man reading a newspaper on the bench
PHOTO: Roman Kraft

Things just keep getting worse for Facebook. According to the Mountain View, Calif.-based UpGuard Cyber Risk team, two more third-party developed Facebook app datasets have been found exposed to the public internet. One, originating from the Mexico-based media company Cultura Colectiva, is 146 gigabytes and contains over 540 million records detailing comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB IDs and more. UpGuard did not find Facebook passwords.

A separate backup from a Facebook-integrated app titled ‘At the Pool’ was also found exposed to the public internet via an Amazon S3 bucket. The At the Pool discovery is not as large as the Cultura Colectiva dataset, but it contains plaintext (i.e. unprotected) passwords for 22,000 users. At the Pool ceased operation in 2014 (last non-redirect web archived capture here), and even the parent company’s website is currently returning a 404 error notice.

This should offer little consolation to the app’s end users whose names, passwords, email addresses, Facebook IDs, and other details were openly exposed for an unknown period of time, the post reads.

In response to a query put to it by the financial news service Bloomberg, Facebook said that that the company’s policies prohibit storing Facebook information in a public database. It said that once it was alerted to the issue, Facebook worked with Amazon to take down the databases, adding that Facebook is committed to working with the developers on its platform to protect people’s data.

While the problem was purely accidental — as opposed to what appears to have been the deliberate misuse of  users data in the case of Cambridge Analytica — it will add to the already growing mistrust of Facebook in the both the business and consumer market.

Executives Find Digital Transformation Difficult

Everything these days is about digital transformation and digital workplace. Neither are easy. Recent research from New York City-based Celonis shows just how difficult that is. Findings of a global study of 450 C-suite executives and over 450 business analysts, found that many organizations have wasted significant resources on business transformation initiatives that have been poorly planned without a clear strategy set first, resulting in many organizations incurring huge costs with no real return. The Don’t Skip Square One report (free after registration) shows that:

  • 42 percent of C-suite executives admit they do not know where to start when developing their transformation strategy.
  • 41 percent of senior leaders believe that their business transformation has been a waste of time, resulting in significant financial loss for the 37% of businesses that have spent over $500,000 on transformation strategies in the last 12 months.
  • 79 percent of C-suite executives admit they do not review their internal business processes to understand what needs to be prioritized when setting initial goals and KPIs for their transformation programs.
  • With well over a third (37 percent) of businesses having spent over $500,000 on transformation strategies in the last 12 months, many organizations  that run the risk of incurring huge costs with no return are shying away from investing further.

In addition, the study demonstrated that most organizations are struggling with transformation initiatives because they are diving into execution before understanding what to change first. In fact, around eight out of 10 (79 percent) C-suite executives admit they do not review their internal business processes to understand what needs to be prioritized when setting initial goals and KPIs for a transformation program.

Celonis provides analysis of digital strategies and workplaces so it was always going to ask users about the role of analysis. It found:

  • Almost four in 10 (39 percent) business analysts said they are not regularly consulted to inform their organization’s transformation strategy.
  • More than six out of ten (63 percent) of business leaders admitted that front line workers are only involved in transformation initiatives because middle management or consultants tell them which changes to make.

Despite acknowledging this, businesses are still jumping straight into tactics. For example, almost three quarters of C-suite executives cite AI/machine learning (70 percent) and automation (71 percent) as areas they want to maintain or increase investment in. In contrast, less than a third (32 percent) of senior leaders state that they plan to invest more in getting better visibility of their processes.

This all goes back to one single issue that we have come across time and time again. Business leaders consistently fail to plan for new technologies and new strategies and — like before — it’s costing them money

Gmail’s Teenage Pranks

It’s been a big week for Gmail too. Apart from the fact that it is now an unruly 15-year-old teenager, it has also shelved Inbox, a feature it introduced in 2014. The demise has been long expected. In fact, Google announced last September that it was going to shelve Inbox because…well because it says the revamped Gmail that was introduced in April last year is better.

Inbox, when it was released, targeted the average corporate worker, who receives and sends hundreds of emails every day. It automatically categorizes messages as they arrive in the inbox. It was also a place Google used to experiment. In last year’s announcement it wrote, “Inbox by Gmail has been a great place to experiment with new ideas like snoozing emails to later, as well as try the latest AI-powered experiences like Smart Reply, Nudges and high-priority notifications to help you stay productive. ...Four years after launching Inbox in 2014, we've learned a lot about how to make email better — and we’ve taken popular Inbox experiences and added them into Gmail to help more than a billion people get more done with their emails every day."

It added that it would do away with it at the end of March. That data has arrived and Inbox is no more but the new Gmail that was introduced in April last year comes with many of the same features that were available in Inbox plus newer features like Smart Compose, which helps you draft emails faster.

Gmail was unleashed on the world 15 years ago on April 1 and is now used by around 1.5 billion people every day. To celebrate it offered a number of new additions including updated Smart Composes that “can now adapt to the way you write,” matching your individual writing style. 

It also offers a way of scheduling messages. The new feature to Gmail that allows users choose when an email should be sent. Just write your email as you normally would, then schedule it to arrive in your recipient’s inbox at a later date and time.

Yet again from Google these are small improvements aimed at making it easier to use Gmail and improve its traction in the enterprise. Google has been adding improvements to all its products in small increments over the past 15 years and just look where it is now. This doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.

Microsoft Adds AI To Outlook.com

However, it’s not just Google that is working on its email service — Microsoft has been working on Outlook too. Like many of its other products, and Office in particular, the recent upgrades will see the Redmond, Wash.-based company bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the service. In a blog post about the upgrades, Gabriel Valdez Malpartida explained: “In the next few weeks you’ll see new intelligent features across email and calendar that will help you save time. With these, you will be able to see relevant information you might need to prepare for a meeting directly in the meeting invite, create a meeting faster by clicking on a suggested reply in your conversation, or receive suggestions on where to meet.”

In practical terms this means Meeting Insights, which will use Microsoft Graph technology to allow Outlook to recommend relevant information for the upcoming meeting. There will also be new meeting scheduling with a "suggest replies" feature and, related to this, "smart time suggestions", which checks the calendars of the people involved with the meeting, then suggests days and times when all attendees will be free.

These updates follow on the heels of Microsoft’s refreshed Outlook for iOS, which features a new UI, app icon, and “sensory” feedback.

FileCloud Adds Mobile Features

Finally this week, Austin-based FileCloud, a cloud-agnostic enterprise file sync and sharing platform announced a number of new features for its mobile app, including full-text content search, single sign-on access, and mobile scanning capabilities powering collaboration for the mobile-first workforce.

The new mobile experience offers granular control and integration for enterprise IT administrators empowering multiple stakeholders to stay organized and productive.” New features of FileCloud’s enhanced mobile app include the following:

  • Full-text search - Improves employee productivity with the ability to easily locate a file by searching content or file name.
  • Single sign-on (SSO) -  Saves time, decreases tax on users and improves security and usability across the organization by allowing users to use one set of credentials across multiple mobile apps, including the FileCloud app.
  • Mobile in-app scanning -  Allows users to upload images of documents, receipts, notes and more with ease from a smartphone or tablet device.

FileCloud delivers real-time remote and mobile collaboration capabilities. As the amount of digital content grows within organizations, users waste significant time locating and accessing the right files. These new upgrades are designed to help with this.