There has been lots of examples of companies ignoring users getting punished in the long run. And with the proliferation of blogs, the reaction’s much more immediate.
Thanks to gurus and blogging evangelists like Robert Scoble, Steve Rubel, Seth Godin, Hugh MacLeod et al, Zoho has pursued and will continue to pursue the path of actively listening to what the blogosphere has to say of us. This is not something new to us though as at AdventNet (parent company of Zoho), we have been doing this for the last 10 years – listening to what our users and customers have to say.
While there are a lot many examples of Zoho’s active involvement with the blogosphere, I would like to bring to attention a little conversation that happened last month.
Yoav Ezer started this conversation when he published a very good and detailed report of how people are leaving sensitive information on the web while using web services like Zoho, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Thinkfree and others. He pointed out that many people didn’t know they have actually made the info public allowing everyone to see.
The post got the attention of many including a long-time Zoho user – Rich, another blogger – SaaS-a-fras and obviously us too. Rich’s point was about how it isn’t the online services fault fully – it is like with blogging or YouTube, users should know they are using online services and realize that it is their actions and it is their sole responsibility.
Saas-a-fras countered with “people wonâ€™t blame the posters but will instead blame the software companies even though users should know better.Â So even though the security of the providers system was not directly being questioned, the end result it that it would be.”
We don’t make documents as public by default (unlike say YouTube or del.icio.us where things uploaded are made public by default so that it gets social). Users have to click on ‘Publish’ -> ‘Make it public’ for doing so in our case. And yet, Yoah’s report had evidence of people publishing sensitive info. What we found out was this – all Zoho services have a demo account which we have had as a policy for not locking in the first time users, who are here just wanting to try out Zoho. If someone copies and pastes data into the demo account, it is there for the next person logging on to see. So, we immediately canceled the demo account for Zoho Writer. (we followed up by taking of the demo for Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show too later)
As you can see it was a small thing to do from our side. But the beauty of it was that the whole thing was initiated by the users and blogosphere. If it hadn’t been for Yoav’s report, Zoho services would have continued to have had the demo account. And if we hadn’t been actively tracking the blogosphere, we couldn’t have found this sensitive issue.
Thanks to Chris Kasten for chipping in.