Security and Compliance: The keys to data integrity
Azret Deljanin is the VP of Infrastructure and Security at Yieldstreet, responsible for protecting some of the world’s most sensitive data. In this episode, Azret shares insights on AI’s rising role in security and compliance, strategies for keeping sensitive data secure, and Yieldstreet’s innovation-powered drive to change the way people invest.
Guest: Azret Deljanin, VP of Infrastructure and Security at Yieldstreet
Azret Deljanin is the VP of Infrastructure and Security at Yieldstreet and is tasked with providing secure and scalable technology solutions to a growing regulated organization.
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Speaker 1 (00:05): Welcome to the RevTech Revolution Podcast. Today’s episode is hosted by Ken Lorenz, VP of sales at Riva. He is joined by Azret Deljanin, VP of Infrastructure and Security at Yieldstreet. They talk about how startups can stay secure, how AI is influencing compliance, and how Yieldstreet is changing the way people invest. All of this and more on the RevTech Revolution Podcast.
Ken Lorenz (00:36): Azret, nice to meet you. Glad to have you on the show today, always a pleasure. Tell me a little bit about your background. When did you first get interested in technology?
Azret Deljanin (00:47): Sure. My background is multidisciplinary and so I actually went to business school. I have a degree in real estate investments from Baruch College. The question of how’d I sort of get into technology was graduating in the 2008 financial crisis where real estate fell down was a good sort of kick in the shins and say hey, you might want to do something else. And I was already kind of thinking about it. I had already worked in real estate for about seven years. When I graduated, I spent about a year working in commercial real estate.
Azure Deljanin (01:28): Wasn’t really loving it, wasn’t really feeling challenged and I have been a technology junkie my whole life. Had been a tinkerer, had built my first computer at around 15 years old. I remember my first computer being an old IBM Aptiva 133MHz, Intel Pentium. I go all the way back and I had been building computers for gaming purposes for friends, had been running Linux very early on and eventually just pivoted right into technology. And so I started in networking and hosting and eventually, the CTO of this company hired me to the last company I was at, which was LearnVest. And thus began my journey into sort of building applications for financial institutions and startups.
Ken Lorenz (02:22): That’s great. By the way, we just moved over to the B list of questions for you making me feel so old. Just a little bit of comparison I went to school for computer science thought I wanted to do AI research Berkeley back in the late 80s. My first computer was an Apple IIe knockoff, the old Franklin Ace. But somehow in my programming classes, I missed the cards in doing Fortran. Went right into some of the more modern programming languages but I totally get it right. Technology is something that’s exciting and fun but-
Azret Deljanin (03:03): I wish in real estate there was the ability to learn for trend in cold ball because I would’ve made a lot more money coming out of school than working in real estate in the middle of a financial crisis. Because they were begging for mainframe developers even then.
Ken Lorenz (03:18): Well, so go back I guess, well, we’re not going to say how many years but go back X number of years. Did you ever see yourself in cybersecurity and risk management?
Azure Deljanin (03:29): No. Actually, I think that well cybersecurity, yes. I mean, one of the first things I liked to do was go to security conferences because of the sort of eclectic environment those conferences brought and the melding of minds. Right. You had tinkerers, you had hackers, you had ethical hackers, you had folks who had different political opinions and it was this big conference of different ideas. Yeah, I like cybersecurity and I kind of saw the writing on the wall early on, computers would become more complex. Computing, high performance computing, the cloud, all of these things would become more complex thus bringing more and more security issues front and center. And so that did interest me but it never was my sort of primary discipline, right. My primary discipline was in site reliability engineering. I liked to make systems work. I liked to keep them working. I liked to keep them performant.
Azret Deljanin (04:32): And as a side effect of all of those things, security kind of came. When I got into sort of leadership, you couldn’t take a backseat to security. You had to make it purposeful. And I think that that’s true in any organization but especially in FinTech and health tech and payment tech. Any one of those sort of highly regulated industries, security is front and center. And you can see that with the sort of SEC and CFTCputting out new drafts every year about new cybersecurity rules or things that might come into examinations. It’s one of those things that it’s no longer back office and behind the scenes or in the basement, it’s front and center. Whether it’s risk or cybersecurity or processes to help protect organizations, I see these things as number one and tied with building reliable and performing systems.
