Blake Dowling, Author at Florida Politics

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com

Blake Dowling: Tech and the next threat

For the next threat, both our state and nation are constantly sleeping with one eye open.

The threat landscape consists of digital, cultural, and of course good old Mother Nature. At the top of the list: hurricanes, terrorism, human trafficking, and even the current opioid epidemic in Florida.

Tech Industry leaders and our government are doing their part to help — when possible.

Lately, Twitter has been a hotbed for recruiting young folks to ISIS. To counter that effort, the company shuts down any accounts created to promote extremism or violence.

Hopefully, Abu (see below) was first on the list.

Example of a deleted terrorist account

Some of those that were cyber-yanked were at the request of the government, but Twitter removes others on its own. They have automated tools to look for that type of content, as well as actual humans who view activity — called “content moderators.” Talk about a tough gig.

Twitter is reporting that they shut down over 300,000 accounts in the past six months for just this reason. Man, our world is certainly full of a**holes; 300,000 hate-filled social media accounts is staggering to consider.

And just this morning, I was reading about the positive work of Operation Airdrop in Florida. They are bringing supplies to the state’s rural areas affected by Irma, people without power, fuel, access to grocery stores, etc. since the storm hit.

Then there is this glaring stat from Twitter about negativity in our world.

Oh, well, it’s a good reminder (if your head is in the sand) to get it out of there, and always be on the lookout for trouble.

As James Cronin’s book “The Passage” says: All Eyes. (It’s worth a read if you’re into post-apocalypse vampires.)

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum with alleged undercover FBI agent, Mike Miller.

Thank you Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for zero tolerance for this type of behavior.

If you visit FloridaPolitics.com regularly, I am sure you have read pieces on Attorney General Pam Bondi and her office fighting the good fight regarding our state’s opioid crisis.

They have a new ally in this fight in the form of an app — called OD Map.

OD Map focuses on High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and monitors overdoses and other analytics.

Why is this data important? There were 52,000 overdoses in 2015, mostly from heroin, oxy, or some type of pain medication. If hospitals and other agencies can get overdose stats in real time, they can take more proactive measures to save lives.

For example, they can have the drug Naloxone on hand in areas spiking with overdoses. Naloxone is the FDA-approved medication used to block or reverse effects of an opioid overdose.

Also, for law enforcement, if there is an area with lots of overdoes, it might be time to send in undercover FBI agent Mike Miller to help shut down dealers. (That’s a little North Florida CRA investigation humor for you).

Last week, I wrote about some hurricane apps last week – Waze, Zello, etc. – so we won’t go back there.

Just remember, technology (apps, artificial intelligence and more) is always available to help (when used properly) in the global fight against all things evil, ridiculous and just plain wrong.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Blake Dowling: Lessons from Irma; tech tips for the next storm

Irma was a monster; some parts of the state were lucky, others were not. My prayers are with all those impacted by the storm.

Shout outs to our state and local leaders for keeping everyone in the loop; a lot was learned from Hermine last year. I personally thought Gov. Rick Scott did a great job with communication and his relentless messaging. That is what it’s about. Keep the people in the loop. Same with county officials, they also did a great job.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was also all over the place keeping the people in the know.

Nice work Government.

On Monday, I was talking on Twitter with Skip Foster of the Tallahassee Democrat about Irma (during the storm), because you honestly could not get a straight answer on the Weather Channel for what was about to happen in North Florida (meaning that after a rough sunrise, we got hit).

Skip was like “look at the radar,” it’s gone. Meanwhile, several other media outlets were still saying the worst was yet to come. It was what they were saying all weekend.

But then … poof … never mind, show’s over folks.

I don’t think I ever need to see another reporter doing the “I’m in the really strong wind stance” while covering a storm. Really? Isn’t that sensationalism at its core? I only want to see it if it’s Geraldo (that guy can cover anything).

But, seriously, when a storm is barreling down on you, it would be nice to just have the facts. Thanks, Skip.

So, as for the facts next time, grab the latest app and keep informed when a storm rolls around.

For crisp hurricane coverage, try Storm Radar — hurricane tracker, updates, radar etc. — it’s sharp and easy to navigate.

For finding fuel, which is still an issue, try GasBuddy, it will tell you where to find gas, and in the non-storm world, it can help you find the cheapest gas.

