In the heart of London, the grass doesn’t grow under one technology company’s feet for long. Hot on the heels of being named The Drum’s Marketing Solutions Company of the Year and after opening an office in Berlin, British data–driven solutions company, Ve Interactive has just acquired digital marketing and e-commerce company, Adaptive Consultancy and subsequently launched VeCommerce; the world’s first e-commerce platform to have integrated cart recovery software. The staff at Ve joke about working at the coalface, but the reality is they know they are part of an exciting high-tech data mine.
This acquisition is the latest installment in what is proving to be a fast-paced journey. Formed in late 2009, technically the company is still a start-up. It’s steered by serial entrepreneur CEO David Brown, who has a formidable reputation for whole-brained business thinking and who had policy-change suggestions included in an Enterprise Nation Small Business Report, delivered at the Conservative Party conference last October. Indeed one of Ve’s shareholders recently exclaimed that it was rare to meet someone with both creative ability and strategic fluency, but with the sound technical – fundamental foundation to be able to actually mastermind a vision too.
“Since Ve’s inception, it’s been like the equivalent of watching a motorbike, only to discover that it’s actually a rocket!”
As with most start-ups, Ve’s privately owned and Brown intends to keep it that way. VC bloodhounds sniff them out every week, but Brown turns them all down. “When you play in the fast-moving tech space you need to be able to stay agile in your strategic thinking and that means only ever involving people who really ‘get’ technology and stay current with it too. Ve is backing itself, we like to be in the driving seat.”
In a short thirty-four month career, Ve Interactive has already gained a glowing reputation in the e-commerce industry for being the only enterprise-level cart-recovery software company on the market. And this is a global accolade too. The company has since gone multinational, opening six offices worldwide from Sao Paulo to Stockholm, as well as operating six EU language desks from its Tech City HQ. Its software has also been the recipient of some of the most prestigious industry honours out there, including a British Interactive Media Association Award and a TechWorld UKTI Business Innovation Award, the latter presented by The UK Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable. The company’s impressive and growing roster of over 1,600 clients and 125 staff to date, also endorse these achievements.
It is this growth mindset that sees Ve constantly innovating. “We’re no one trick pony,” explained Brown “that would be professional suicide in the technology space.” Certainly the company seems to take tremendous pride in always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in e-commerce.
However, there has been recent confusion as to what qualifies as enterprise-level cart-recovery software, with some recent newcomers to the space misrepresenting their products and services to distract from what are actually alarmingly hard-core deficiencies in their software and hosting. Ve Interactive are therefore happy to distinguish and move themselves above the commodity crowd and let their pioneering track record speak for itself, but the company does have this word of warning for e-commerce merchants; “do your diligence, there are absolutely no short-cuts in data security and ultimately you are responsible for it, regardless of any third-party solutions you use.”
It’s this strive for excellence and innovation that led Ve Interactive to acquire Adaptive Consultancy. Also London-based, Adaptive was a digital marketing agency with an in-house team of strategists, designers, developers, project managers and marketers. They have all now joined Ve’s ranks. Adaptive also had their own proprietary e-commerce platform and an existing stable of clients. The fit was perfect.
“Short-term thinking in business provides short-term results, so at Ve we always look for ways to provide renewed relevancy to our clients” explained Brown, who lists hero brands from the consumer finance sector as clients. “Ve’s career began with the proprietary design of pre-submit, cookie-free cart-recovery and remarketing software, and this then led us to developing our own private merchant-reporting network. We have since expanded our roster of services to include Optimisation, Mobile, SEO and Social Media, meaning that Ve Interactive can now plan and deliver maximum ROI for our e-commerce clients, by not only recovering their abandoned transactions, but by getting their shopping carts to their most efficient as well across all platforms. In other words we help. And then we fix. And we’re totally unique in this approach.”
Now with the acquisition of Adaptive, Ve has launched its biggest coup to date with the launch of VeCommerce, the world’s first platform to have integrated cart recovery and remarketing software. This is a revolutionary step-change in the e-commerce industry’s ability to address the productivity needs of online merchants today.
Five years in development, the platform was created in order to provide a more flexible and intuitive solution for the market place. Designed with the marketer in mind and providing advanced reporting systems, other features include efficient product management, easy content editing, marketing integration, merchandising tools, multiple automated promotional options, centralised order management, customer management, management reports, trade logins and social network integration. All this, combined with Ve Interactive’s data-driven insight and services, means that VeCommerce will improve merchants’ prospects for customer acquisition, conversion and retention, making Ve Interactive one of the most exciting and active e-commerce and online efficiency companies in the marketplace today.
