April 04, 2011

Epsilon, The Cloud, And You

We should be very concerned about this problem.  

The tech punditocracy demands that we move our lives "to the cloud".  We see lovely commercials where a woman doesn't like the way family members look in a picture, so she goes to the cloud to solve her problems.  "Yeah cloud" she deadpans as she alters the sour image portrayed by her family.  

She must have been working with a puffy cumulus cloud.  

Epsilon, however unintentional, handed clients a cumulonimbus cloud.  

You know who suffers in the short term?  The businesses that partnered with Epsilon.  Here's a list of some of the brands impacted by this breach.  If I am an L.L. Bean Visa card holder, I'm ticked.  What could anybody tell me that would cause me to believe that only my e-mail address was hacked?

The easy thing to do here is to jump all over Epsilon.  That's pointless.  You think those employees don't feel rotten?  How'd you like to be an e-mail product manager or sales rep at Epsilon today?  What are the hurdles this poor person will face when trying to sell e-mail delivery services to Lands' End later this week?  Have you ever made a catastrophic mistake?  I made a big mistake back in 1995 ... I mailed the worst customers instead of the best customers.  Oh boy.  You view catastrophic events differently once you've caused one to happen.

The hard thing to do is to blame the cloud.

We're going through a multi-year process of giving up control of our businesses to "the cloud".  Today, we happily outsource so much of our business to the cloud.  Abacus, Z-24, those were two of the early "cloud-based" pioneers, right?

The deeper issue is our relationship with the cloud.  How much control of our business do we hand over to the cloud?  How much control of our personal life do we hand over to the cloud?  

Are we willing to cope with the consequences of a cloud that controls us, of a cloud that both helps and harms us?