Enabling Digital Business Growth

Posted February 9, 2018

In this episode Armen is joined by Tamara McCleary, CEO of Thulium.co. They explore the benefits of accepting that digital business growth now depends on a great customer experience.


Armen:   Hi, I’m here with Tamara McCleary for today’s edition of Digital Identity 360. We’re actually on location at the Digital Identity Summit in San Francisco. Tamara, welcome to…

Tamara:   Yay!

Armen:     Yeah, so … It is a moment to cheer.

Tamara:   It was fantastic.

Armen:   Yes, yeah. What are your thoughts overall?

Tamara:   Well, I have to say, I was really impressed because normally, I’m swimming in the marketing waters, and what I thought was really cool is to see so many organizations, their fraud and threat departments here talking about the customer experience.

Armen:   Isn’t that amazing?

Tamara:   Yeah.

Armen:   That would have never happened 10 years ago…

Tamara:   No.

Armen:   But it’s amazing. This is the language everybody speaks today.

Tamara:   Yeah, I’m thinking…

Armen:   For all the right reasons, right?

Tamara:   Silos breaking down everywhere. It was amazing. So, I just thought it was fantastic to have this conversation because as technology is evolving … We’re all connected now, we’ve got FitBits and the internet of things and…

Armen:   Yes.

Tamara:   Autonomous vehicles, you think, “Okay, so there’s all of this data coming in that’s tracking us, why are we all out there not talking about security?” And you guys are. You live this. You breathe it every day.

Armen:   We live it, we breathe it, we sleep it, yes. Now I will have an opposing point of view, in that … I agree with you. Everyone is speaking the language of customercentricity and treating customers the same across the journey or having the context to treat them appropriately across their journey.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   One of the speakers that was on stage, very senior person with one of the big banks, came up to me yesterday after we met and he said, “Listen.” He goes, “My point of view is, at the end of the day … The fraud people, they might talk about customer experience, but at the end of the day, they’re gonna defer to just stopping the fraud at the expense of a good experience.”

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   I was like, okay, that’s a really interesting thought, and there’s probably some truth to that.

Tamara:   Yeah.

Armen:   And maybe in his world, maybe more truth than not but … What are your thoughts about that? Are we just speaking what sounds good versus actually delivering on it?

Tamara:   Well, you know, if we’re gonna talk about business bottom line, I think that if you’re not looking at your customer as potentially a threat to the survival of your business, then you’re not eyes wide open because honestly, customer centricity isn’t just about the customer. There’s a business side to that, which is when your customer is happy, when they feel safe, they feel secure, they’re gonna continue to put their faith and truth in you. And this doesn’t … You know, it’s not just B to C. We’re talking B to B in enterprise because in the space that I work in, it’s all B to B in enterprise, is that that brand must be an established thought leader, the go to, and the whole thing for your conference, the currency of trust, is part and parcel of that piece. You will never win the business unless they trust you, and you will never keep the business unless they trust you, and if there is a breach, you stand to lose the business.

Armen:   So it’s all about having the right context with which to treat the customer or fraudster appropriately…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   At that moment of truth.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   One of my famous quotes that my team will say, they all say it all the time is, “Happy customers spend more money and generally want to tell their friends and family about how good of an experience they had,” right?

Tamara:   Amen. Amen.

Armen:   So let’s…

Tamara:   That’s definitely the truth.

Armen:   Let’s treat our customers well.

Tamara:   Yeah.

Armen:   But back to the earlier point is, historically, and when I say historically, maybe 10 years ago, before companies like ThreatMetrix even existed…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   The fraud departments and even the security departments sort of had a direct line to the top, right? I mean, these…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   And that’s changed. And decisions were sort of made around with sort of an absolute point of view.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   It’s like I will lock the security and prevent any possible fraud or security breach to take place, at the expense of any other consideration like a good customer experience. And that’s changed now. So we’re seeing it almost inverted now, right? Where business units…

Tamara:   Yes.

Armen:   A digital business unit, a mobile business unit has someone who is thinking about the customer experience, and within that is sort of the fraud or security components, right? So it’s been inverted. For all the right reasons, right? So, despite what the unnamed person said, which maybe is true in his or her world.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   I have an optimistic point of view that we are actually practicing what we preach as an industry.

Tamara:   Yeah.

Armen:   Certainly from where we sit at ThreatMetrix, this is what we believe our entire business is built around, is providing the context so that we can empower our customers to make the right decision at that moment of truth for their consumers so…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   Anyway, we believe in this.

Tamara:   No, you guys definitely … I’m really excited about what you’re doing. And just to touch on your point, I think the reason things have changed so much is we are living in an era of unprecedented innovation and technology is moving at light speed and changing and rocking all of our worlds. In fact, most of us in any sort of senior position, there’s no way we could have learned anything of what we’re doing now in university, because they didn’t have the technology back then, right? So we are all learning and adapting, and I think the reason why no longer can the fraud or threat department just make a decision without consulting everyone at the table, is that … Boy, it’s a competitive market space out there, and everyone is vying for the customer, and so it has to be a very well thought out decision, because all of us in business are looking for the two guys in a garage somewhere that we don’t know about yet.

