In this 21st century, running a well-sound business means embracing and incorporating the latest technology available to utilize for work production. Company mobile phones are often provided to employees so they are able to check, receive and send emails
remotely, access and share documents via various applications built for business
purposes, and even update a company’s social media feed with relevant posts to engage
customers. The amount of confidential corporate data that lies on a smart phone is
copious however, and if it lands in the wrong hands, a thief could pose a detrimental
threat on a business.
Beginning July 1, 2015, a mobile kill-switch law will take effect in California that will
require all smart phones made within the state include a kill-switch function by default.
“Kill switch” technology enables phone owners to remotely shut off or wipe their mobile
device when lost or stolen. The main purpose of the legislation is to prevent and
discourage smart phone theft, which has become a significant issue in the recent era of
internet-connectivity emergence – approximately 40% of robberies in major cities
involve stealing of mobile communications devices. If it works to reduce the number of
crimes in this sector, the West Coast state’s mandate could spark a revolution in the
mobile device industry and the rest of the nation could follow suit by implementing the
same regulations. Businesses could be impacted both positively and possibly negatively
from kill-switch enforcement.
The implementation of a kill switch would render a phone useless to an unauthorized
user, removing the intrigue to even steal in the first place, a great reassurance measure
for businesses. There is a possibility cunning criminals could figure out how to wipe a
phone even if it has a kill switch but recent technological development spurred by the
kill-switch law includes Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor chips that are being built to
lock phones straight from the hardware in addition to the software component, offering
an extra layer of security.
On top of the secure data factor the kill switch ensures companies, small businesses on
a tighter budget could reap extra benefits. Currently, only 39 percent of small businesses have
the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen company smart phones versus 54 percent
of large enterprises. With the government regulation, access to a baseline anti-theft tool
would become available to all businesses, small and large alike, allowing each and every
organization to feel safer knowing they can protect private company information if
found by a non-authorized person. In congruence with the projected overall decrease in
phone theft, a decrease in overhead to replace lost/stolen smart phones is also highly
likely. Not to mention, employees can feel less of a burden should their mobile device
With the good, there is potential for bad. Many businesses often want less government
interference when trying to run shop (think lower taxes and less restrictions that may
hinder economic growth), so it’s no surprise some are weary of having a government-
mandated law that could indirectly affect corporate communications. Abuse of power
could be executed. By allowing the government to impose a rule that all carriers must
follow, it is essentially authorized to technically control all phones. This could me cutting
off communication services or accessing private data in extreme cases. Not to say
businesses are conducting illegal activities, but the kill-switch order arguably removes
the right to privately operate without any threat of any body, person or government,
abusing technical authority.
Although there is always a chance for unwelcomed government intervention in business
operations, the kill switch law should in general be a very positive change for
companies. Protecting proprietary data is at the forefront of concerns for almost every
establishment and the regulation would give businesses another way to guard their
information from unwanted eyes.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.