Keeping Marketing Assets Secure in the Cloud

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Picture this: A salesperson at your top competitor accesses a price list on your extranet. With that knowledge, he offers your customers lower prices than your sales teams are quoting.

Or imagine that a competitor gains access to your marketing intranet from an ex-employee who recently joined their company.

These are the kinds of scenarios that worry marketing managers who are responsible for keeping their companies' marketing and sales materials safe and secure.

Some might think that using an Internet-based marketing portal or marketing asset management (MAM) system would increase this worry. After all, if your marketing and sales materials are managed and distributed via a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution on the Internet, rather than housed on your company's own servers, aren't they more prone to being viewed by unauthorized users? The answer may actually be no, according to some industry analysts.

"SaaS has benefits such as less data stored on a laptop, meaning less risk if that laptop is lost or stolen, and non-employees responsible for the solution means reduced risk of malicious activity by disgruntled employees," says Liz Herbert, an analyst with Forrester.

A Gartner report, "Forecast: Software as a Service, Worldwide, 2010-2015," released in July 2011, addresses security improvements as a factor driving SaaS adoption. In that report, research vice president Tom Eid writes, "Initial concerns about security, response time and service availability have diminished for many organizations as SaaS business and computing models have matured and adoption has become more widespread."

Product Pricing Kept Private

Kathie Stabile, marketing services manager for Mettler-Toledo PRO, manages her organization's marketing assets, including brochures, data sheets, presentations, and sensitive information such as pricing and availability.

To provide secure access to product pricing and availability for external sales reps., Mettler-Toledo recently migrated these materials from an extranet to a secure SaaS-based marketing portal. Automated handling of this confidential data plus the marketing portal's security controls provide a much higher level of security than the previous approach, and provide fine-grained access control at the user level.

"Because our external sales people can now access what they need in a self-service manner, there is less burden on our internal people to assist our sales reps in providing sales tools and quotes to our customers. This allows our customer service staff to focus on other important duties, " Stabile said.

Secure Access to Dealer Portals

The marketing organization at Thermo Fisher Scientific's Scientific Instruments Division has capitalized on the security capability of its marketing asset management set-up recently. Their system currently stores over 3,400 marketing assets and has over 900 users, including 32 content managers, 280 marketing users, 500 users in sales, and 125 dealers.

An advanced access control capability provides each of the division's dealers with their own customized portal where they can access materials for the products they sell for Thermo Fisher. Upon login, each of the 125 dealers is recognized by the asset management system and is routed to the appropriate marketing, sales and product information.

"The system also automatically updates all dealer passwords, pushing them out to users on a regular basis," says Pixie Kempel, senior marcom specialist with Thermo. "This adds an extra layer of security. None of this would have been practical to do on a manual basis."

Automating Handling of Assets and Accounts

At National Residential Mortgage, a member company of Heartland Financial USA, Inc., mortgage rates change — sometimes several times daily depending on market conditions. Each time they do, their National Residential Mortgage branches and Heartland's 10 member banks have to be informed immediately of the new rates. To add complexity to the task, each bank and branch is delivered specific rates, based upon their geographic market. As a result, sending accurate, updated rate sheets previously occupied most of a marketing staff member's workday.

The company used their marketing asset management system to automate the process.

"Now, when new rates come out, the rate sheet files are transferred electronically to our system," says Brooke Joy, director of mortgage marketing. "The correct updated rate sheet is then sent only to authorized recipients at each bank or branch via an email alert. This alert includes a link to the rate sheet for their specific location. Thanks to the secure ID and login assigned to each user, the security of the whole process has been elevated, and it has eliminated the possibility that incorrect rates will be received by any of our staff members."

Seeing the success of the rate sheet automation, Brooke next set up a recruiting zone within her MAM system. The MAM system generates a user name and password so prospective employees can access the zone in order to access applications and view information about the bank or branch to which they are applying for employment. The MAM system automatically disables access for each user after two weeks.

Scott Richardson is CEO and president of Longwood Software.



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