Ken Lorenz (05:29): Excellent. I got to ask you a personal question. Are you sure you didn’t want to be James Bond growing up? Because you appear to be a man of mystery. Doing a little bit of research, getting to know you online, you’re not online. They asked me to… It kind of gets me to beg the question, should cybersecurity professionals be anonymous out there online? It seems like you’ve taken that approach.
Azret Deljanin (05:56): I take the approach of show what you want to show. And so what do I like to show? People can find that I’m here at Yieldstreet but they don’t need to know about my personal life, right. I prefer to keep anything about me professional because at the end of the day, I think that there’s some… If you take the security tenfold hat approach to this problem, you’re hiding yourself because you may have something to hide or you don’t want somebody to see you or you feel like you have that inalienable right to be private.
Azret Deljanin (06:31): And I think the way data’s collected about folks, that data can be used against you or misconstrued to be against you. Now that said, some folks are perfectly happy with being posted online and having their sort of personal lives out there. And I commend them for that. I think that that’s what’s grown. I think the beauty of the internet is that you have a choice to do whatever it is that you want to do and be whatever personality you want. And I don’t live my life online. I live my life here and in and in-person and so that’s why I’ve chosen to kind of not be readily searchable for lots of things online.
Ken Lorenz (07:13): It’s an approach I’d like to maybe consider for myself at some point but being on the sales side, unfortunately, I’ve got to be a little more visible than I’d like to be but I agree with the professional versus personal. You won’t find a lot of personal about me online either.
Azret Deljanin (07:26): Yeah. And I think what’s beautiful about that is you can have conversations like these where the questions aren’t already teed up. I heard you like this. I saw you posted about that. Now, I’m in a precarious position because maybe I didn’t ask you those questions. And so kind of fielding that question back, what’s your background and sort of how did you get into this space and thinking about security and this sort of sales from a sales and CRM perspective?
Ken Lorenz (08:06): That’s a great question and unfortunately, I’ve got to delve a little bit into the personal to explain that story but it’s a good one. I mentioned I was going to school for artificial intelligence research back in the late 80s. Met a woman who is now my wife of 30-plus years and she said, “I’ve got some partners that are looking for developers. We do accounting software.” And I said, “Gosh, artificial research in Berkeley or accounting software but be with this fantastic girl.” Made the hard dog right into accounting software and been in ERP and CRM ever since.
Ken Lorenz (08:44): But coming from that development background and starting an ERP, back in the early 90s CRM didn’t exist, right. We had what they call them PIMs, personal information managers and all kinds of tools like that. What got me interested in CRM was my background. It led me down a path of saying well, how do we make CRM valuable not just to the organization but to the individual as well? Whether it’s a manager or a sales individual, right. They’ve got to get value from the system and so I’d say… Well, I wouldn’t say, for the last 10 years now I’ve exclusively been in the CRM space and CRM integration space. It’s been a wild journey.
Azret Deljanin (09:35): Yeah. It’s funny that you mentioned PIMs. I remember growing up and so I’m born and raised in New York City and my mom worked in commercial buildings. She was part of maintenance and now run maintenance in commercial buildings here in Manhattan. And one of the things I remember were seeing these PIMs and not only seeing these PIMs but then seeing these giant Rolodexes. And then I go and ask and I walk around some of the old offices sometimes and I’m always like, do they still have a Rolodex? Do they still have a PIM? And would it be better if they went to something like Salesforce or HubSpot to kind of get their goal across, right? And then you realize that that Rolodex, that PIM is everything and Soto most organizations, CRM is probably everything.
Ken Lorenz (10:27): Yeah, no, you’re absolutely right.
Azret Deljanin (10:29): And then when I think about I guess, your product RIVA, right, that concept of who can see what during and throughout your sales process is pretty important, right?
Ken Lorenz (10:41): Yeah, absolutely. I think the, and to kind of bring this back to security for a little bit, part of the reason we exist is that many of our customers don’t want to just automatically synchronize every conversation in every meeting, right? There’s sensitive information whether it’s PII data like social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, et cetera. Or maybe even worse, things that would set off an SEC violation, right, material non-public information.
