Wire brings secure collaboration to North America
For any organization, the need for secure messaging technologies has become increasingly vital.
With daily news coverage of data breaches, malware attacks and poor security practices across North America and globally, awareness of the risks associated with handing over confidential data has been heightened.
It is therefore imperative for businesses to take a proactive approach in enabling employees to utilize vetted, secure, modern chat-based tools. While email continues to be the main communication channel for many industries, it has also become one of the least secure and effective channels.
“If confidential information gets in the wrong hands, it almost always has a significant financial impact,” Morten Brøgger, CEO of work collaboration platform, Wire, tells us from his San Francisco office.
Establishing Wire, Brøgger has sought to build exceptional communication tools where employees can chat securely, share documents or make voice, video and conference calls, as well as undertake screen sharing in real time.
“Chat-based communication tools are rapidly taking over from email because communications need to be fast and accurate. It is now more often than not done through tools like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat,” he explains.
“Most consumer tools are free and financed through ad-based models. This inevitably means sacrificing privacy, especially if the same device is used for work, which then puts work security in jeopardy.
“By switching work conversations to chat-based tools, it would help reduce time spent on internal email by 50%. Being able to use the same secure tools for external communication would further increase efficiency and productivity.”
The breach of confidential customer information not only loses consumer trust, but also opens the doors for potential penalties from data protection agencies. With this in mind, Wire has developed a world-class end-to-end-encryption (E2EE) tool, making work faster, more efficient and more secure than working with other outdated digital tools.
“Many customers have commented how useful they find Wire’s ‘guest room’ feature. This allows them to chat and talk to external parties who don’t have Wire installed – it just works in a browser window,” says Brøgger. “The benefit they mention is being able to use the same software and security for not just internal but also external communication.
“Launching end-to-end encrypted chat, conferencing, video calls and file sharing on desktop and mobile with great user experience in just nine months is something no-one else has matched,” he adds. “For comparison, WhatsApp’s team worked on the same functionality for two years (launching a month after Wire in April 2016) and two years later still offers only 1:1 voice calls. Wire has had encrypted conference calls since its launch.”
Open source advantages
While E2EE is more commonly witnessed within consumer communications for enterprises, secure communication has become an essential focal point. Brøgger explains that corporate users had not previously had access to such an easy-to-use collaboration tool as Wire’s software.
Established in Germany, the company’s largest markets remain within the US, Canada and the European Union, where over 100,000 people in more than 200 enterprises regularly access its services. The company is bolstered by an impeccable team, with many members have worked at the likes of Skype, IBM and Cisco.
Fully adopting a 100% open-source strategy, the business remains ambitious to build communications tools of the future, in terms of functionality, security, privacy, as well as an exceptional user interface, to ensure complete transparency across its business practices.
“Wire’s focus on open source means that anyone can audit our code for quality and verify our security claims. Many have commented on that the fact that Wire believes in open source, takes transparency to heart and leads the way to push the collaboration software industry to a more secure and privacy-friendly future is important to them,” says Brøgger.
“Open source forces us to write quality code, motivates our staff, makes it easier to engage external developers and partners and simplifies building integrations.”
“Everything on Wire, by default, is protected with E2EE – only the sender and receiver can see the contents of the messages. Wire does not have any decryption keys, placing responsibility firmly on our customers. There are also no available backdoors created within the software,” he continues.
“This is a big difference from competitors like Microsoft Teams or Slack where all messages and files are available to anyone with access to the server – including the service provider or malicious actors.”
Throughout its focus on driving exceptional E2EE services, Wire has, of course, had to adapt its offering towards evolving worldwide regulatory demands, such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rulings, which requires organizations servicing the European Union (EU) to publish any data breaches, providing ultimately transparency. Additionally, the rulings will also ensure that all companies serving European citizens remain open about third party tools which receive access to customer data.
By implementing a privacy by design approach, Wire has sought to go above and beyond traditional approaches to securing customer data and has gained the ability to integrate its services with other software, providing a seamless experience.
“GDPR does not just affect EU businesses, but any company in the world serving customers in the EU. A lot of these companies will not be ready in terms of protecting their customer data with encryption,” observes Brøgger. This has already been documented, with the media claiming that many US websites in particular have barred European users from accessing their services.
While some US businesses will already have most of the appropriate security measures in place, issues such as BYOD (bring your own device) and use of messaging services as mentioned above are becoming increasing prevalent across North America, and won’t be accepted under the new regulation for any business dealing with the data of EU citizens.
Becoming a frontrunner across all markets, Wire has issued a new golden benchmark through its E2EE solutions. It has now sought to support other businesses by effectively mitigating risks of potential data leaks to third party sites.
“If your organization has had a security incident then your image and trust is threatened,” says Brøgger. “Ultimately, customers and partners will try and find other places to buy or partner up where their data can be trusted.
“As privacy awareness goes up consumers will start ‘voting with their feet’ and avoiding companies with questionable security and privacy practices.”
Setting up a sales office in San Francisco, Wire’s services and capabilities are set to further grow across North America. Its new service, Wire Red, will form part of its evolution, and enable enterprises to use this service as a communication contingency plan. “Our end-to-end encryption and security by design allows for large companies to continue to conduct business as normal even when they’re in the midst of a crisis,” concludes Brøgger.
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.