As we kick off the new year, we thought it would be good to reflect not only on what we’ve been doing over the last year, but also where we are planning to go over the coming year. We spent a little time with DataMotion CEO Bob Janacek talking about his vision for DataMotion. We’d like to share that with you below. Our questions are in bold. The interview has been lightly edited.
As 2019 comes to a close, it seems like a good time to reflect on the progress made this year. Thinking about this, can you describe the major initiatives DataMotion worked on this year, and the impact these have had for customers?
Bob Janacek: Sure. Thanks. We’ve spent many years working with customers in regulated markets like banking, insurance, government and healthcare, addressing their concerns around secure collaboration with their clients and partners. Our secure messaging system is used by many of these organizations to enable easy, secure and compliant communications for employees with their constituents.
That’s our software as a service, which is an end user product. It’s a turnkey solution that customers can implement as is. And what we’ve seen in the last year – really the last couple years – is a shift. These collaborative features that previously were used in a standalone sense, now our customers are asking for them to be integrated. And, they want to do so in the mainstream workflow of how they do business. For instance, many of our customers have a member portal. That’s where they drive their clients’ usage – through their portal and mobile apps. Our customers spend considerable resources on digital transformation and customer experience of their portals and apps. Collaboration was a missing piece. A lot of these portals are read only. For example, they may show a client’s explanation of benefits or bank balance, but they don’t allow them to ask a question or submit supporting documents. So rather than having a separate email encryption portal where their clients must go to ask questions and exchange sensitive information, our customers want that collaboration to happen seamlessly from within their member portals and apps. This provides a better user experience that’s secure, simple and fast. Security that gets in the way of business processes is typically ignored. But if you can make it melt into the process, so that it’s as easy to use as any other feature, then it can accelerate business and add a lot of value to what companies bring their customers.
So, as you look to the future then for 2020 what changes do you see happening and where and how do you see the company evolving?
Bob Janacek: To meet this need of stitching secure collaboration into our customers’ workflows, we’re investing heavily in our platform as a service. Whereas our traditional products were software as a service or SaaS, the API version of that – the version that could be integrated into customers’ systems – is a platform as a service or PaaS. That’s where we expose APIs and protocols that allow internal systems for customer service, for loan processing, for underwriting – a wide range of systems to participate in the secure exchange of information with their clients. The other end of these connections are often client-facing apps and portals. We’re investing in the APIs and protocols that allow backend systems to participate in the secure exchange of information. We’re also investing in the APIs and methods that allow mobile apps and front-end systems to integrate secure correspondence seamlessly for their members.
Okay, so talk about why it’s so important that the company evolved in this way. This is kind of a pivot or change in direction for DataMotion. What is it that’s driving all of this? You talked a little bit about customers requesting this, but, what’s really behind all of that.
Bob Janacek: A new generation of consumer is interacting with our customers, including millennials and younger ones in generation Z. These users are tech savvy and expect companies that they do business with to be the same. They expect mobile apps. They expect smartphone first interfaces. They don’t want to call in and wait 20 minutes listening to music on hold if they can get an answer by typing something digitally in a few seconds. They don’t necessarily want to deal with fax anymore. Or sign paper documents and send them by postal mail or overnight courier. They may not even have postage stamps laying around. They don’t think about those ways of doing business, which a lot of organizations are still built on. So, the younger generations are expecting a capable digital experience for interacting with their suppliers, whether it’s their bank, insurance company, healthcare or a government agency. They know the bar that Apple and Amazon.com created. If you can do everything online, then why go physical. Problem is a lot of the service companies use legacy customer service methods built around fax, phone calls, postal mail and FedEx, which is not the modern world. So, there is a groundswell, really a paradigm shift, in moving from legacy systems to pure digital, or at least supplementing traditional channels with digital ones. The digital experience is smarter, less expensive and faster. It’s secure. It’s auditable. It’s compliant. There’s a lot of benefits to going digital, but companies will need vendors like DataMotion that have the rich toolset to be able to integrate secure digital collaboration into their existing internal and client-facing experiences.