Another monster app that is really helping people in places like the Keys where cell towers are destroyed is called Zello. As long as there is a wireless network of some kind going (you can use your cellphone as a hot spot, you know), you can use this walkie-talkie app to communicate with others that have it. Innovation at its finest. Very cool.

Considering our interstates are still clogged, Waze can help navigate the roads and find shortcuts when available. These apps can all help you bring some calm, before, during and after the storm.

Lastly, you need Bottle Flip, a time-wasting gem of an app, for something to do besides watch the trees bend into Cirque De Soleil/Forest Road Show-like shapes.

Current high score 228. Try and beat it.

I wish our state and island neighbors a speedy recovery, help where you can and prayers for all those who were in the path of this storm and the next one, whenever that comes.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com. Blake enjoys electricity, cold beverages, television and fuel for his car. The end.

Blake Dowling: Staying powered during Irma

On Friday, I was chatting with the ABC 27 WTXL team about Irma, and what you should do about your mobile devices in case of a power outage.

For the best experience, get a generator, and keep everything charged up 24/7.

But, if you don’t have one available, here are a few tips to get the most juice out of your mobile device.

Turn off Wi-Fi, your phone is constantly looking for wireless networks, and this takes horsepower to do. Also, don’t have 20 windows open, look for the news you need from the Weather Channel app and (of course) FloridaPolitics.com, but stay off Instagram, and Pandora (streaming is bad for power consumption). That can wait until civilization returns to normal. We don’t need to see your Insta pic of your storm supplies: “Look he has bourbon and soup, how cute.” No.

Be smart with the power that you have, if a tree falls on your garage, you will be glad you can call your insurance company to report it and take photos of the scene.

As the storm gets closer, make sure you at full charge for tablets and phones. Also, if you have any USB battery packs, plug those in so they are ready for the recharge when needed. You may have a few from conferences you forgot about; go dig them out of the drawer. They are sold out at the store, so don’t bother.

To that end, I almost saw two people go to town over D batteries this morning. Come on now.

It will be tempting to stream TV Monday on those mobile devices (if the power is out), but keep in mind that kills power. Keep streaming to small bursts and rely on websites for the latest weather news.

Also, if power is on, but the cable is out, you might get the bright idea to plug your phone into your TV and stream away. I did this for the Ole Miss — FSU game last year via WatchESPN.

But when the bill came — oops. My data plan is pretty robust, but steaming eight hours of TV kicked it over the max.

Go to your settings function (iPhone), click “Battery” and put it on low power mode; this is a must. Also, hit the Display and Brightness section (also under settings) and make it dim. These two acts alone will give you tons of extra juice for emergency communication, and even some solitaire. That doesn’t use much power, just a few hands though.

Irma will be as bad as it gets, hit the roads if you can and get out of harm’s way. All the cellphone power in the world cannot battle 9-foot storm surges. Check on your neighbors, be kind to strangers, and be careful out there.

We will see how it goes over the next few days and my prayers to all of those in the path. Stay safe.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com. He is bummed that the Gators are not playing Saturday, but he understands (sigh).

Blake Dowling: A sense of balance in customer service goes far

Last week, I chatted with legal ace and FloridaPolitics.com contributor Florence Snyder.

We discussed what happens when technology and innovation in business stop assisting the process and becomes a nuisance (or worse).

One example is when a security company calls you during the day, you see the name pop up on your phone; you panic, thinking you are being robbed or your house is on fire.

You quickly answer to learn it’s only a short, automated survey.

How about texts with updates? I love getting texts from Haute Headz (haircut spot in Tallahassee) about an upcoming appointment; it’s a great reminder. I do not love a text from Walgreens telling me that my prescription is read and, when I arrive, they never heard of me. This happened again just yesterday.

Figure it out, already.

Obviously, a sense of balance is just as important in business as it is in life. Finding the perfect mix of tech to give harmony versus hysterics (or hostility).

At our firm, we offer a web portal where clients can access all things via an intranet. Even then, I make sure to give out my cell number also to each organization we serve; sometimes, you just need someone to answer the phone.

I am certainly not claiming anything near perfection, but we strike a good balance.

My grandfather’s father’s store, he was in the mule business.

I recall a few years ago when my grandfather JD — who was well into his 90s — received a call from J.C. Penney about a past-due account. He politely told them it was not, but they insisted, informing him they were going to put a negative mark on his credit. This got JD fired up. He then unloaded a barrage of colorful language on that J.C. Penney rep (it would have made Andrew Dice Clay blush).

