Enterprise hits and misses - Coronavirus disrupts customer success and data privacy, while Zoom faces a self-inflicted security crisis

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed April 6, 2020
This week - Coronavirus turns customer success and data privacy on its head. Plus: Zoom faces its defining moment after a tsunami of security blunders. Corona-free picks are included - and some epic whiffs by big tech heavyweights.

Lead story - Customer success and data privacy - can they survive the pandemic?

MyPOV: Short answer: yes, both can - but not without our vigilance and push for better. Derek kicks it off with Coronavirus will change what 'customer success' means for business - value and purpose now essential. His thesis? Throw those highfalutin customer success metrics into the dumpster bin:

Much like the financial crisis in 2008 prompted a change in what 'customer success' meant, I believe that Coronavirus will once again fundamentally change purchasing decisions for buyers across most industries, impacting the nature of what' customer success' means.

After noting how local providers have come through with vital supplies/groceries while corporate chains flail, Derek turns his attention to B2B:

Business buyers will be looking closely at how their enterprise suppliers are responding to COVID-19. Are they being flexible with renewals? Are they relaxing subscriptions and taking a long term view that they want to see their customers through this? Has there been support and guidance throughout? Or have they taken a double down, reserve cash and cut costs approach?

Those things will matter on the other side of this and will impact future purchasing decisions.

Agreed - we're in a "give until it hurts" time for all of us lucky enough to have some resources. Let's see if B2B vendors figure that out also, because a couple of months of free software, while thoughtful, isn't going to be nearly enough. Meanwhile, Chris Middleton takes up a troubling topic: Data dilemma - is surrendering privacy a necessary price to defeat Coronavirus? Chris points to a reality across countries and cultures: we now know that privacy can be overridden in an epidemic, in the interests of saving lives. He writes:

Another interesting development in fighting the pandemic has been the voluntary adoption in the U.S., UK. and elsewhere, of applications that allow citizens to monitor their own health and symptoms from day to day, and share that data with researchers and health services, in order to track the spread of the virus.

That raises serious questions. Per Chris:

  • How long can/should privacy rules can be relaxed? 
  • How far are we prepared to go down this route?
  • And how do we prevent organizations taking the opportunity to grab large amounts of data?

I can't solve that here, but enterprises should consider what role they want to play, and err firmly on the side of data usage transparency. Either that, or become Zoom (more on them shortly).

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Virtual events are kicking in, starting with Adobe Summit:

Phil crashed took in Atlassian's virtual event, including analyst sesssions:

Two from ERP land:

A few more vendor picks, without the jibs and jabs:

Jon's grab bag - Den rolls out a vintage think piece in Dreaming of learning, partnership and invention as we all course correct: "Now is the time for CEOs and boards to reframe towards long term strategies, forsaking a slavish approach to the quarterly update."

"Coronavirus spares no industry" - Kurt hones in on a crucial one in Why mass (forced) adoption of remote working will accelerate nascent trends in the construction industry. And Barb's got tough love for content zombies marketers going through the motions in Marketers - slow down the content machine and refocus on your customers.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Zoom really sucks faces its defining moment

MyPOV: Seems like just a few weeks ago, Zoom was looking like a Corona-hero, enabling remote work at scale, albeit struggling with some bandwidth issues. Now it faces a defining moment.

I don't have space to list all the ways Zoom's security and privacy flaws have been exposed (a few have since been addressed by Zoom; others haven't). But: when the FBI singles you out (Zoom Has A Dark Side — And An FBI Warning - NPR), and a Senator comes calling ( U.S. Senator Says Zoom Deceived Users Over Its Security Claims - NPR), you're not doing so hot. Oh, and the New York City school system, citing security concerns, dumped Zoom for Microsoft Teams - TechCrunch). Via TechCrunch:

On Friday, Zoom's chief executive apologized for "mistakenly" routing some calls through China, after researchers said the setup would put ostensibly encrypted calls at risk of interception by Chinese authorities. Zoom also apologized for claiming its service was end-to-end encrypted when it was not.

Yowza. And:

Zoom also changed its default settings to enable passwords on video calls by default after a wave of "Zoombombing" attacks, which saw unprotected calls invaded by trolls and used to broadcast abusive content.

In my view, Zoom gets a hall pass for its bandwidth and scale issues of late. But not for any of these horrid security gaffes. Why? Those should have been anticipated and fixed long ago. Security-by-design: it's hard. It requires leaving money on the table at times, and resisting the alluring temptation of sleazing around with monetizing user data. But it's the only way.

Some I've spoken with don't believe Zoom has a defining moment. They believe Zoom has been exposed as corrupt to its core. If you're inherently corrupt, you can't redefine - you can only be exposed (and avoided). I'm not certain yet, but I do know that Zoom has only a matter of weeks to avoid tech infamy. Other tools - including open source options - are gaining traction, and fast. Kurt Marko is working on a Zoom piece for diginomica; that promises to be a must-read. Update: I should have noted that Zoom has made a commitment to stop all forward development and focus on addressing privacy and security for the next 90 days, so that's the timeline to watch.

Top non-Corona picks

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


Okay, gonna take a shot at Corona-humor: via the wild 'Goat Gang' Taking Over Streets Of A UK Town On Coronavirus Lockdown (bonus: terrific video of the goats eating basically everything). Then there's the man caught with a rucksack of cannabis explaining to police that ' I'm buying in bulk due to lockdown' (bulk indeed! check the photo). Oh, and Condoms and sex toys in demand from social isolators (sorry, folks, this story is behind the Financial Times paywall, and I doubt the items qualify for Amazon Prime right now at any rate).

I'm not sure if these kids have a case, but they get my fight-the-power award nonetheless: Two children sue Google for allegedly collecting students' biometric data.

A couple of folks got, how do I put this politely, butthurt irritated with this tweet, but I stand by it:

(Microsoft whiff)

"To the cloud" baby! Yeah, that's some tone-deaf stuff, and a missed opportunity for Microsoft to send a thoughtful message rather than a branded whiff. Microsoft Teams has had a difference-making month, but this was 365 marketing backwash.

Finally, I don't want to pick on Adobe too much here - this mishap is the rule not the exception, but, c'mon people.

(Adobe whiff)


Here's my mantra for vendors: live whiffs go over so much better than canned ones. And while we're at it:


See you next time...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Acumatica and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.