So, part of what is driving this is that they’ve got these existing workflows and they can’t just wholesale throw them out and try something else. It’s more of an evolution for these companies as well?
Bob Janacek: Right, we are very focused on helping our customers and their users, employees and systems work in ways that are most natural to them. It should just work, without rip and replace, and it should be transparent and easy. If it’s a back-end or legacy system that speaks a certain protocol, we want to be able to speak that protocol. Then that system can remain in place and can participate. If it’s a client-facing portal or mobile app, REST APIs may be the preferred way of integrating secure collaboration. So, by providing a range of methods, APIs and protocols, and enabling all of them to interoperate, we allow a wide range of workflows involving systems, employees and consumers to participate in ways that are most natural to them.
Can you describe in more detail about how this is going to affect the products or services that DataMotion offers, especially as we go into 2020?
Bob Janacek: In 2020, you’re going to see a lot more emphasis on our platform as a service and our developer center that backs that platform as a service. Currently the developer center offers a range of APIs that programmers can access in a self-service manner. They don’t have to contact sales to gain access to it, they can go right to developers.datamotion.com and sign up for access, and immediately start testing out the APIs.
What we’re going to see in 2020 is a broader range of APIs that are made available. I can’t talk about all of them right now. But there’s a lot in store on the platform as a service as it relates to collaboration, security and compliance.
So, you’ll be expanding the different ways, systems and workflows that these organizations will be able to communicate by?
Bob Janacek: It’s really about transparency. It’s about integrating security and compliance into the collaboration process in a transparent way. It’s also about efficiency. If things are embedded tightly in the workflow, then that security and compliance is seamless in the workflow. The efficiency is maximized. Compliance is maximized at the same time. A lot of times you see security get in the way of workflows. It can add extra steps for users, or force processes to use outdated communication tools. Security is also the step that users remove from the process because it can prevent companies from meeting revenue goals – it gets in the way of business processes. By having our platform as a service, and a range of very robust APIs and protocols, the security becomes transparent in the process. It’s really a win, win for compliance and customer experience. Organizations’ online processes are secure. And from a business point of view, those business processes drive revenue recognition, and customer satisfaction goes up dramatically.
That leads right into the next question that I had for you, which is about how these organizations are going to benefit from these changes – this new direction that we have been talking about. Being able to be more secure and compliant – and have that all baked into those processes is a clear benefit?
Bob Janacek: Well one of the things about digital transformation and modernization is that it drives costs out of legacy processes. If you look at having to return a document by mail, it has to go through the handling of the mail room, it may get scanned and then an image may get attached to a CRM system. It may need OCR or optical character recognition that often introduces errors into process – especially if it’s handwriting. You know, an eight may look like a zero. That results in bad data that’s put into the system. Now, someone has to correct that. All the steps of handling legacy workflows are costly and error prone. By modernizing not only are you satisfying the expectation of today’s consumer, but you’re also reducing the cost of the organization’s operations, reducing errors and becoming a more efficient. Increases in brand loyalty, and customer retention and acquisition rates also occur, resulting in more profitable lines of business.
DataMotion has been a part of the email encryption industry for a long time. What role do you see email encryption playing in this evolution for DataMotion?
Bob Janacek: Most email encryption solutions are SaaS offerings – it is a mature solution with a lot of vendors including DataMotion. But now – customers in the highly regulated industries –healthcare, financial services, insurance, and some functions of government – they need something better. The vendors that will excel in the email encryption market are those that have built on a robust platform that allows for integrated functionality which is in demand from these industries. Having that functionality baked into workflows and business processes, is really the next step in the transformation of these companies, customer experiences and their journey into digital transformation. SaaS is fine for many organizations that need ad hoc email encryption for legal and HR departments. But for those that are constantly handling sensitive information as a core business process – you need to evolve with the times. Email encryption offered as a PaaS and baked into the workflow is really where we see the major growth opportunities with these industries.
