrics into SuccessFactors, she said.

But the employee experience discussion can’t just focus on X and O data. It must reconcile with the major workforce changes looming, said Vera Cuevas, a SuccessFactors user and HRIS senior manager at a technology firm she asked not be named.

“There’s probably going to be a lot of jobs across a number of different industries that might go away, that might be automated,” Cuevas said. “It will be interesting to see how you retain that employee engagement while at the same time you are moving employees in different jobs, or in some cases eliminating industries.”

Another attendee, Catrena Hairston, a senior learning professional at a U.S. government agency, said the ability to use both experience and operational data makes sense and may be useful. But she will have to see it in action. “I’m not into vaporware, so I’ll have to see if it works with our data,” Hairston said.

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Oracle CDP moves beyond marketing data

SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle has entered the customer data platform market, but some observers wonder whether the category is already headed into obsolescence.

The Oracle Customer Data Platform (CDP) joins Adobe’s, released earlier this year. Salesforce and SAP have their own CDPs in development. While they attempt to solve a difficult technical problem — matching, updating and deduplicating customer records across marketing, sales, service and e-commerce systems — CDPs are difficult to explain to c-suite leaders who sign off on large IT purchases.

Moreover, for CIOs, a CDP represents another tool to support and secure in already complex cloud enterprise application stacks.

No one disputes the need for B2C and B2B companies to aggregate customer data to drive faster, more precisely personalized sales and promotions, said Paul Gaynor, a technology consulting leader for PwC, a tax and audit services firm based in London. But when selling clients on CX initiatives, he said, his team leaves the CDP discussion to the developers, instead focusing on outcomes and bottom-line potential.

“We don’t make it about the data,” Gaynor said. “The data is the currency, a really important part of the equation, for sure. But the infrastructure and how it has to pass from platform to platform to drive AI- or human-based decisions … that’s just part of workflow.”

That said, he sees potential for the Oracle CDP to derive more specific, usable insights from many more data sources than customer experience platforms , even reaching into supply-chain systems to shape personalized customer offers.

Oracle EVP Rob Tarkoff presenting at OpenWorld.
Rob Tarkoff, Oracle EVP, delivers the CX keynote at Oracle OpenWorld.

Oracle CDP goes beyond marketing

When Oracle talks to customers in advertising-heavy sectors, those users believe that CDPs are the technology answer to melding customer data from third-party advertising platforms with their own marketing data, said Oracle EVP Rob Tarkoff. In other sectors, CDPs are less important, Tarkoff said.

Yet Oracle bills its CX Unity platform as “more than a CDP,” able to reach past marketing systems and draw deeper insights from ERP and other peripheral data systems. In Tarkoff’s mind, current CDPs tend to be limited to marketing automation. Yet in conversations with some customers, CDPs “are coming up all the time,” Tarkoff said.

Whatever the platform is called, profile veracity — the ability to dedupe, normalize and resolve different data sets to real identity, at scale — is a big challenge for these data platforms.

“That, and in every industry, there’s a different schema for how you want to represent a customer profile,” Tarkoff said. “A bank has a different set of attributes than an insurance company, a communications company or a retailer.”

Data wrangling to remain difficult

Some observers, such as Deloitte Digital Principal and CTO Sam Kapreilian, believe that despite the difficulty of easily explaining CDPs — let alone their value — customer data platforms will become bedrock technology to garner data insights and drive revenue in the years to come. Rather than headed toward obsolescence, Deloitte’s customers see the potential of new versions of the tool like Oracle CDP.

[CDP is] an ongoing project, it’s going to take years. It’s like the journey to self-improvement — it never ends.
Michael KrigsmanAnalyst and founder, CXOTalk

“This stuff wasn’t possible two to three years ago,” Kapreilian said. “It just wasn’t affordable.”

Michael Krigsman, analyst and founder of CXOTalk, said whatever future platforms perform the processes currently assigned to CDPs will have to solve the same problem: Figure out how to find and track revenue in data that often is far removed from the final sales process, aggregate it in a single platform and ultimately assign a value to AI-fueled data personalization.

“It’s an ongoing project; it’s going to take years,” Krigsman said. “It’s like the journey to self-improvement — it never ends.”

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Nectar launches Customer Experience Assurance platform

Nectar Services Corp. recently launched Nectar Customer Experience Assurance, a customer experience testing and monitoring platform for contact center and interactive voice response team, promising to eliminate the need for legacy network monitoring platforms.