Ken Lorenz (11:10): And so we do a really good job of ensuring that those patterns and that type of information doesn’t get sent over to CRM at all or gets redacted or through rule hierarchies is controlled the right way. I think people think about CRM adoption quite a bit. And the one question that I’ve always had is, is CRM adoption measured by how many times somebody logs in or how much they contribute and get value from the data contained within the CRM system? And if you limit the amount of data that can go in for security purposes you’ve got to strike that balance between what’s usable and relevant but also secure.
Azret Deljanin (11:53): How do you think the best organizations kind of use well, one, I would say is from a CRM perspective, right? And then I’m going to take the ERM approach here, the enterprise risk management approach here and say like well, where the data feeds come from is particularly important. One, is the data normalized and clean and do we have integrity of the data? From a risk management perspective, I’d say, having that permissions matrix is super important when you’re looking at a CRM. What can you see? What’s encrypted? What’s not encrypted? And is it encrypted for you and not encrypted for somebody else? But I think lastly is just that finer point of like, well you can have all of these things and all of these protections. And I think a lot of security companies struggle with this and security teams as well. What’s the business value that you’re adding by adding some level of hurdle or security to this? Right.
Azret Deljanin (12:50): Are you saving it revenue? Are you making it difficult? Are you enhancing the property? And I think that every tool that we kind of use in this business context, right, security at the end of the day is only useful if it’s providing protection but not getting in the way of revenue generation. Are you promoting the benefit that the business needs by implementing these security controls? And so I think it’s like a fine balance. Your CRM is your ecosystem where you can go and sell and protect data and understand client relationships and the relationships between those clients but you got to get it right. Because it’s folks data at stake, it’s your business data at stake and it’s really important to make everyone in the organization aware as to why you’re doing the things you’re doing in that CRM from a security perspective. Not that you’re in the way but to protect both the company and the user.
Ken Lorenz (14:02): Well, so that leads me down a really interesting question I meant to ask you a little bit deeper in this conversation but I’ll ask it now. I know you’ve worked for a couple different startups. How do you create that culture of compliance but doing that in a shared model at Yieldstreet?
Azret Deljanin (14:20): Yeah. I think what was really important to me at other organizations where I saw this… I didn’t have always a stake in the game in implementing sort of compliance and security measures really until my last startup, which was at LearnVest. I had done that much later on, I had done that prior to the acquisition at Northwestern Mutual. But when I think about how you gain adoption of these things, I think it there’s a couple of prongs in all of this. One is how early do you do it? Right. And some folks say well, maybe you don’t need it at 50. But I think you need some semblance of those ideas as early as you can even at five, even at two, right? I’m going to make a conscious effort to protect my data given my business processes.
Azret Deljanin (15:12): And so you kind of have to envision your business processes and ensuring that you have guardrails along the way and so kind of how do you do that? Right. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel unless your company is big enough or has more complex problems than the wheel already provides, right. Choose a framework, right. And be very justified as to why you’re using that framework. Why does this particular framework work for you and your business? Whether it’s COSO related controls or ISO-related controls or NIS-related controls. Why do these things matter to you and your business? Once you’ve kind of gone from there, I think you need to share that rationale with the rest of your organization. Right. And so I think security as much as it is control is education. Right. You know now not to pick up the phone when somebody calls you and says hey, I need your login information, I’m from Citi. Can you provide it to me? You’re getting phished over the phone.
Azret Deljanin (16:11): Every company has told you by now don’t provide financial information over the phone. We won’t ask you for it. Right. And so I think it’s just that, right? Why are we using this security framework? Right. We’re asking you to be a part of it. We’re asking you to help us because security is not a one team doesit. Security is an entire organization believes in it and uses its practices to be able to implement it. Right. I think that that’s super important. And then you kind of build training programs and processes along the way, right, and measure their performance. Right. And so when I think about what we did here a Yieldstreet, one of the first things we did was okay, great, we’re going to implement security awareness training. Right. But I think that’s only a piece of the puzzle, right? Security awareness training you do it once a year. By the end of the year, you forget and so then you think about well, what are all the things that are impacting your organization? What threats might you have? Right.
