Hubert Da Costa,Vice President, Global Channels at Compodium explains his current job role and his management philosophy.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
I recently joined secure digital meeting spaces provider, Compodium, to build, launch and lead the channel programme in EMEA. Compodium was an early video conferencing pioneer and its technical video platform has grown to be one of the most comprehensive in the world, with use cases spanning healthcare and clinical telemedicine to public sector communications. With a strong foothold in Sweden, Compodium is now rapidly expanding globally and going forward, the company’s model will be 100% channel focused.
Now, I’m working to build relationships with the distribution partners to support this global expansion. Compodium recognises that working with the right partners can grow the business in a way that selling directly never will. In fact, it’s become increasingly difficult for businesses – even those that have been extremely successful in one or a few regions – to create opportunities for sales growth in new geographical regions and market verticals. Developing a strong distribution network provides huge economies of scale in terms of resources, operational processes, delivery and customer service.
One of the key challenges with new locations is working around different languages and cultures, so the key to success when expanding geographically is embracing local execution. This is why the distribution model works so well. Choosing the right partners can help you assimilate in-country quickly and fast tracks you through the language and cultural roadblocks you will inevitably face by running your business remotely.
Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?
To help secure a market-leading position in the rapid growth area of digital collaboration, Compodium is looking to appoint five partners to drive sales in the finance, healthcare, SMB enterprise, education and public sector vertical markets. We’ve recently unveiled a new channel programme – Compodium Partner Assure – which is aimed at supporting and accelerating our partners’ success across EMEA.
We’re working hard to identify and build effective relationships with the right partners, particularly those with detailed local market knowledge. I know at its core, the key to a successful distribution model is aligning strategies with your partners. So, we’re welcoming partners that know the industry well, who share our cultures and values and will help us maintain the integrity of the Compodium brand as we expand into new regions. The secret is in the name – partnership is key.
How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?
My philosophy has always been one that centres around honest communication and a focus on long term relationships. This drives better results for everyone – it may seem like a cliché, but that’s all it takes to create a win-win situation. When working towards the same goals, you need to treat your partners as an extension of your own team – constantly thinking about how you can contribute to their success.
I read a book some years ago called ‘The Go-Giver’ that really struck a chord with me and fundamentally influenced how I approach working with partners. The book is about a young ambitious salesman going nowhere fast who realises a fundamental truth: to be successful in business you need to turn the traditional ‘What’s in it for me’ mindset on its head. Success depends on asking what you can give. Now, I focus on the value I can add – for colleagues, customers and partners.
Working hard to ensure partners have enough training and support will contribute to your joint success. You need to commit 100% to ensuring your partners’ success – and importantly, reward them fairly when they deliver this.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
Despite the widespread disruption for many businesses, there have been numerous opportunities brought on by the rapid shift to remote working. It’s accelerated some key trends we were already seeing huge growth in – particularly the move to cloud and the need for comprehensive security. For any channel organisation with expertise in these areas, there are significant opportunities.
What is your management philosophy?
To lead from the front but also empower my team to think like a leader in everything they do. My team knows I always have their back and – providing they act with honesty and integrity with everything they do – that they are free to execute and enjoy their roles. If they make a mistake – which we all know happens – that’s OK, as long as it was made with the correct behaviour. Mistakes help us grow – as individuals and as a team. Just as it’s important for us to learn from our own mistakes and move on, any mistake your team makes is an opportunity for you to grow as a leader.
Leading from the front doesn’t mean making all of the key decisions; it’s about ensuring your vision, mission and goals are crisp and clear, and then trusting your team to deliver these. I ensure everyone in my immediate and extended teams has a mandate to deliver in the most creative, but – more importantly – honest way possible.
The same is true for channel leadership. Commit to your strategy and plans and enable your partners to execute. When your partners share your core values and you’ve helped them understand the nuances of your product, your brand and your market, let them lead you to success.
When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?
Memorable achievements come in many forms. Certainly though, the feeling of securing my first million-dollar order has stayed, as has cutting the tape at the first international office I set up from scratch in the EMEA region.
What made you think of a career in technology?
Honestly, from the age of four I’d planned to be a priest. But by about 16, I’d moved on and my love and inquisitiveness of all things tech was inspiring a clear career direction. It inspires me still to see how the world is progressing at an exponential rate, with technology touching every aspect of our lives – particularly over the recent months, as we’ve all had to adopt new ways of communicating with friends and colleagues.
What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2020?
For many businesses, recent events have fundamentally changed the way they operate. Home working has taken off in a way that we could never have imagined, even this time last year. Thanks to technology, we’re as productive in our own homes as we are in a traditional office environment. There’s no question as to the significance that video conferencing has played here. Indeed, the market for digital meeting spaces has exploded in recent months, with Global Market Insights predicting the video conferencing market alone will reach a valuation of US$50 billion by 2026.