Nectar said Customer Experience Assurance offers a range of capabilities, including auto-discovery, voice recognition and simulation, dynamic call automation and load testing. These features enable contact center DevOps teams to test and discover network issues in a timely manner and to save time when launching new platforms or making configuration changes.

Nectar’s Customer Experience Assurance also offers perpetual monitoring that performs testing in regular intervals to monitor platforms for service availability and configuration changes, the company said. This enables contact center management teams to alert and carry out historical reporting based on factors affecting customer experience (CX) metrics such as service availability, functionality and call quality.

Nectar CX Assurance includes the following features:

  • Auto discovery enables reverse-engineering of calls flows that speed up interactive voice response (IVR) and provides accurate and timely customer experience monitoring. 
  • Real-time alerting notifies companies via email and/or text when issues are identified.
  • Voice automation provides text-to-speech and speech recognition that, in combination with call recording, enable a high level quality control and monitoring.  
  • Voice quality scoring identifies clicks and noises, artifacts, intermittent gaps and jitter due to packet loss in audio during playback.

Nectar said Customer Experience Assurance is the first product to apply its experience in unified communications (UC) monitoring, diagnostics and reporting to the contact center environment. It is built upon Nectar’s core products, network and endpoint operations for UC and provides cloud-based CX testing for enterprise contact center and IVR operations.

In the CX monitoring market, Nectar competes with Oracle, Clarabridge and Integrated Research, known as IR. Oracle CX Cloud Suite offers a full set of applications from marketing to sales, and commerce to service. Clarabridge’s product stresses AI technology that provides audio transcription of agent-customer interactions, along with sentiment, tone and voice analysis for customer service conversations. IR’s Prognosis for Contact Center offers complete contact center ecosystem from Cisco and Avaya, and the underlying UC systems with one platform.

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Adobe brings graph database to customer journey touchpoints

Identity resolution is a difficult technology issue for marketers to solve, because current customer experience platforms have a hard time understanding when the same person contacts a company from multiple devices. Adobe’s Customer Journey Analytics, announced today, tackles the problem with a graph database.

Customer Journey Analytics is a feature subset of Adobe Analytics, itself a part of the Adobe Experience Platform. It features an interface that closely resembles Photoshop’s layers, the UX model familiar to  marketers and designers who typically use that application somewhere along the way creating marketing and sales content.

Combining a graph database — which makes more connections between data points than traditional relational databases — with analytics is a new way to solve the problem of identity resolution in the case of multiple customer journey touchpoints, said Nate Smith, Adobe Analytics product marketing manager.

Instead of creating new records when a customer who typically uses a smartphone app switches over to a desktop computer, for example, the graph database can connect the dots.

“It will tie those devices together to a unique ID,” Smith said.

Adobe Analytics dashboard screenshot
Adobe Analytics adds deeper insights to its platform capabilities for mapping customer journeytouchpoints.

Data science for marketers

It’s the latest chapter in a technology trend where customer experience platform vendors bring more data science capabilities to marketers, who aren’t typically data scientists. Using the metaphor of the customer journey, the features track the various stages of customer interaction with a company, from discovery to shopping to completing a purchase.

It’s the latest chapter in a technology trend where customer experience platform vendors bring more data science capabilities to marketers.

The idea is to subdivide the transaction process in order to find more opportunities for additional sales, upsells or retargeting. This becomes a more complex proposition as new customer journey touchpoints, such as social media mobile apps or even smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, become popular among a company’s customers.

Smith said the “layers” approach enables customer experience teams to look for new potential revenue opportunities by mixing and matching different data sets, such as brick-and-mortar and website sales. Teams can also analyze trends to determine what’s behind issues such as customer attrition problems.

For customer experience teams employing data scientists, Adobe Analytics includes an advanced data analysis tool, Adobe Experience Platform Query Service.

The graph database component of Customer Journey Analytics pairs well with Adobe Sensei AI, according to Forrester analyst James McCormick. Together they can automate deduplication of records, a time-intensive manual task, closer to real time. The Photoshop-esque interface will help customers dive into the analytics tools more quickly, he added.

“These are iterative moves towards Adobe vision of creating a uniformed user experience across a fully integrated Adobe Experience Cloud,” McCormick said. “This common approach will really help Adobe customers work with, and across, multiple products.”

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CleverTap, Phiture launch customer engagement analytics framework

Customer retention platform CleverTap has collaborated with mobile consultancy Phiture to create a new acknowledgement, interest and conversion framework to better understand customer interactions.