Bottom line is this: JD was a client for 60 years, and should have been treated with more courtesy. Right or wrong.

JC Penny would have been lucky if their problems stopped with my grandfather, but they certainly have not.

Florence shared another very personal story from 10 years ago involving her mother’s Book of the Month Club package, which arrived three days after she died. She called the company’s 800 number.

Florence, who had not slept in days, was crying.

I could almost hear the operator tapping keys as she expressed condolences while searching for the obit.

Seconds later, the operator said: “I’ve canceled your mom’s membership. Keep the books and do not worry about the bill. It’s taken care of. I am so sorry for your loss.”

That’s how you do it. Balance, email alerts, mobile apps, texting, websites with good ol’ fashioned face-to-face customer service.

Thanks to Florence for sharing her experiences with me (and us); I look forward to our next dialogue.

See you out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Insurance for your digital mouth

You can get a cyber insurance policy to protect your organization if hit with ransomware or cyber security threat.

This can help recoup lost dollars, data, productivity and any other repercussions from a cyber intrusion/breach. There may be more fallout once the damage is assessed, firings (see Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her never-ending journey down the cyber rabbit hole) new policies put into place and other measures to prevent a future incident.

But what happens when someone sues you over a tweet? Does this happen? Yes.

As our world evolves, being held liable for what’s said on the web is becoming more common. It is certainly worth noting the fact that internet ranters and trolls may be silent in the real world, but on the digital platform, that’s where it gets ugly.

Someone may have a complete online meltdown online and cross a line — maybe Sally or Sammy Respectful during the day, but at night behind their Twitter handle of @HELLFIREMEDIA they might be putting you at risk (if they work on your staff, team etc.).

Being mouthy online can come with baggage. If you are also affluent, that makes you a bona fide target.

Let’s think about rocker Courtney Love who owns the publishing rights to the Nirvana catalog (inherited from her deceased husband Kurt Cobain). Rich and mouthy, affirmative.

Raise your hand if your rich and mouthy.

Love has been a party in three defamation suits, coming from irresponsible Twitter use, one settled for only $780,000.

Ack.

So, today’s advice (free of charge), be very careful what you send out to the cyber-verse, specifically if it paints someone else in a negative light.

While it appears most online libel suits are rarely successful — as proving malicious intent is difficult — even weak cases that don’t see the light of day involve legal fees.

Large insurance providers offer personal injury umbrellas, which usually include libel coverage. It is certainly something to consider, as once something that once only concerned journalists now is something that anyone with a social media account should be aware.

The President had a case land on his desk. You can read more about here.

I am not picking sides here — Debbie, Donald or Courtney. They all could use a lesson in manners from my grandmother (rest in peace, Nana). Name calling did not sit well with her (with a few exceptions, of course; she yelled at my grandfather a lot. All in good fun, I think). #DifferentTimes.

Check out some added insurance if you or your staff push the envelope on social media; as a public service reminder, remember to be kind to one another online and in person.

The world could use it.

THE END

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Blake Dowling: The official column of hotel tech, Tally, Japan and the FBI

This past weekend, I attended the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference. As usual, it was a very positive experience.

It was my 11th consecutive conference, and to be surrounded by so many clients, elected officials, and business partners all in one place is a rare opportunity. Putting differences aside, you can spend a weekend together pushing forward the agenda of making North Florida a better place.

Yours truly casting a cyber security spell at a breakout session using lots of unneeded hand gestures

People on different sides of the political aisle, business rivals, competitors – everyone taking a moment to step away from their divisions and focus on what can bring us together.

The only oddity there was that it was recently revealed an undercover FBI agent visited the conference last year posing as Mike Miller, a developer.

Hopefully, all those in question will be vindicated as Tally is taking a brand hit with its high crime rate and these investigations. Emcee Gary Yordon defused the events in question lightning fast.

Yordon put some lipstick on the situation with a hilarious introduction. He asked all elected officials to stand; next, he asked all Leadership Tallahassee graduates to stand; then (drum roll) he asked all “undercover FBI agents” to stand. ZING.

So the elephant in the room became more like a Pomeranian in the room; still there, but small and annoying, versus large and in-charge.

That’s not FBI agent Mike Miller that’s a Robot Dino Check in Bot … and he says the elevators are to your left.

Gary, the staff at the Omni and the team at the Tallahassee Chamber did a first-class job with the event. Well done.

