As e-Commerce Rises, Digital Savvy and Security Become Prime Goals

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A couple of interesting reports came out this week.

According to a report from Forrester, covered on, e-commerce now makes up 11% of all B2B sales in the United States. "We're seeing significant channel shift," said Andy Hoar, vice president and principal analyst serving e-business and channel strategy professionals at Forrester.

"People who used to buy offline... are now actually making those purchases in an online environment... When you're talking to a human, there's only so much that person knows. Online, you can go from site to site, you can do searches, companies can use algorithms to make recommendations, your order history is right there in front of you."

Other highlights from the report:

B2B companies still need to become more digitally savvy. "Companies need to future-model B2B buyer behavior and perform forward-looking SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses. They should also work with partners and industry experts to develop customer-focused processes, cultivate expertise with technologies designed to engage with B2B customers in real time, and shift their selling channels from legacy, offline-first models to ones that align with the expectations of... buyers."

There are three parts to the B2B e-commerce life cycle: the research phase, where customers decide what to buy; the actual purchase; and then the post-transaction servicing phase. "Some people would argue there's a fourth one, which is you'll tell people about it [through social media]," Hoar said.

Data and analytics experts will be front and center. As data becomes a bigger resource for content producers—both in the topics they cover and for the stories themselves—data experts will be needed to work with the content producers. Randall-Reilly and Money-Media are two SIIA member publishers I've spoken with where data experts assist editorial.


The IT Factor in Security Is Humans

The other report is titled, Human Factor in IT Security: How Employees are Making Businesses Vulnerable from Within and was conducted by B2B International and commissioned by Kaspersky. According to the report and an article on BizTech, in 46% of cybersecurity incidents in the last year, careless or uninformed staff have contributed to the attack. 

Almost half of companies with 1 to 49 employees say they feel unprotected from inappropriate IT use by employees. The number falls slightly for companies with 50 to 99 employees. Although Kaspersky obviously has an interest in pushing these results, there are still some good lessons:

Emphasize to staff that blame will not be assessed. Not surprisingly, the biggest problem is that employees hide IT security incidents in 40% of businesses worldwide. 

Find outside solutions. "Relying solely on employees' vigilance and their ability to report incidents when they happen is not enough, as the risks concerning both human factors and attack sophistication are doubling," the report states. Use dedicated solutions and technologies that automate system monitoring and reduce the chances of error or irresponsibility.  

Train staff. It raises awareness and motivates people to pay attention to cyberthreats and countermeasures even if they are not part of their specific job responsibilities.

Put out reminders. Installing updates, ensuring that anti-malware protection is on, and managing personal passwords properly shouldn't always be at the bottom of an employee's to-do list.

Be careful of what the report calls BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. "Essentially, the more a device is taken outside of the work environment, the more at risk it (and your data) is."

Recognize that policies cannot cover all the risks. Staff doesn't always follow policies to the letter. It is only through educating them about the importance of working safely, that businesses can help to mitigate the risk of this particular attack vector, and safeguard data.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…