However, with this growth has come the realisation by many businesses that there is a greater need for protecting the sensitive, confidential and valuable data contained in video conversations. Enterprise-grade security is a must-have and this permeates every aspect of the home office technology we’re all now relying on – from our trusty Wi-Fi router to the video conferencing platforms we’re using to communicate with clients, customers and colleagues. Catching up with friends on HouseParty is one thing – but discussing a medical diagnosis with your GP or exploring a potential M&A requires absolute confidentiality.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
By far, most of my time after work revolves around my dog – so lots of walking! I also enjoy swimming and – despite a few arguments with the road along the way – I’m still a keen cyclist. I also take every opportunity to watch Liverpool play football.
The recent pandemic has fundamentally changed the way most businesses around the world operate. Home working has taken off in a way that would have been unimaginable just this time last year and thanks to technology, we’re as productive in our own homes as we are in a traditional office environment. There’s no question as to the significance that video conferencing has played here. While not a new technology, video conferencing has boomed in recent months, with Global Market Insights predicting the video conferencing market alone will reach a valuation of $50bn by 2026.
However, with this growth has come the realisation by many businesses that there is a greater need for protecting the sensitive, confidential and valuable data contained in video conversations. This is particularly so for banking and financial services organisations, where the issue of video security is more important than ever.
Video conferencing security is vital in the ‘new normal’
As we move beyond the more restrictive lockdown period, many businesses are increasingly moving a limited number of employees back into physical office environments. However, with the potential for a second wave and further national lockdowns ever present, it seems clear that remote working is here to stay. While some organisations, such as Barclays, are looking to re-establish on-site operations as quickly as possible, others will remain – at least in some large part – remote. Financial services organisations need to prepare for a new normal – one that caters for remote business opportunities just as effectively as those taking place face-to-face.
There can be no doubt that video is now solidified as the primary method of remote communication. Whether it’s a family catch up or a blue chip board meeting, wherever a physical meeting is not possible, or practical, video conferencing is now a comfortable alternative for most people. But with more people on video than ever before, the usage surge has also brought increased security concerns. For example, incidents of Zoom-bombing – when strangers intrude on others’ Zoom meetings – have been widely reported. In a recent high-profile case, pranksters Zoombombed the court hearing of a man accused of July’s Twitter hack. In a commercial setting, this activity has the potential threaten the integrity and security of confidential business information.
Video conferencing security is now an important consideration – both for businesses operating in highly regulated industries like financial services, as well as individuals prioritising privacy. Zoom’s recent announcement that it will backtrack on previous refusals to provide end-to-end encryption to free users of the service is a major victory for the activists and civil liberties organisations campaigning for privacy and digital protection.
Data transmission is one of the most vulnerable areas of video communication and ensuring a comprehensive level of security is paramount for those taking part in digital conversations – whether that’s a personal conversation, or in a commercial environment. During a video conversation, data travels over multiple networks – both public and private – and end-to-end encryption is the foundation of protecting this data in transit.
Authentication: going beyond security
In finance, end-to-end encryption is not enough – in fact, it’s expected. Finance is a high-risk, high-reward industry that requires rapid decision making and constant information exchange – all while building and maintaining crucial client relationships. Video conferencing technology has offered a lifeline for many finance organisations focused on maintaining productivity. However, in many organisations, security and compliance considerations as an afterthought. Video conversations contain highly sensitive and confidential information – they must meet the same levels of security, privacy and confidentiality as in-person conversations. In these environments, security breaches and financial fraud can lead to significant regulatory, financial and reputational damage.
Financial services organisations are the backbone of the global economy and during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have the challenge of quickly delivering seamless virtual connectivity. Under unprecedented pressure to roll out new technology, it can be easy to overlook the more fundamental requirements, in favour of rolling out new services and capabilities at speed. New technology should not come at the cost of privacy and security.
End-to-end encryption – which is vital for privacy and security and will now soon be available via even the most basic video conferencing solutions – is not enough to meet the high standards required in financial services. Instead, authentication is the key to ensuring the growing adoption of video conferencing in this industry meets the same high standards delivered to clients in-person.
Authentication provides a double layer of trust, ensuring both advisors and clients can be confident that they are speaking to the right person within an entirely confidential virtual space. Only by ensuring video conversations are both end-to-end encrypted and authenticated can finance professionals provide the same level of privacy and security afforded to clients during a face-to-face consultation. This ensures the identity of every conference participant is fully authenticated before the conference is initiated.