As with any trip, I try to keep an eye on any new tech innovations in the hotel industry, and this weekend, I spotted a winner — a full miniature keyboard on the back of the remote control.

Why is this not the standard?

It takes forever (or at least 15 to 20 seconds) to type in a show name on a standard remote with its numbers pad for a Netflix or Xfinity search. So, the keyboard is a game changer.

Just like a TV in the mirror spotted at a Marriot earlier this year; the world needs this now.

OK, so these are “cool,” but I cannot talk about hotels any further without leaving the world of FBI, the Chamber, business and politics.

Now to go across the world to our friends in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan.

New tech in hotels is pretty neat, but what about a whole hotel that bursts with tech. Meaning a hotel run by artificial intelligence.

It’s not in beta mode, it’s not some wacky idea, it is open right now and can be yours for $350 (U.S.) for a two-night stay, according to booking.com.

The Hotel is called “Henn-na Hotel” and it is in Sasebo, Japan. The neighborhood is a Disney-like area, complete with all sort of theme parks. Hotel owners claim it to be the most efficient hotel in the world. You are checked in by creepy, I mean, cutting-edge fem-bots or dino-staff. Most of your interactions are with AI. The hotel claims it is 90 percent automated.

For example, there is a wacky little robot in your home that helps with wake-up calls, air conditioning, etc. There is also a robot porter, automated cleaning service, and even a robot arm that passes for a coat check. (They do not mention a robot bartender, there is a missed opportunity for awesomeness. I think a Godzilla AI bartender would be cool.)

Moving on … there are a handful of humans on staff in case something goes south, which is reassuring. There are not even keys in the hotel, the doors are AI doors with facial recognition functionality built-in. This hotel has horror movie written all over it. Keenen Ivory Wayans (who wrote Scary Movie) Are you listening, man? This script writes itself. Once you check-in, THEY will not let you check out …

The world might not be ready for AI hotels, but the world does not ask permission; it just keeps rolling along, disruption, conferences, scandals, robot hotels, elections, North Korean threats, FBI investigations and everything else.

Keep your nose clean and buckle up.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and he gave six back-to-back presentations on cybersecurity at the previously mentioned conference, so his voice is shot. Email, please; don’t call with questions.

Blake Dowling: How (and when) to do social in 2017

Social media accounts are rocking and rolling; you have lots of followers.

But do you have a strategy for your messaging?

Or are you barreling down the Twitter Highway, Eastbound and Down, Smokey and the Bandit-style or do you have a plan? As with all things, taking a strategic approach couldn’t hurt.

For today’s purposes, I speak to professional posting.

However, for some of us, it is a blurry line, where personal and professional seem to blend together; am I right?

Writers, Bloggers, Business owners, Politicos, Hackers, Bowlers, etc.

Sometimes our craft and personal interests are closely linked.

So … A) This means we have chosen our career path very well and are yin-and-yang-ing through the cosmos all balanced and what not. Or … B) We are pathologically obsessed with our work and concurrently are mild egomaniacs that need to get a grasp on human existence.

Or a balance of the two, perhaps?

Pam Bondi and most politicians have it down, with personal and professional accounts for all things tweeting, but methinks that separation requires a team of staffers and assistants. Anyway, let’s look at some cool examples from a couple of guys named Steve.

Steve Israel is a former congressman from New York (just retired) who manages to balance facts, humility, and randomness in perfect harmony. You should follow this down-to-earth chap.

Steve Martin made “The Jerk.” He helped set up “Saturday Night Live.”

It should come as no surprise that the 71-year-old Martin is a master at Twitter. Have you seen him play live with his bluegrass band? They rock.

Back to the chart on Facebook posting. You want to maximize those SLCs (share, likes, comments) — take a look at windows of opportunity and get to branding, or sharing pictures of your cat (Mr. Snickers) going to war with a couch.

Whatever floats your boat.

It appears Thursday and Friday (afternoons) are the money days for post effectiveness; on the other hand, Mondays and Tuesdays are the no-go zones.

Back to Twitter, the below chart is wise.

I can’t tell you how many times during basketball season when I “DVR’d” (now a word) a game only to glance at Twitter and have my self-imposed media blackout destroyed in a nanosecond.

I follow way too many sports “experts.”

Studies show that noon-1 p.m. are the most popular times to tweet; those same studies show that during those times, 3 out of 4 people are more likely to glance at Twitter.