Azret Deljanin (17:09): And so I think every company has the phishing threat and so you do phishing exercises and you do phishing remedial training and you send out reminders and you do curated trainings. Right. And so I think if you kind of think about the two or three prongs that I’d like to use from building a security practice at any organization it’s, start with the compliance sort of framework you want to use. Two, educate your users on to the kinds of threats and the reasons why we’re protecting that data. And then three, measure the performance of your sort of security KPIs, right. Are you blocking phishing? Are things being reported? What is your training percentage? How are folks understanding the business? And keep reiterating that fact in conjunction with the business context, right. You’ll treat its investor firsthand so the security of an investor is a part of that goal, that is investor first.
Ken Lorenz (18:14): Maybe a little bit off the wall question related to that but things pop in your head every once in a while and you got to take advantage of them. When you think about the employees at Yieldstreet and you think about some of the things you just talked about education and whatnot, do you have a bigger challenge with employees that are let’s say baby boomers or millennials versus Gen Z, Gen X in abiding by and going along with those security issues? Or is there a group, in particular, that is easier or harder to manage?
Azret Deljanin (18:48): I don’t think it’s broken down by generation. I think it’s broken down by role, at least in my experience. Right. And so the sales team is like oh, that’s a deal that can be interesting, right? This is something that we can originate. Click this link here and now you have a problem, right. Or somebody in a sort of a support aspect, right in investor relations or some sort of client-facing role, right. They’re receiving and fielding requests all day and sometimes it’s the end of the day and you’re tired and you’re not really paying attention and you might make that mistake, right. And so what does the security team do in that regard? Well, you kind of take a risk-based approach, right. Your users who you might deem higher risk, you implement additional controls, additional training. You can do this with technology, you can do this with training courses, you can do this with workshops.
Azret Deljanin (19:51): I think that it’s not one size fits all, right. The engineer who just started or somebody who’s a lower or mid level engineer who has that sort of technology background may not get caught by these things. But then you see what happens with the sort of Lapsus$ hacks over the last couple of weeks, right. It was engineers, it was the best engineers, it was the systems administrators who know that this is probably a problem that get owned. And so I think the big thing you got to sort of weigh out is understanding your environment, looking for anomalies, assessing the risk of your users. And really just educating and making security a forefront. And you have to do it in a way where they trust the security team is keeping their business goals in their sort of best interest, right. I don’t do security here for security’s sake. I do it to protect our investor, to protect our users, to protect our reputation as a business. This is why we do it and this is why we do it this way and I think it’s important that you continue to do that.
Ken Lorenz (21:01): Let me shift gears just a little bit and let’s plug Yieldstreet for a second. The concept behind Yieldstreet I find very interesting, right and I think is the way you’ve described it, democratizing the ability for everyday Joes to, maybe it’s my interpretation, everyday Joes to be able to get access to investment vehicles that they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to. Talk a little bit about the model, if you would. I think our viewers or listeners would love to hear more about Yieldstreet.
Azret Deljanin (21:30): Yeah. Yieldstreet is definitely an interesting product. It’s a complex product on the inside but on the outside, it makes a lot of sense, right. I’ll give you an example of one of our most recent products, the Equity Fund, right, and so there are… Art is a specifically OPG market, right. You don’t know what’s there, I mean. And art is very subjective and the value of art is not objective, right. And so here you are kind of, you’re looking at the auction houses and you might be looking at what these things are. Now, I’m an average Joe. I’m not an art guy. I look at my portfolio and I realize that I’m 100% in stocks and equities, right.
Azret Deljanin (22:20): And Kramer on MSNBC says diversify, diversify, diversify. Right. I think MSNBC or is it CNBC? Not really sure. I just remember Kramer screaming at me. When I think about that I think, well, great here is something that’s cool. I mean, I’ve heard of Basquiat. I’ve heard of a few of the… I’ve heard of Banksy. It would be cool to own a piece of that, right. Where do I start? Well, I’m not going to go to Sotheby’s, I’m not going to go to Phillips and go buy a piece. I’d like to have a piece of it, right, or a piece of a lot of it. And I think that historically these were available again, in a sort of in an OPG market but Yieldstreet’s bringing these things more front and center, more available to retail investors. And I think that’s really cool.