“We are thrilled to become part of the Ve Interactive vision,” enthused Roddy Scaife, CEO, Adaptive Consultancy. “Their proven operational expertise and international reputation for being best-in-class in shopping cart efficiency, with a record of generating returns that are among the highest in the industry, creates tremendous potential for growth opportunities. Where an online merchant can’t achieve satisfactory conversions with their current e-commerce platform, VeCommerce will now provide a powerful alternate solution.”
Scaife has now taken on the role of Creative Director at Ve Interactive.
Both companies share a responsible business culture that revolves around putting people first and there will be significant opportunities for career growth for their staff members as a result of this winning combination too. This approach trickles down into all aspects of the daily running of Ve Interactive. Brown and his fellow co founders also incubate four other businesses with strong online elements and Ve staff share in the ownership of these businesses too, which is not only great for their long-term wealth, but creates opportunities for them to gain greater business acumen as well.
The company also gives its pro bono services to the international development organisation Concern Universal to assist with their digital strategy and has so far guided the charity through a rebrand and a website rebuild, as well as setting them up with an affliate program and creating marketing assets for them.
“In the world of e-commerce, digital data professionals handle a great deal of personal information, and I believe that our success as an e-commerce industry is dependent not only upon companies consistently and continually demonstrating that they’re capable of processing that data responsibly, but in demonstrating that they behave responsibly too.
Once made, that kind of commitment should permeate every level of your business from the way you sell to clients, to the honesty of your advertising and marketing, to the way you treat your staff. Otherwise how can you expect clients to trust you? Fact is, the only way is ethics.”
For further information, you can follow Ve Interactive online at http://www.veinteractive.com .
What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021?
By Neill Lawson-Smith, managing director at CIS
The landscape is changing incredibly fast, with cybercriminals using the most up-to-date technology to hack systems. Here are the six areas those in finance should be watching out for…
The finance and insurance sector is increasingly becoming a notable target for cyber attacks. Many of these breaches happening are believed to be due to inadequate security measures when teams or businesses are using cloud services.
The financial industry is also being affected by changes in processes with more fintech, virtual banks, and other digital disruptors impacting the market. The landscape is changing incredibly fast, with cybercriminals using the most up-to-date technology to hack systems, so it is therefore up to the financial sector to keep up to avoid security breaches.
What does this look like for the year ahead in the financial sector? Here are the Six areas those in finance should be watching out for:
- AI securityand cyber defence
Both Cybercriminals and cyber defence are commonly using Artificial Intelligence (AI). In cybersecurity, it is used to identify new threats, as well as assess the effectiveness of the responses to threats, enabling them to foresee and essentially block attacks before they happen. It is also used to spot behavioural patterns and can quickly identify possible infiltrations.
Hackers have also started to use AI to make it easier for them to get past security systems in place. This year, it is likely that AI will be increasingly used as a means of gaining personal details (i.e. credit card details) as well as optimising spam phishing campaigns.
- Mobile cybersecurity in banking
With the number of consumers using their mobile devices for banking and financial transactions increasing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered society predominantly cashless, cybercriminals have been heavily targeting mobile systems. For example, mobile malware only targets mobile phone operating systems. The most common forms of mobile malware are virus and trojans, spyware and madware (mobile adware), phishing campaigns, and browser exploits.
This means it is now more important than ever to protect mobile devices to the same extent as traditional hardware.
The same protocols that are in place to ensure your staff PCs and laptops are secure now, need to also be applied to their mobile devices as well, such as:
- Ensuring the latest versions of the operating system and other applications are installed.
- Installing a firewall.
- Enabling mobile security software to protect against malware and viruses.
- Using password protected lock screens.
- Ensuring apps are only downloaded from official sites like Apple App store and Google Play.
- Multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to all your business networks by ensuring every transaction or login is supported by at least two security measures for access. It is one of the easiest security measures to implement within your business and is becoming more common within the financial sector for many transactions. The traditional username and password are becoming increasingly easy for cybercriminals to acquire, whereas adding an extra identification method, that is not easily accessible to the hackers, ensures an extra layer of protection.