So, you may have a tougher chance of your message getting through the masses around lunch.

That said, utilize the 3-4 p.m. window for your messaging.

That’s about it, as you run amok through the social media world, don’t forget to think strategically, keep it lively, use hashtags, keep content fresh, don’t be a cyberbully and — most importantly — have fun.

See you out there in Insta-Face-Twitter land.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and he loves gladiator movies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Disruption and artificial intelligence

Uber, Netflix, Amazon Go, Legal Robot, Watson, Einstein, Starship … all examples of disruption and the artificial intelligence that is changing the legal, medical and business world every day.

Maybe you have heard of some (or all) of them; they all have an interesting story.

Whether it’s a smart grocery store, robot doctor or automated delivery service, these entities — along with many other — bring to the table constant innovation, as well as disruption.

I will focus on two, so I will not bore you with a novel.

No. 1 on the list is Einstein. Do you run staff meetings? Work with campaign volunteers, lobbyists, sales people or agency directors? Regardless of which world you find yourself in, some of those around you may be too grim, too optimistic, or will just tell you what you want to hear.

Each week, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff holds a Monday morning staff meeting with his top execs. After hearing reports, Benioff turns to his advisers and asks them what they think.

This is pretty normal behavior, except that adviser is a robot named Einstein.

For a CEO, typically the way it works is, of course, you have various people, mostly politicians and bureaucrats, in your staff meeting who are telling you what they want to tell you to kind of get you to believe what they want you to believe. Einstein comes without bias. So, because it’s just based on the data, it’s a very exciting next-generation tool” Benioff says (quoted in Business Insider).

Does this mean the days of assistants is gone? Political Advisers? Police? Would you rather have an unbiased fact machine or a human who might be biased, racist, drunk, call in sick, moan and groan, take vacations and embellish. Or an automated 24/7 powerhouse of truth, which sees all as-is?

Let the debate begin.

Moving on to the grocery store.

No long ago, I wrote about the Amazon Go concept store, where the grocery game will soon change again thanks to Simbre, an outfit out of Cali with a product called Tally.

Tally is a supply chain efficiency guru, roaming the aisles, stocking items, confirming prices, yanking out-of-stock items; tasks that a human does now.

Is this a concept you may be thinking? Negative, it is a reality. A small chain in the Midwest called Schnuks Groceries is right now rolling out a six-week demo right now.

Results of this demo could have a profound effect on the entire industry, with cost savings plus a surge in efficiency that will put Schnuks on the worldwide map in a big way.

Publix and Kroger execs will be baffled by the beat down by these innovative upstarts. Or they will claim they came up with the idea. Hopefully, Schnuks doesn’t get snookered.

As Picasso once said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

That’s it for today, campers. I hope all this talk of disruption and innovation hasn’t spooked you too much. If you happen to be in St. Louis, go to 6600 Clayton Road in Richmond Heights and check out Tally cruising the aisles. I wonder if you can hack Tally?

Sounds like a column for next time; I can see the headline now: “Robot destroys Twinkies and stores reputation.” Clean up on aisle 4, indeed.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com. Dowling is a firm supporter of Showtime broadcasting college football games with comedians Adam Sandler and Katt Williams providing commentary. The end.

Blake Dowling: Embarrassing moments of 2017

For those in the spotlight, the internet is not so fun. Not a moment can go by when the world isn’t critiquing politicians, athletes, celebrities and various other public figures.

I joke with my fraternity brothers (with whom I hold football season tickets) about how it was such a blessing to have attended college right before smartphones, social media, etc.

I remember Friday afternoons and calling my girlfriend; if she didn’t answer (or if I didn’t see her at Po Boys/Brick City/Purple Porpoise/Salty Dog Saloon), I would not hear from her until the next day. Amazing.

Going out on a limb here; I seem to remember there might have been a rowdy night was on the calendar. Guess what? No one posted about it, no one saw it, it only lives where it should, in our memories.

But these days, to get a glimpse of what college kids are up to today — via sites like Total Frat Move or Total Sorority Move — is almost unbelievable. Do these kids realize they will need jobs someday?

A digital reputation follows you everywhere. Anyway, returning to my point before I started thinking about “college” … elected officials and scandals. The web really puts it out there.

Let’s take a look:

Who can forget Chris Christie and working together for bongs, deleted fast, but not fast enough; the internet is unforgiving.