Ken Lorenz (23:15): Absolutely. What would you say is working best for you to attract some of those new investors or investors that wouldn’t have otherwise gone down this kind of a route?
Azret Deljanin (23:24): I think it’s being entrenched in this space for quite a while now. Yieldstreet’s been around for over six years, I think maybe seven. I’ve been here for about three and a half and I’ve been an investor at Yieldstreet for four. When I kind of think about that, I think there hasn’t really been a lot of these companies in the space that long, right. And every year we become more and more of a name so I think there’s a few things. One is our diversification of assets, right. Whether you want to get into private business credit or arc or any one of these things, I think that’s attractive to investors. You’re kind of giving them a choice. It’s like walking into a BMW dealership, right. BMW’s philosophy is a car for every butt, right. You can have the sort of big X seven and we have those big, big, big deals where we’re paying… We’re looking at 19% to 25% yields and then we have those sort of shorter-term, lower-risk deals like a 330, right. We want to have a product for every investor and I think that that’s been beneficial for us.
Ken Lorenz (24:40): Outstanding. Let’s have a little bit of fun.
Azret Deljanin (24:44): Sure.
Ken Lorenz (24:44): Let’s kind of shift gears here for a second. As listeners of the podcast know, I like to do a couple of lightning rounds of questions and these are really easy, right. Personal opinion now, the catch is you can’t give away any phishing information.
Azret Deljanin (24:59): No problem.
Ken Lorenz (25:01): It’s easy stuff like yesterday was May the 4th, right? Star Wars or Star Trek?
Azret Deljanin (25:06): Star Wars.
Ken Lorenz (25:08): Good answer, personally. I don’t know if you can see there’s a Darth Vader back behind me. Coffee or tea?
Azret Deljanin (25:14): Coffee.
Ken Lorenz (25:16): Mac or PC?
Azret Deljanin (25:18): It’s agood questioning.
Ken Lorenz (25:20): Or Linux. Well, I’m on Mac.
Azret Deljanin (25:23): I mean, Mac for business, Linux for everything else.
Ken Lorenz (25:28): All right. Now, a trick question you mentioned BMW. BMW or Aston Martin?
Azret Deljanin (25:33): Are you talking about the racing team or the car?
Ken Lorenz (25:36): The car.
Azure Deljanin (25:37): BMW.
KenLorenz (25:38): All right. The mountains or the beach?
Azret Deljanin (25:43): The mountains.
Ken Lorenz (25:45): All right. We’ll stop there. There might be more depending on how old you make me feel.
Azret Deljanin (25:49): Sure. And any of those answers make you feel old?
Ken Lorenz (25:53): No. That wasall good.Azret Deljanin (25:55): Good.
Ken Lorenz (25:57): Yeah. We’ve talked about Yieldstreet. We’ve talked a bit about compliance. Maybe let’s drill in a little bit on compliance-related specifically to CRM and CRM or let’s say tech stack topics in general. One of the things that we noticed at Riva is that a lot of industries are moving forward around revenue stack, tech stacks. Where they’re adding a lot of capabilities around sales enablement, sales engagement, et cetera.I don’t know that we’re necessarily seeing it called that in financial services. Is that something that you’re seeing as well or is that concept just not getting across out to the public?
Azret Deljanin (26:46): I don’t see it here at Yieldstreet. And I think it depends on the product, right, and I think financial institutions now, I think FinTech is one side of things. And these companies are maybe a little older than a decade and as early as last week opening, right. And so you have some companies who are like yeah, it’s RevOps or the sort of red stack. But then you have these entrenched organizations, these large global institutions. And I don’t think they’re thinking about those things at all. I think it’s still CRM, right. What I think that they’re looking at is the way the data gets there, the integrity of that data, right. How that data evolves over time and really how you can sort of tell how I guess, the performance of every metric in that data.