The most commonly used multi-factor authentication methods are:
- Passwords – They should be complex and comprise at least eight characters and be a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
- One-time use code – A randomly generated code sent via SMS or email which is used only once. With weaknesses in mobile networks and email accounts, these can however be intercepted by hackers.
- App generated codes – a code generated by an app on a mobile phone often created by scanning a QR code that contains a ‘key’. As the key is stored on the phone itself this is less likely to be intercepted by a third party.
- Physical authentication keys – this is a USB which the user inserts every time they login from a new computer. Unfortunately, they don’t work on all devices without adapters (such as iPhone, MacBook or Android).
- Biometrics – Using a fingerprint, voice, or an eye dent is an effective identifier. They are extremely difficult to hack but if they are, they cannot be used ever again for anything.
- Information – this could be something that only the user would know – either a password or a piece of information.
Most of these methods are free or relatively cheap to implement and don’t require anything other than a mobile phone for the user. The added security of multi-factor authentication means even if a hacker has acquired a username/password combination there is still an extra security barrier preventing access.
- Refined testing
As the finance industry is constantly changing, then so too are the security threats. Financial cybersecurity is an ongoing commitment, so installing new anti-virus software and implementing MFA, and stopping there is not going to keep you protected for long. It requires ensuring software and firewalls are up to date as well as ensuring access is regularly updated. In addition to this constant maintenance regular testing of the systems is essential. All systems have vulnerabilities, and as these change, cybercriminals learn to overcome them, and therefore software develops.
One thing to remember is that it is not possible to be over-cautious when it comes to cybersecurity. Regular penetration testing essentially identifies any weaknesses in your systems before the cyber criminals do. It is essential to schedule penetration testing or vulnerability scans at least once a quarter unless compliance dictates otherwise. They can be carried out using a vulnerability scanner.
- Hiring the right people
It is crucial to have the right team on hand to ensure your systems are up to date, regularly tested and maintained is essential.
Your IT team should have the following skills and knowledge:
- Knowledge and understanding of the company’s IT infrastructure
- Knowledge of cybersecurity best practices
- Understanding of company processes and data flows
- Up to date knowledge of cybersecurity solutions
- Plan a Defence, Prepare for Attack…
Although businesses can take many precautions, there are limitations on skills, investment and timescales in implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity infrastructure, it is essential that appropriate procedures, policies and processes are established to ensure that an appropriate response is carried out in the event of a detection – whether manual or ideally automated – so that whenever an attack occurs, the appropriate and proportionate response is carried out immediately to limit any further damage or intrusion.
Data protection: it’s time to reassess your security strategy
By Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress
It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm of cybersecurity risk. External threats are heightened, but there’s also a higher level of internal risk too, exacerbated by home working. With most financial services organisations planning to continue with mass remote working for the foreseeable future, it’s important for security teams to review their strategy and assess whether it still works in this new landscape. When it comes to insider threat, there are three key areas that IT leaders should focus on: building a positive culture around security, understanding their organisation’s level of risk and protecting their people.
- Build a security-positive culture
Many organisations have unknowingly instilled a security-negative culture among their employees, where people are punished or shamed if they cause a security incident. While they might think that this would discourage employees from causing data breaches for fear of repercussions, this actually makes your organisation less secure. Our Outbound Email Security Report found that 62% of organisations rely on their people to report email data breach incidents – and if employees are too afraid to come forward, that means your business is at risk of developing a security blind spot.
A security negative culture won’t actually prevent data breaches caused by human error, something which organisations need to recognize as largely unavoidable without technological intervention; it just delays remediation, which makes every incident worse. By creating a security-positive culture, you can better engage and educate employees, as well as ensure you’re able to rapidly triage any incidents if they occur.
- Understand your risk
When mapping out your risk, you’ll likely find that the picture looks very different to how it did even a year ago. In the past, organisations have focused on their networks and their devices when it came to security strategy. While these are vital areas for consideration, what hasn’t been as well-addressed to date is the human aspect of risk, particularly human error. You need to look closely at the tools that your employees are using daily to facilitate digital communication with clients and colleagues, including when sending sensitive information.
Employees are specifically using email more than ever before – our recent research found that 94% of organisations are sending more emails due to Covid-19, with one-in-two IT leaders reporting an increase of more than 50%. With this expansion of email volumes comes an increase in the risk that an email containing sensitive data might be misdirected. Remote working has also heightened the threat – our research found that 35% of organisations’ serious email data breaches were caused by remote working. Why? The causes lie in their behavior and the environments in which they operate. Some individuals may feel they’re able to take more risks away from the “watchful eyes” of their Security team, and every employee is faced with a myriad of distractions that make them more likely to make a mistake.