To enable app companies to understand the depth and intensity of user interactions, the framework categorizes levels of user activity into one of three tiers of engagement: acknowledgment, interest or conversion (AIC), with conversion holding the highest value. CleverTap intends the customer experience analytics framework to help marketers improve user retention strategies and move customers from the acknowledgement layer through to the conversion layer.

With the AIC framework, marketers can recognize which in-app activities contribute the most to revenue growth. Marketers can choose which customer activities trigger classification into which layer for their specific app.

For the acknowledgement layer, triggers might include launching the app, opening an app-generated email or interacting with push notifications. Interest triggers include activity with more intent, but not quite at conversion yet, like sharing in-app links, scrolling through a news feed or moving through different pages within the app.

The conversion layer triggers include activities that suggest users are committed to the app and have taken actions, such as making a purchase, booking a flight, posting a message to a news feed or completing a level in a game.

Gartner noted customer engagement center interaction analytics as a top priority in its 2019 Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Customer Engagement report. According to Gartner, visualizing the customer journey and predicting customer behavior are essential abilities of service leaders and agents to bolster customer experience and, ultimately, company growth.

CleverTap and Phiture’s framework competes with products such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Mixpanel and Smartlook that also offer tools and dashboards that break down customer interaction and provide insight for better marketing.

CleverTap claims that typical dashboard metrics such as daily active users and monthly active users are not enough to see a clear picture of engagement and don’t provide actionable insight. The AIC framework incorporates the relative value of actions to inform user engagement strategy, according to Phiture.

The AIC framework accounts for the fact that users may not stay within one level and may move from interest to acknowledgement, or vice versa, or may even exist within multiple layers; tracking this movement in addition to activity contributes to informing and improving campaign strategies, according to the vendors.

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Clumio backup seeks to simplify with SaaS

As a new vendor’s first customer, the IT leader of a city wouldn’t be faulted for worrying about the product.

But Cory Smith, CIO and CTO of Davenport, Iowa, said he didn’t have concerns with using Clumio for backup and recovery. Clumio, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., came out of stealth Aug. 13 with its cloud-based backup as a service.

Smith said the city was looking for a new backup product earlier this year when Clumio contacted him about trying out a beta version. He said he felt more at ease with the product after using it in beta and performing backups and restores. The city purchased Clumio as soon as it became generally available April 30.

Though Davenport doesn’t have a major cloud initiative, Smith said going cloud-only for backup is a goal.

“This is one of those situations where the cloud is really good for us,” Smith said.

Striving for simplicity

Clumio CEO and co-founder Poojan Kumar aims for his company to do with backup what Salesforce has done with CRM and ServiceNow with service management. He wants to deliver a true service offering that’s completely run and managed in the cloud by Clumio.

“SaaS is taking over,” Kumar said. “Our founding vision was really around going and building a data management platform on top of the public cloud.”

SaaS is taking over. Our founding vision was really around going and building a data management platform on top of the public cloud.
Poojan KumarCEO, Clumio

Kumar said he wants customers to get away from the complex nature of installing software and hardware for backup. In addition, as workloads are moving to the cloud, the practice of using multiple accounts, regions and clouds is increasing complexity.

“We saw all of this as an opportunity for simplification,” Kumar said.

To start, Clumio protects on-premises and cloud-based VMware environments on top of AWS. It also provides native AWS backup for accounts that run Elastic Compute Cloud and Elastic Block Store.

The majority of backup vendors were “born in the world of on premises,” delivering protection through software, hardware or both, which the customer has to manage, Kumar said. He said legacy backup players cannot take advantage of the public cloud “the right way” by building a cloud-native architecture and true SaaS platform.

“By SaaS, I mean a true service that is multi-tenant that frees the customer from the mundane of managing these solutions,” Kumar said.

Andrew Smith, research manager at IDC, noted that Clumio customers don’t need to use anything on premises. They can simply spin up the virtual appliance and start using Clumio. The vendor says it takes 15 minutes to get the product running.

“The way they’re approaching backup as a service as an all-inclusive platform is unique,” Smith said. “The idea is to ‘SaaSify’ the entire backup environment.”

Davenport’s Smith said even with his larger environment — about 70 VMs and 40 TB worth — getting to the cloud was not an issue.

The city, with a population of about 100,000, has to retain some data indefinitely. For example, police video — a data set that’s often large — could be critical in court 10 years from now.

“The city’s not going to go out of business,” he said. “I’ve got to keep it.”

Smith said its price is an advantage. Because Clumio charges per virtual machine rather than by the size of the VM, the cost does not rise as a VM grows larger.