Azret Deljanin (27:42): I’ll give you an example, right. Why would somebody’s income matter in a FinTech organization and it may not matter in a health tech organization, right? And so I think it’s really looking at like, are you getting the right pieces of data in for the sales folks? And then from a compliance perspective, right, each and every type of industry kind of has to look at data in a different way, right. HIPAA looking at data that everything has to be auditable, right. You need to be able to know how that data got there, who looked at it and when. Where in FinTech it’s less of that who looked at it and when and it’s can you see it or not? And how did you use it? And you can see that with the sort of books and records things going on with the SEC.
Azure Deljanin (28:34): To kind of go back on your question, what’s involved in sort of a CRM RevOps tech stack, I think not to throw names out there but it’s just an easy one for probably your listeners to understand but a customer data platform segment, for example. You have events firing on your website, you want to register those events. Those events might be somebody signed up the information they signed up with going to your CRM automatically. I think it’s that. I think the big thing is how are you enriching the data in your CRM? How are you making educated choices about the data that goes to your CRM? And how are you sort of protecting the integrity of that data and how much fidelity does it have, right.
Azret Deljanin (29:23): And so from a pure compliance standpoint, I think this is a little difficult because you sort of see this now, with privacy laws. Whether it’s CCPA, GDPR, Colorado, New York, there’s talks about a federal law going on right now about a federal privacy law. Am I compliant with privacy rules when I get that data there? Am I compliant with compliance rules ISO 27701 or your sort of COSO rules for privacy? Am I putting data there in the right place? Do folks know I’m collecting it? And are my team members using it in the right way? And so I think the best products are ones that can give you that picture, right. Given a compliance alternative, we can do this for you.
Ken Lorenz (30:15): We were talking about rev stack and let’s sprinkle in AI and ML into this conversation for a moment. In your mind, FinTech obviously has to pay attention to that from a security and compliance standpoint. Where do you think that falls or what compliance risk do you think AI presents to FinTech?
Azret Deljanin (30:36): I think the whole big thing around AI and ML to me is much more bias, right. I mean, if you think about AI and ML in its sort of rudimentary design, right, here is an algorithm we’re running against this set of data. Whether that algorithm runs in somebody else’s environment or in yours is really the question. Right. If it runs in your environment, have you controlled the blast radius of this AI or ML running amok? Or if you’re connecting to a third party and that’s doing assessments, what are they doing with that data? What do they see, right? How can you know that they’re looking at that data, doing something with it, giving it back to you and getting rid of it on their end, right? And so when I think about organizations in general, one of the things that you always hear is what are the sort of minimum compliance standards an organization has to meet?
Azret Deljanin (31:29): And one of those 5 to 10 things is do you have a strong third party risk management practice, right? Does your risk organization understand what this AI, ML organization slash algorithm is doing with your data and how it’s manipulating it? And so at the highest level, I think that that’s less of a concern if you are somebody who is developing AI and ML. You are a sort of technology-first organization and we’re going to assess you on your technology security practices, right. But I think what’s broader there and from a compliance perspective, I think it’s less around security and much more around the sentiments you gain from that data and the biases that these AI, ML algorithms create or sort of exemplify based on what is in your data already. And I think it’s just much more an ethical concern as opposed to a security concern.
Ken Lorenz (32:35): That’s a great answer. I think a lot of people are uneducated today about what AI and ML is all about and where that’s going to go. And I think that that was really good advice. I’m watching our clock here. We’ve got a little bit of time left and I’m dying to know, you mentioned because you told me. I didn’t find it online that you’re a Sebastian Vettel fan.
Azure Deljanin (33:00): I am.
Ken Lorenz (33:02): What attracted you to Sebastian Vettel?
Azret Deljanin (33:06): When I first started watching Formula One, he was the young leader in that space, right. I think it was2012 or 2013 when I started watching it and he won that year and he was just the fastest guy on the grid. And having been seeing who the champion is in your first year and kind of identifying with the fact that he was young and I was around his age at the time, I thought that that was awesome. And again, I didn’t know much about Formula One, right. I knew a lot about motor racing but I didn’t know a lot about Formula One.
Azret Deljanin (33:38): But then having seen him mature to be the sort of engineer racer. He sits in the paddock, he’s making engineering decisions and he’s probably making those decisions more so than any other driver on the grid. That was awesome, right. And so I kind of see myself in that boat, that engineering leader. And maybe I’m not in the driver’s seat anymore, which kind of gets me away from that medal but the idea is that my engineers can tell me, I hope that I can continue to have it so that the engineers on my teams can continue to tell me things. And I understand in light of business context as well, so that we can win that race.
