Screenshot on 11.6.2013 at 11.59.11 AM

The Looming War Between Sales Teams and CIOs

CIO talk over the past couple of years has been centered around BYOD (bring your own device). How does a CIO deal with a workplace where everyone wants to use their own phone, tablet or computer? But the face of how sales teams work is changing, and it appears that we’re approaching the age of concern around BYOC – bring your own contacts.

WTF is BYOC?

The core answer to this question is simple – Salespeople are gathering contacts and they’re storing them where they are convenient and accessible. Though increasingly, those contacts are not being imported into the company’s CRM or marketing automation system, thus rendering the contacts worthless for the sales process.

Perhaps a worse case is that they are not being imported in the confines of security.

photo_iphone_441x581_v1-96e964d0e85af158ea10b31fc294c1acWe’ve recently seen a push from LinkedIn that we think is indicative of things to come. The release of LinkedIn Intro specifically circumvented security measures that CIOs have been working with for some time. Many (or perhaps most) organizations have found a way to deal with the BYOD culture, but Intro preys on a lack of technical understanding from its users.

To refresh your memory, LinkedIn Intro asks the user to prevent Apple’s built-in Mail program from checking mail. It then requires that the user give the same level of trust and security to a third-party application that it would give to Apple’s native solution by installing a security profile that routes their mail through LinkedIn’s servers. The payoff? A small “introduction” section that is displayed inside of an email, showing more information about the sender.

It’s a clever and gutsy implementation…even if it violates just about every tenet of security to which CIOs are beholden.

But the bad news is that it’s exactly the type of product that your sales team will want.

How Did We Get Here?

Because it’s convenient.

One of the reasons that we created the FullContact Card Reader application is because we saw that there wasn’t a good way to easily import business cards into Salesforce (or other CRM of your choice). Salespeople today are gathering contacts and making personal connections with them via sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter. They’re amassing huge silos of contacts on these sites, and they want to be able to access them within the confines of the tools that their jobs provide.

Enter convenience. It’s really easy to use something like LinkedIn’s CardMunch to scan in business cards for LinkedIn connections. But CardMunch only works with LinkedIn, so the silo of contacts exists solely inside of that walled garden. Pulling them over is a manual process that is the antithesis of convenient. Because sites are more concerned with locking people into their walls than they are with the portability of data, users will turn to whatever option exists that makes the process of migration easier.

Again – Salespeople want this information. They need it to do their jobs more effectively. They will take whatever route is necessary to make sure that this data is available to them inside of your organization’s tools.

A Taste of Things to Come

While Intro is perhaps the most invasive product that we’ve seen to date, it is merely the first of many to come. How do we know this? Because it’s exactly the space in which FullContact operates, and we watch this market closely. We’re going to start seeing more applications out in the wild that offer promises of convenience, but only provide it because of compromised security.

Recognized standards of security exist for good reason. Building products that circumvent these standards, while clever, only serves to undermine the very core of the CIO’s objectives within the company. While your CTO may find a way to work with the new technologies, it’s a process that takes time. In the interim, the CIO has to patch the holes that insecure practices will drill.

How Do We Fix This?

The short answer is simple – Use recognized standards of security and build products that salespeople will want. The bigger story, however, is that this simple explanation requires a lot of work to actually implement. There is a running joke in many industries about having products that are designed by engineers. That is to say that the product is safe, it is effective and it is an absolute nightmare to use. Creating products that are safe, effective and a joy to use is a much harder problem to solve.

Addressing the needs of the CIO, CTO and sales team requires cooperation from all sides. CIOs have to make sure that the employees are aware of security procedures. CTOs have to find a way to implement new technologies that people will actually want to use. Companies have to create products that the CIO, CTO and salespeople will all enjoy. The combination of all of these is daunting to say the least.

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At FullContact, we’re rising to the occasion. We have an innate understanding of portability, and we are building the FullContact Address Book with security as a paramount concern. Our job is to not only surprise and delight our users, but also the people who are in charge of keeping companies secure. It’s a job that we love, and we’re being told by early beta testers that we’re doing it well.

CIOs, we feel your pain and we’re building the product that both you and your sales team will want. Sign up for the beta and let’s opt for a cease fire instead of a war.

Image: cygnus921 via Flickr

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