The former first lady and the turnip:

While this is the least embarrassing of today’s examples, it still is so not funny that it makes you cringe. But I guess she and someone else thought it was funny. If you haven’t seen the revamp of the Gong Show, check it out. I bring this up because this clip is obviously gong-worthy.

Moving on to more recent events … the current resident of the White House posted:

“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump said in a commencement speech Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

“No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. “No politician in history. None eh?

(Hmmmmm … and yes, surety is a word I just looked it up.)

And, of course, the “basket of deplorables,” while not an actual post on the internet through memes and constant press it might as well have been. Thanks to the relentless online commentary it was blasted out to the masses, again and again, and again and again …

What is one to do?

As I tell people if you want ultimate security from online threats and a zero percent chance of digital embarrassment? There is a solution. It’s free too.

It’s called “stay off the internet.”

Practice those speeches boy and girls, double-check those posts and — if you are in a highly visible position — have someone else approve them also.

There is also the don’t post/text after 10 p.m. That is a good rule, it should block any post motivated by a cocktail (or two). I occasionally appear on local TV here in Florida, so I know all about saying stupid things on TV.

Keep it simple, and your audience will appreciate it.

Social media is an excellent tool for broadcasting news and other tidbits that offer an opinion. The rapid-fire delivery will continue to catch us by surprise, and mistakes will happen.

Use common sense and have another set of eyes on things, with luck, you will need to ultimately minimize your risk somehow — since staying off the internet is simply not going to happen.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at Dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com, and his favorite beer is Harpoon IPA.

 

Blake Dowling: The almighty email

Ray Tomlinson invented email in 1972. Tomlinson was an ARPANET contractor and picked the @ symbol to reference digital communications between computers.

Since then, things have changed — just a wee bit.

In a perfect world, organizations use email to share quick bursts of info with clients, colleagues, constituents, etc.

But, in the real world, people send massive files, keep enormous inboxes, all while sending the most confidential voter, medical and financial info. Designed as a communicative tool for nonsensitive info, people are now using email as the send-all-be-all of their organizations.

If you don’t archive your emails and use a file structure (outside of your inbox) think about giving that some time. Digital organization is greatness.

Over the years, I’ve come across a few situations where people have emailed me some very sensitive info by mistake.

So, as a best practices rule-of-thumb, if you can’t say it aloud, don’t email it.

One client was considering an alternative to our company and sent our proposal to a competitor, asking the other company to break down our proposal and beat our price. They accidentally cc’ed me.

In my eyes, their brand is forever tarnished. An hour later, when I received a request to ignore the previous email, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was like a court order to “strike that comment from the record” — the cat is already out of the bag, and said cat holds a major grudge.

Recently, my wife was trying to get her air conditioning fixed at a local car shop; they were refusing to honor the warranty.

They then sent this gem to 6 internal staff, cc’ing me by mistake. There was nothing up, no one even looked at the car beside them. Now, whenever I think of auto repair, I see them as the clowns of the business. I always will.

Had they not sent this email, I would have been none the wiser. One person ruined their national brand. (I bet they got an A in clown school.)

We will not name names here, but here is part of the message:

“Paul Harvey version was the washer bottle is broken! How does a washer bottle get broken, and AC system over charged ???? We were asking questions since vehicle has not ever been in our stores for repairs or service. Car fax was clean so we are fixing the vehicle under warranty since we cannot prove anything and the Dowling’s are giving us any information other than being very defensive which usually in my book means something up.”

The Democratic National Committee learned the power of email — the wrong way.

Jobs were lost, trust destroyed. In the aftermath of the Nevada Democratic convention, Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote about Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager: “Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.”

In another email, Wasserman Schultz said of Sanders: “He isn’t going to be president.”

Other emails had her stating that Sanders doesn’t understand the Democratic Party. Bernie got hosed. Email pain is not just for Democrats, Republicans past and present have had their fair share of problems.

Email woes have no party affiliation.

There should be an email protocol — in writing — for all your staffers, including interns, volunteers, and all the way to the top.

We don’t need to go into mail servers (or things like that); email is simply not a secure platform for communication.

Don’t talk trash, send credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or anything confidential via email. Yes, there are encryption packages available to secure email communication, if you are willing to make the investment.

Nevertheless, use email as designed, and you will have a pleasant and (most importantly) more secure computing experience.

Be safe out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

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