Ken Lorenz (34:23): What you’re telling me is your engineers would never have you say something like leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.
Azret Deljanin (34:31): If I said that to my engineers, I’m sure I’d get some backlash but I probably have said it before and in prior roles. But if my engineers told me that I’d take a step back and listen.Ken Lorenz (34:45):Yeah, you got to love Kimi Raikkonen.
Azret Deljanin (34:48): He’s amazing. He’s also another amazing driver. I mean, I think there’s a lot of amazing drivers on the grid. You have the GOAT. I mean, he is the GOAT. You can be a Michael Schumacher fan but if you want to talk about eras, this era’s GOAT is Hamilton. And you have Verstappen who’s the new kid on the block who’s giving everybody a hard time on the grid. And you have Charles Leclerc who’s probably the next sort of champion in a great car. And then you have everybody else, right. Ricciardo, the clown on thegrid. It’s just, it’s such an exciting time to watch F1. I feel like it’s always been exciting but I think now since it’s so front and center and thank you Netflix for bringing America to it. It’s a good time to be an F1 fan.
Ken Lorenz (35:33): No, absolutely. I’ve been an F1 fan going back to the early 90s. I grew up around racing. My dad ran at three quarter sprint midget car up in the Northeast. I kind of have it in my blood but I think it’s exciting to see Americans really take to F1. I think the American mantra is well, let’s watch NASCAR and let’s watch the Rocks in Yahoo. But I think people that are really racing phishing autos get it, right. They get that it’s a chess match. They get that the technology in these cars and what these drivers have to do to prepare is just incredible. My hat’s off to every one of them. Here’s the big question. Why aren’t we doing this interview in Miami this weekend?
Azret Deljanin (36:20): $2,000, $3,000 tickets at ticket release. I did try, it just didn’t work out. And I typically, it’s funny the first race I went to was in Montreal, which was a lot of fun. And I think that well, we saw last year in Austin how much of a celebrity fest F1 had become because it’s been a celebrity fest in Europe but now in theUnited States. Everyone’s there and now that you’re in Miami, it’s going to be like the who’s who is there. And I think that really drove up to prices so there’s always next year. I think if we do a follow-up conversation, we got to have a conversation on the paddock.
Ken Lorenz (37:02): Absolutely. Well, then to COTA. COTA is a great track, excited to see what they’re going to do in Vegas. If it’s a circus in Miami, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like in Vegas.
Azret Deljanin (37:13): Well, it’s going to be a much faster track that’s for sure. I think they said it was like almost two and a half miles of straights.
Ken Lorenz (37:22): Got to love big DRS zones.
Azret Deljanin (37:23): I love it.
Ken Lorenz (37:25): Awesome. Listen, last two things. Number one, I want to flip the tables. Is there anything you want to ask me? I put you on the spot a couple times. I’m going to give you the return option.
Azret Deljanin (37:40): Yeah. You mentioned your background in sort of the AI space and I’m not entirely familiar with your product. But kind of thinking about how you’re sort of protecting data within a CRM, what uses do you see for AI, ML for your product, right? If you were to look at the future or even today, you don’t have to dig into the details but how can AI and ML help?
Ken Lorenz (38:07): It’s an interesting conundrum for us. One of the things that we’re known for in the industry is being a data operations platform that doesn’t store the data, right? We’re a pass-through technology, we encrypt it. What goes through the pipe is not our business, right? Our job is to make sure it gets there securely and curated and so on. But if we’re going to leverage AI and ML technologies, we’ve got to do that either on de-identified data or based on metadata, right, and understand those patterns. And so that’s an area that we’re looking at very closely, but our flagship is all about doing it securely, doing it at a scalable clip.
Ken Lorenz (38:46): We’ll see where we go with it from an AI, ML perspective but I can imagine working with a lot of FinTechfirms, one of the commonalities that we see is understanding broad activity data. Whether it’s conversations, meetings, how many meetings does it take to close the deal kind of stuff. What customer segments should we spend more time with or less time with? Right. Those are things that AI can give us a clue to that maybe we’re not getting today. It’s not just about the next best action on an individual account basis. It’s next best action about how do we better align the business to secure more investors or secure more share of their wallet, right? Those are the kinds of things I think we’re thinking about.