Every industry and company can face disruptions at some point, and it sounds like that’s what this is. Can you talk about other disruptions that DataMotion has been seeing and what you’re doing to meet these kinds of challenges?
Bob Janacek: Well, it’s really about secure collaboration in a broader sense. Email encryption is one channel. But systems also exchange files; people exchange files. There’s also the need for structured data or electronic forms exchange to be easier for organizations. They have security needs, but then they also have workflow needs as well. There’s a lot of opportunity to modernize legacy methods that have been in place for decades. So, we see secure collaboration involving email, messages, files and forms as ripe for a paradigm shift that strategically integrates them into an organization’s workflow, allowing appropriate systems and business processes to participate, all in a very easy, secure, compliant manner. It’s really bringing all those to the next level.
All right. So, in 2020, what’s your number one goal for DataMotion? If you had to pick just one thing – what would you want to see DataMotion accomplish?
Bob Janacek: The one thing that I’d like to see DataMotion accomplish in 2020, and which is already well underway, is the emphasis of platform as a service allowing developers to easily access and touch our APIs – and integrate them into their solutions. There are many types of solutions that would benefit from secure customer collaboration, include help desk ticketing and customer contact systems, ERP systems, accounting systems, healthcare systems and CRMs. Besides GDPR, there are many privacy regulations being introduced or taking affect such as the California Consumer Privacy Act. These regulations are affecting companies and vendors – any organization that sends and touches sensitive data, they need to have a way to keep that data secure. The security should not get in the way of the business process, though. It needs to be baked in. There are a lot of opportunities for developers of these solutions to leverage our platform as a service, our APIs and protocols. Using these they can bake in that seamless experience and not only comply with ever-increasing privacy regulations, but also to provide the modern digital experience that their customers expect.
Going past 2020, where do you see DataMotion, and the industry in general going, looking out the next two to five years?
Bob Janacek: We have to continually serve the needs of our customers. Our customers are emphasizing security and compliance, ease of use and superior experiences for their clients. They’re also looking at machine learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing. So those are areas reaching a level of maturity that we can integrate to benefit our customers. Those things are on our radar to continue our work of increasing efficiency, accelerating business processes, reducing complexity and driving cost out of collaboration.
Sounds like exciting times.
Bob Janacek: It absolutely is.
Two last questions. One is a fun question. What type of music do you have that you’re recommending this year?
Bob Janacek: I’ve been listening to the No Shoes Radio channel on satellite radio lately. There’s a lot of island music on that station. It just transports you to a different place. You know, it’s all about experience. You know that we’re also elevating the experience. But yeah, the islands and palm trees and all that kind of put you in that state of mind that says if you could make something so optimal and get so much enjoyment out of it in the islands, why can’t we bring that enjoyment to your customers use of technology?
Cool. So last question. Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we haven’t covered that you’d like our customers and prospects to know about DataMotion and where we’re going in this coming year.
Bob Janacek: As technology matures, history has shown that it consolidates, and it gets easier and easier to use. And I think that’s where we are in the curve of our offering. Whereas previously, for example, there were vendors for encrypted email, there were file transfer vendors for people and for systems, and for electronic forms.
They are now converging into a secure collaboration platform where you can emphasize any of those – email, files or forms – they all exchange. Now any system, app or process can participate in any of them with one common set of security, compliance, governance and tracking tools. You have a consistent view of all your critical information exchanges. Previously, you had multiple vendors, an uneven security footprint, uneven compliance, complexities of security patch management. We offer a very high bar for security, compliance and tracking, while also providing the agility needed to really get digital transformation and collaboration right. In addition, as your processes modernize and new ones are formed, you want a platform that has enough depth that you don’t outgrow it. So that’s technology, you know, maturing, converging and making collaboration a strategic asset in a CIO’s toolbox – allowing them to enable easy, secure communication and collaboration between their wide range of systems, employees, customers and business partners.