Screenshot of Clumio backup
Clumio, a backup-as-a-service vendor that came out of stealth Aug. 13, charges per VM.

A look at current and future features

Smith said Davenport was looking for a new backup system because its Rubrik platform wasn’t performing well enough, especially with getting data sets to the cloud. The city wanted to get away from running hardware on premises and using traditional disaster recovery, and sought a cheap cloud service.

“Clumio has kind of hit that niche,” Smith said.

He acknowledged that the product is not yet mature and Clumio is still adding functionality. He said he’s looking for the vendor to add Microsoft Exchange and SQL support. Davenport still uses old Veeam licensing for Exchange and SQL Server, but Smith said he thinks eventually the city will only use Clumio for backup. He said he finds the interface and search easy to use.

Security wise, Clumio’s backups are encrypted in transit and at rest. Kumar said its immutability is especially important in the face of data protection threats like ransomware.

“You know that you can go back to the copy [and] it’s going to be kosher,” Kumar said. “We do a whole bunch of things automatically in the platform to make sure that it is restorable to the previous copy. It’s not just about backing it up — it’s about making sure it is restorable.”

Kumar said he expects Clumio will delve into machine learning to help look at potential issues with customer data.

Funding, founders, fighting status quo

Clumio has $51 million in funding over two rounds. Sutter Hill Ventures led the Series A round. Index Ventures drove the Series B round, which also had significant participation from Sutter Hill Ventures.

The company was founded in 2017. Kaustubh Patil, vice president of engineering, and CTO Woon Ho Jung were the other founders with Kumar. All three founders previously worked at VMware, Nutanix and PernixData. Kumar was a founder of PernixData, which was acquired by Nutanix.

Clumio has about 75 employees, Kumar said.

The product is sold exclusively through the channel.

IDC’s Smith said competition will include Veeam, Zerto, Rubrik and Cohesity, as well as the more traditional backup vendors such as Veritas, Dell EMC and Commvault. Druva and Carbonite are also leaders in cloud-based backup.

“They’re going to have to compete with everybody,” Smith said. “It’s going to be pretty difficult.”

It will be important for Clumio to attract customers moving all data to the cloud, Smith said, as well as users tackling multi-cloud and that increased complexity of environment.

Kumar said his biggest competition is the status quo.

“It’s going to be about educating the market that something like this is possible,” Kumar said. “And we can give you freedom from the mundane.”

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Adobe acquisition of Marketo could shake up industry

The potential Adobe acquisition of Marketo could unsettle the customer experience software market and give Adobe, which is mainly known for its B2C products, a substantial network of B2B customers from Marketo.

Adobe is in negotiations to acquire marketing automation company Marketo, according to reports.

“It’s a trend that B2B customers are trying to become more consumer-based organizations,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director for 451 Research. “Marketo is maybe throwing in the towel in being a lead marketing vendor on its own.”

But, reportedly, talks between Adobe and Marketo’s holding company may not lead to a deal.

Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, said leaks could be coming from Vista Equity Partners Management, which bought Marketo in 2016 and took the company private, in the hopes of adding another bidder to the race to acquire Marketo.

“If people think Adobe would buy Marketo, maybe it would get SAP to think about it,” Wang said. “The question is, who needs marketing automation or email marketing? And when you think about the better fit at this moment, it’s SAP.”

When reached for comment, Adobe declined, adding that it does not comment on acquisition rumors or speculation.

Adobe expanding to B2B

Marketo said it had roughly 4,600 customers when it was acquired by Vista Equity. It’s unclear whether Adobe and Marketo have much overlap between customer bases, but there could be product overlap between the software vendors.

Marketo is maybe throwing in the towel in being a lead marketing vendor on its own.
Sheryl Kingstoneresearch director, 451 Research

Adobe has its Marketing Cloud system, and both vendors offer basic martech features, like lead scoring, lead segmentation, web tracking, SMS marketing, personalized web content and predictive analytics. But an Adobe acquisition of Marketo would allow Adobe to expand into a wider B2B market, while allowing Marketo to offer its users the ability to market more like a B2C vendor using Adobe’s expertise.

“It’s a huge benefit for Marketo when you look at Adobe,” Kingstone said.

“Marketo has struggled in a B2B sense when its customers try to implement an ABM [account-based marketing] strategy,” she said.

Despite any potential overlap with its own products’ marketing capabilities, Adobe could find the chance to break into a pool of nearly 5,000 B2B customers compelling.

“There’s a lot of value in Marketo, and Adobe has been gun shy about entering B2B,” Wang said.