Azret Deljanin (39:36): You brought up a couple of interesting points that I want to double click on. One, you mentioned disparate data sources, phone calls, emails, data that might be generated as a part of certain operational things such as clicking a website and data being fed in there or manually entered, right. I think that there’s that piece. You mentioned financial institutions. I’m not making an assumption of size but when I think about financial institutions, I think large databases of this data and forever growing databases of this data. And then you mentioned sort of thinking about the analysis of that data and so the one thing that hits me then is you have all of these sort of disparate data sources that are large and likely not the same and you have to do all this processing. How do you do that at scale? How does your business scale when you think about your sort of technology environment? How do you make this all work for all of your customers?
Ken Lorenz (40:35): Yeah, that’s a great question. One of the things that our customers have asked us to push the envelope on is scale. One of our customers, I won’t mention who they are process either create or change over 3million meetings on Mondays, right. I mean, you can consider that. Now, who they’re meeting with and why they’re meeting with those clients is not necessarily something we’re concerning ourselves with but what can we learn about why those meetings are being scheduled or rescheduled or moved around? And those are the kind of things that we’re interested in. But why does that need to, if we’re updating those meetings and we’re doing it at scale, why is that important? Well, the reason it’s important is you’ve got a large number of automated tools now for customers to schedule time with you, as an example, right.
Ken Lorenz (41:28): You don’t just walk into a bank anymore and say, I want to open up a debit account. You go to the portal, you set an appointment to meet with a banker, right. And thanks COVID and thanks all that stuff but if your calendar is not being synchronized into the sales in this case, let’s say a Salesforce event calendar rapidly, you risk the run of double bookings or missing meetings, et cetera. Because somebody scheduled time with you that wasn’t really available but it just hadn’t been synchronized yet. The secret sauce on how we get that level of performance, we can share it a different time but we’ve worked really hard at it so that we’ve got customers that have north of let’s say 25, 30,000 individuals processing calendars at scale. And those are synchronizing in less than two minutes at scale, which is far better than we’ve seen in the industry in quite a long time.
Azret Deljanin (42:27): I’ll be sure that on The Yield Podcast, which we do have shameless plug to talk to you about that aspect of Riva because I’m super interested always at technology stacks at scale and securing them. And so that’d be pretty cool to talk about.
Ken Lorenz (42:47): Awesome. Last question I’ve got for you and we’re going to end right on time, is there anything that you want the listeners to know that we haven’t talked about already? I’ll give you the open mic.
Azret Deljanin (43:01): That’s a interesting thing. I thought my audience was you but to be more clear, right, I think a lot of and I hope lots of FinTechs and health techs and regulated companies hear this. It’s really up to the security teams and leadership to build a practical and trustworthy sort of security team, right, have folks understand why you’re doing things, provide context. This way you’re not looking down the bottom of the barrel of an SEC examination because I think security is an organizational problem and not a team problem. The regulatory bodies are beginning to understand that, which is why these new rules are being drafted. And so find team members or work with individuals who help share that narrative, right.
Azret Deljanin (43:56): Bring your business context and security together. Just like every company is becoming a software company or is a software company with a different discipline. Software needs to be secured. It is not easy and it is fairly complex and I think the industry also sees that so it’s creating easier and easier tools to make that a reality. But yeah, I mean, I think the big thing, if there’s one thing that I’d like to tell the audience is especially, those in founder positions, work with your technology teams and your security teams and your sort of risk and compliance teams to find a security framework that works for you and start as early as possible.
Ken Lorenz (44:37): That’s great advice. Azret it was a pleasure meeting you and spending the last hour with you. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did.
Azret Deljanin (44:45): I did. Thank you very much for your time.
Speaker 1 (44:48): Thank you for tuning in to the RevTech Revolution Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please don’t forget to rate, review, and share this with colleagues who would benefit from it. If you would like to learn more about how Riva can help you improve your customer data operations, check outrivaengine.com.