It’s time for organisations to take stock of their risk by looking at where gaps in their security might exist – and provide safety nets for their employees that can automatically detect and mitigate inadvertent data breaches and risky behaviour.
- Protect your people
It goes without saying that not all data breaches are caused by malicious activity. An overwhelming amount of data breaches are caused by hardworking employees making honest mistakes, from sending an email to the wrong person to responding to a phishing attack. Unfortunately, human error is an unavoidable part of life, and mistakes will happen. In the past, many organisations have taken the approach that employee error can be ‘trained away’, embarking on comprehensive security training programs in the hope that security incidents might decrease.
Unfortunately, if that were the case, then employee activated data breaches would be a thing of the past! Organisations need to employ a multifaceted approach when it comes to avoiding accidental insider data breaches – education and training remain an important element, but ultimately businesses need to implement the right technology to provide a safety net for their people. Many organisations have legacy DLP solutions in place that cannot mitigate the risk as they fail to fully understand employees’ behaviour.
Often, these tools stand in the way of productivity, prompting users even when there isn’t a legitimate risk. When click fatigue sets in, these solutions become ineffective, with users ignoring prompts whenever they appear. Luckily, advances in machine learning mean that there’s technology available to prevent insider data breaches such as misdirected email, by deeply understanding the way that users behave and the context in which they share data, to ensure emails are sent to the right recipients with the right level of security.
The vast majority of organizations will never go back to every employee working full time within the office environment, instead post-pandemic we will see a myriad of different approaches – with some based in the office, while others work at home part or full-time, and as the world opens up again, their locations may change throughout the day. To mitigate risks from inadvertent errors to intentional data exfiltration, CISOs must address their security culture and protect their human layer with intelligent controls that mitigate employees’ behaviors and stop breaches before they happen.
Sumitomo Life Insurance Selects Talend to Build Company’s Data Infrastructure
Leading life insurer uses Talend in data lake environment for data analytics
Talend (NASDAQ: TLND), a global leader in data integration and data integrity, announced today that Sumitomo Life Insurance Company, one of the Japan’s leading life insurance companies, has selected Talend Data Fabric for its data analytics infrastructure.
Sumitomo Life aims to become the most trusted and supported company by its stakeholders, including its customers, and to grow sustainably and stably. Sumitomo Life’s vision is to offer advanced products to enable customers to live vigorously. To respond to that, the company is developing and delivering cutting-edge products that respond to its customers’ current and expected futures needs in areas focusing on nursing care, medical insurance and retirement planning.
“With the trust from our customers as the starting point of all our activities, Sumitomo Life is providing optimal life insurance services to every person through the sound management of the insurance business,” said Mr. Masakazu Ohta, General Manager in Charge of Information System Department at Sumitomo Life. “As a new approach, it was necessary to build a common foundation for big data management, and Talend is the driver. Talend’s superiority in cloud implementation, development productivity, features, and licensing model convinced us to be part of this journey together.”
To meet the needs of its customers and offer them innovative products and services, Sumitomo Life has decided to build a foundation for data analysis (Sumisei Data Platform) in the cloud for the promotion of new insurance products. The company evolved its legacy data environment to the new environment where they can store the data extracted from various systems both on-premises and effectively in the cloud.
In order to meet the needs of each individual customer and provide the best insurance for them, Sumitomo Life uses Talend Data Fabric as the hub of its data infrastructure. This manages data across the organization and integrates data into a data lake, which makes them able to utilize data across the company.
“We have been able to release projects with the continuous support of Talend, even amid the changing business environment in the Covid-19 crisis. We will continue to collaborate with Talend in order to actively promote company-wide data analysis projects,” added Mr. Ohta.
“The insurance market is one of the most competitive sectors. By facing tight regulations and complex customer needs, companies must be at the forefront of innovation to offer even more services and new products to its customers,” said Kenji Tsunoda, Country Manager Japan, at Talend. “Talend helped Sumitomo Life reinvent its data-driven infrastructure to provide a data management platform that enables the development of advanced products for its customers. We are delighted to support Sumitomo Life in the pursuit of their vision.”
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