Adobe’s alliance

If the Adobe acquisition reports turn out to be accurate, it would amplify what has already been a busy year for the vendor. In May, Adobe acquired commerce platform Magento for a reported $1.7 billion.

A Reuters report about the Adobe acquisition of Marketo said likely prices will well exceed the $1.8 billion that Vista paid for Marketo when it took Marketo private.

Over the past few years, industry-leading companies in the CRM and customer experience spaces have sought to build alliances with other vendors.

Adobe and Microsoft have built a substantial partnership and have even gone to market together with products, while Salesforce and Google unveiled their partnership and product integrations last year at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference.

Marketo has been one of the few major martech vendors without an alliance. Combining its technologies with Adobe’s creative suite and potentially Microsoft’s B2B breadth could make a significant imprint on the industry.

“If this is real, then it means Adobe has gotten serious about B2B,” Wang said.

Editor’s note: TechTarget offers ABM and project intelligence data and tools services.

Another mSpy leak exposed millions of sensitive user records

Mobile spyware company mSpy has once again leaked millions of customer records to the public internet.

The company develops mobile spyware that customers use to monitor the mobile device activity of their children, partners and others. Security researcher Nitish Shah discovered the mSpy leak via a public-facing database and reached out to cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs, who first reported the leak.

Krebs looked into the mSpy leak and said no authentication was required to access the database. The customer data included passwords, call logs, text messages, contacts, notes and location data — all of which was compiled by the mSpy spyware — and there were millions of records. Additionally, there were records containing the username, password and private encryption key of every mSpy customer who was active in the last six months. The database also included the Apple iCloud usernames and authentication tokens of the Apple devices running mSpy.

According to Krebs, anyone who accessed the database would be able to see WhatsApp and Facebook messages that were also compiled by mSpy.

Krebs also noted that the transaction details of all mSpy licenses purchased within the last six months were exposed, and that included customer names, email addresses and mailing addresses. Additionally, there was browser and internet address information from users visiting the mSpy website.

The exposed database was taken offline this week. But Shah told Krebs the company’s support people ignored him when he tried to alert them of the mSpy leak and asked to be directed to their head of technology or security. After Shah contacted Krebs, Krebs reached out to mSpy as well, with only slightly better results. The chief security officer of mSpy said the company was aware of the issue and was working on it.

In response to Krebs’ article, mSpy issued a statement in which it acknowledged there was an incident, but denied that millions of records had been exposed.

This isn’t the first mSpy leak in recent years. In 2015, Krebs also reported a data leak after mSpy was hacked and customer data was posted on the dark web. In that breach, the information of over 400,000 was estimated to be exposed, and mSpy “initially denied suffering a breach for more than week,” according to Krebs, despite customers confirming their data was part of the exposed cache.

In other news:

  • The FIDO Alliance has launched a certification program for biometrics. “Biometric user verification has become a popular way to replace passwords and PINs, but the lack of an industry-defined program to validate performance claims has led to concerns over variances in the accuracy and reliability of these solutions,” the FIDO Alliance said. The certification, called the Biometric Component Certification Program, is designed for both users and providers. For enterprises, FIDO said, “it provides a standardized way to trust that the biometric systems they are relying upon for fingerprint, iris, face and/or voice recognition can reliably identify users and detect presentation attacks.”
  • More than 7,500 MikroTik routers were infected with malware, according to researchers from Qihoo 360 Netlab. The malware logs and transmits network traffic information to servers under the hackers’ control. The researchers found the routers were infected by the malware through an exploit of a vulnerability disclosed in the Vault7 leaks of alleged CIA hacking tools. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-14847, was patched in April. The researchers noticed the malicious activity on their honeypot systems in July specifically aimed at MikroTik routers. The largest number of routers affected by CVE-2018-14847 exploits were in Russia, as well as Iran, Brazil, India and Ukraine.
  • Hackers have compromised the MEGA Chrome extension — which is used for secure cloud storage — to steal login credentials and cryptocurrency keys, according to researchers. First discovered by an anonymous researcher called SerHack, the malicious version of the browser extension monitors for usernames and passwords in login forms on Amazon, Microsoft, GitHub and Google, and then it sends the credentials to a host in Ukraine. It also scanned for URLs relating to cryptocurrency sites, and then it would try to steal that login data, as well. The malicious version of the MEGA Chrome extension was put in place at some point after Sept. 2, and Google has already taken it down. There’s no evidence the Firefox version of MEGA has been compromised. Chrome users of the MEGA extension should remove it immediately and change all account passwords.