Earlier this month CMSWire’s Kaya Ismail made a very strong case for making WhatsApp part of an organization's marketing strategy.  WhatsApp is now more than just a messaging app — even if it started life that way — offering a host of functionality that modern marketers will find useful.

But there's more to it than that. 

Slowly but surely, WhatsApp is transforming itself with the addition last year, for example, of simple file sharing. The new functionality enables users to attach PDFs to messages.

It was a useful, but for most users it didn't go far enough. Until this week, that is. 

Over the past week the Mountain View, Calif.-based messaging service has added a number of upgrades that will raise its game considerably.

The first change is that users will be able to share files of any type, not just PDFs

In the latest release of WhatsApp (2.17.40), files can be sent uncompressed. However, there will be a limit of 100 MB per file, which is on the smaller side for high def photos and many videos, but generous get most people sharing. 

It has also introduced photo viewing and sharing capabilities. Users can now select photos and videos form the apps camera interface offering the ability to view photos in a scrolled list. More than five photos shared at once will now be displayed in a gallery within the message.

WhatsApp will also stop compressing photos, allowing your original quality to remain intact.

With these two updates boost app stickiness as users will have much less reason to exit the WhatsApp environment to share files and media. And the changes bring WhatsApp on par with similar services such as Google (Google Allo), Microsoft’s Skype, Snapchat and Telegram, which also allow document and file sharing.

But for the moment at least, WhatsApp is still top dog, largely because of Facebook's heft and ongoing improvements to security and video calling over the past year.

With Facebook's monthly active user (MAU) growth expected to slow over time, the company will be looking to increase stickiness and interactions across its apps and properties as its primary means of expansion.

Still not convinced WhatsApp is useful for marketers? It might not have everything you want now, but its heading that way. Keep your eye on it.

Google, AWS Expose Sensitive Data

Not everyone is having a good week. 

Google's got some egg on its face. The company was just getting over the Gmail phishing scam from early this year, when it landed itself in trouble with Groups, which the security firm, Redlock, has found to be exposing sensitive personal data in some instances.

In an advisory, Menlo Park, Calif-based RedLock said several companies have allowed outside access to messages posted on their Google Groups forums. 

The advisory reads:
"The RedLock CSI team discovered hundreds of Google Groups that have publicly exposed messages containing sensitive information. The Impact The Google Groups misconfiguration has led to the exposure of sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII) at hundreds of organizations." 

The exposure of data is the result of a minor configuration issue where the sharing option for "Outside this domain - access to groups" was apparently configured with a more relaxed setting then most data security policies would call for.

"The RedLock Cloud Security Intelligence (CSI) team discovered that many organizations have accidentally set this field to “Public on the internet”, exposing messages containing sensitive information such as PII (name, email, home address, etc)."

To regulate the problem all that needs to be done is  to set the Outside this domain - access to private.

Google isn't the only company that is accident prone, though. Amazon Web Services has suffered a recent embarrassment by the exposure of a data repository belonging to financial publishing firm Dow Jones & Company

According to Upguard, a cyber security startup based in Mountain View, California, the data exposure was also due to a misconfiguration.

“The exposed data repository, an Amazon Web Services S3 bucket, had been configured via permission settings to allow any AWS “Authenticated Users” to download the data via the repository’s URL," an Upguard blog post reads.

In this case the authenticated user is "any user that has an Amazon AWS account", and the information that was exposed, according to Upgrade, impacts many of Dow Jones customers.

Dow Jones has confirmed that at least 2.2 million customers were affected. However, UpGuard calculations put the number closer to 4 million accounts.

"The exposed data includes the names, addresses, account information, email addresses, and last four digits of credit card numbers of millions of subscribers to Dow Jones publications like The Wall Street Journal and Barron's."

From this there is one obvious conclusion — if you are going to use cloud services, you really must employ people that know what they are doing, have clear and regularly revised policies and perform configuration audits of all systems holding or processing sensitive information. 

Microsoft Partners with Dun & Bradstreet

Speaking of data in the cloud, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has just signed a new partnership with data and analytics specialist Dun & Bradstreet to give organizations direct access to Dun & Bradstreet data through Microsoft's cloud services.

There are three different elements to the partnership:

  • Dun & Bradstreet will use Microsoft's Azure as its cloud platform
  • Dun & Bradstreet data will be made available through Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft's Common Data Service
  • Microsoft and Dun & Bradstreet will enter into a co-selling arrangement beginning later this year

The partnership is the culmination of four years of digital transformation, according to Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan.

It all goes to show, yet again, that data and data access is key to digital transformation strategies and making organizations more efficient.

In the same statement, Judson Althoff, Microsoft EVP of Worldwide Commercial Business pointed out that "digital transformation is not simply about technology — it requires business leaders to re-envision existing business models."

In other words, disrupt or be disrupted — change is here.

OpenText To Buy Covisint

Finally, this week, Detroit, Mich.-based Covisint has been bought by Waterloo, Ontario-based OpenText.

The acquisition, initially announced at the beginning of June, will see OpenText acquire the company for $103 million.

The deal is expected to go through without a hitch, but shareholders were due to vote on it on July 25. More to the point, in a statement Covisint's board have recommended that shareholders accept the OpenText offer. The result of the vote has yet to be announced.

Covisint has developed a cloud platform for building Identity and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It was founded in 2000.