The new normal
The video conferencing authentication process is simple, but hugely effective and vital for the video-driven new normal in financial services. It provides all the necessary foundations for client security and privacy and will play a vital role in the continued success of the industry. Social distancing has forced us to rethink how we deliver client services, but it has also offered the opportunity to roll out cutting edge technology at breakneck pace. However, while the results are already hugely positive, we need to ensure security remains the priority.
Every silver lining has its cloud and videoconferencing has created increased security concerns.
As many of us approach the half year mark of remote working, we’ve become accustomed to virtual working. Indeed, for many companies this has paved the way for a 180 degree shift away from the traditional office set-up. Just last month, Fujitsu announced a ‘permanent working from home policy’, and a few months earlier, tech giant Twitter, declared that its staff could work from home forever. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics said 49 percent of workers reported working from home at some point in the seven days to 14 June, up from 41 percent the previous week. It’s a trend that is set to continue.
Technology, is of course, the key enabling factor here. And of the tech at our fingertips, video conferencing has played – and will continue to play – a critical role. With video collaboration as part of a company’s communication stack, it can connect employee team members and keep them engaged and at the heart of its business. Moreover, video meetings allow firms to maintain human connections with people and support remote workers as they strive to create ‘the new normal’ of working.
The video conferencing market was worth $14 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to $50 billion by 2026, according to a report earlier this month from research firm Global Market Insights. “The video conferencing market is expected to witness high growth during the coronavirus outbreak,” the report said.
However, every silver lining has its cloud and this huge increase in the use of video has also brought increased security concerns. A host of security issues emerged for Zoom in early March, including controversies over encryption levels and the practice of “Zoombombing” where strangers intrude on others’ meetings. Sometimes, these intruders listen in without anyone knowing they’re there. Other times, they totally disrupt the meetings sometimes in ways that threaten the business in its entirety, integrity as well as confidential information. This prompted scrutiny from US authorities and temporary bans from schools in New York City and Singapore.
Understanding the risk
A recent study by IBM found that remote work appears to be growing on people, as more than 75 percent indicated they would like to continue to work remotely at least occasionally, while more than half – 54 percent – would like this to be their primary way of working. A separate study from Instant Offices found that 73 per cent of employers consider working from home to be the ‘new norm’ while 65 per cent of UK workers say they are more productive at home compared to their regular offices.
But before companies rush to embrace video conferencing, they need to understand where potential risks might lie. And it’s rarely as simple as clicking a link and joining a video. There needs to be careful consideration to ensure privacy and security for all users, and their data. There are good reasons that laws and regulations like GDPR, CCPA and HIPAA exist.
Here are some key considerations:
Your customers’ data must be your #1 priority
You must understand how your chosen video conferencing provider manages your data so make sure that you familiarize yourself with their policies in this area.
Know what kinds of user data are being collected. This will probably include basic information submitted by users such as a username and email address to establish a video account. But there is also the data that’s collected in the background – most likely without the user even knowing about it. This will be things like IP addresses, device types, platform operating system and called/calling party video addresses. The collection of these types of data is all pretty routine, but this leads nicely on to my next point…
You need to be aware of what’s being done with this information. There are certain things that are permissible. Using the data to enable the call itself is permissible, as is providing usage history to enable billing for example. However, it is not permissible to share the data with any unauthorized outside parties. Users of any video conferencing service should be confident that their not only data is private and secure, but should they wish to know they can ask the provider to tell them how they are using the data, where it is stored, how long it is stored for, and under what regulatory standards it handles such user data.
How is your data being handled? In addition to considering where it is stored, organizations must have a handle on who has access to the data. Even if the data is encrypted and not human-readable, there may be requirements that the data reside within a certain geography.
Security is everything
First, understand what level of security you need? Catching up with your friends and family via HouseParty is a completely different ball-game to sensitive business negotiations. Most organizations are going to need a secure communications channel – but how secure should it be, and to what standard? For meetings where you cannot compromise on security ensure industry security protocols such as AES-128, AES-256, SSL and TLS are adhered to.
In addition to end to end encryption, consider other security tools such as waiting rooms that ensure only those invited can attend the call, which participants share content and the ability to eject unwanted participants.
Privacy and security critical
For many businesses, the first half of 2020 will be remembered as unusual, challenging but also transformational. Digital transformation has been a ‘must get on with’ process for CIOs the world over and indeed, many organizations are a significant way along this journey. The enforced work from home that we’ve just experienced has accelerated businesses’ need to equip teams with the tools to work effectively, efficiently, and securely. Today’s more-mobile workforce now requires greater, and more convenient, access to workplace collaboration tools than ever before – but privacy and security cannot be an afterthought – it must be built in.
Lockdown will leave a lasting digital legacy. The coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online, with millions of people using online video services for the first time. As the way we communicate evolves and people broaden their online horizons, we must ensure that people have a positive experience, and that they’re safe and protected.