Armen:   Catching lightning in a bottle.

Tamara:   Yes.

Armen:   Yeah, so … Yes. So Tricia Phillips from Gartner, who did a great presentation yesterday, her big quote that I really liked was, ” A good customer experience is a competitive advantage.”

Tamara:   Yes.

Armen:   Totally agreed. I can’t see how anyone would disagree with that.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   But it’s actually sort of making that, and realizing that, and executing on that is the make or break for not just the companies we serve, but I’d say anyone who operating a digital business.

Tamara:   Right. And I think one thing that you and I have talked about, and I see with ThreatMetrix, is the fact that you really are trying to create this frictionless experience for your customer, because it is a dance between being frictionless and yet really watching out, watching the back of your customer so that they are safe and secure. But people are easily annoyed these days with any sort of effort they have to take to manage their own security, but we have to. We absolutely have to. And it’s interesting to me that you guys are able to do so much of taking away that friction from your customer, and still ensuring their security.

Armen:   So I know in your line of business, you’re speaking to head of digital, CIOs, and others, maybe CMOs as well. Historically, our audience, our tribe was more on the technical side or IT side, and that’s fundamentally changed in the last five years, right?

Tamara:   Yes.

Armen:   We, here at our summit, we have heads of digital, heads of business units, even heads of marketing. And so I’d say it’s probably 50/50 right now in terms of the traditional fraud security folks mixed, maybe more the business focus folks. But when you think about the audiences that you speak to, the heads of digital, I guess. And if you were to talk to them about your experience here at the Summit, as it relates to their interest, what would you share as the highlights, playing back to that audience?

Tamara:   I think the highlights are some of the new things that you all are rolling out which, in my world, I didn’t know existed until I came to the Digital Identity Summit.

Armen:   Who knew, right?

Tamara:   I didn’t know. But I think there’s a good many of us that don’t know out there. And so, I think that I’m pretty impressed with the fact that what you’re essentially doing is you are helping large organizations help their customers in such an invisible, seamless way, that no one even knows that you exist.

Armen:   That’s true.

Tamara:   You’re like the superheroes with the cape.

Armen:   We are, we are. An invisible cape. No, as Reed says, our CEO, we are truly enabling digital business to grow profitably.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   Right? Keeping out the bad and enabling a frictionless experience for the good.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   So we are enablers of digital business growth, and we’ve developed our branding and positioning around that, and you heard some of the case studies up there. I would say it was equally split with talk about fraud and sort of understanding who’s a bad actor, but also how to grow your top line, I think. The Netflix example was a great one, right?

Tamara:   Oh, it was fantastic.

Armen:   So how do you convert … How do you successfully convert and increase the conversion…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   Of trial accounts, of good trial accounts to full paying customers? And that’s a revenue story right there.

Tamara:   I loved what Madden was sharing. You really could see his passion…

Armen:   Yes.

Tamara:   For his company, and the passion that Netflix, it seems, really has for their customer. And you know, I really enjoy watching big brands embrace that human side, because the more we get steeped into technological advances, I think it’s so easy for us to become sterile.

Armen:   Yup.

Tamara:   And people are tired of sterile, sanitized messages from companies. They want to feel that human connection, that human piece, that caring piece, but also that vulnerable piece. I mean, it’s not if you will be breached, it’s when, right? And so, I think part of it is just knowing that breaches occur, and I think that, as we heard many, many, many times today, it’s assume you’ve already been breached.

Armen:   Accept that we live in a post-breach world, right? That needs to be our starting point, and then how do you behave and plan accordingly? And that’s been our mantra for a long time. Yeah, Equifax is catching a lot of flack, but there’ll be other breaches to follow.

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   There’s certainly been other big ones in the past, and I think that underlies the reason for our existence. Because those large-scale breaches are on data attributes that have been out there for a long time, these are sort of the static attributes. Your name, your social security number, your physical mailing address, almost artifacts of the past as they relate to what elements are needed to drive decisions today…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   In the digital age that we live, in real time, right? We’re not talking about considered mortgage review processes. We’re talking about…

Tamara:   Instantaneous.

Armen:   How do you sort of get the approval to buy the latest iPhone…

Tamara:   Right.

Armen:   As that’s happening right now?

Tamara:   Yeah.

Armen:   So it’s empowering these digital businesses to make the right decision at that moment in time, and drive their businesses forward.
Tamara:   Absolutely. And I think, with Experian, I think all of us have to be careful to not cast the first stone. I mean, I would challenge any organization and any individual to say that they’ve been completely perfect in how they handle the information or the passwords.

Armen:   Yup. Not gonna happen, yeah.

Tamara:   And the logins.

Armen:   Yeah.

Tamara:   And, you know, what’s interesting, too, is … I mentioned this on stage yesterday, was that Gartner actually wrote that they see through 2020 that companies that have experienced breaches, their IT department already knew about the problem a year before it occurred, so we do have to be careful to cast stones, because I think we’re all in this together. And I liked the talk at the summit about Consortium.

Armen:   Yup.

Tamara:   I mean, we are stronger, we are better together.

Armen:   Or as Alisdair would say, “consortee-ums.” Right?

Tamara:   I love Alisdair. He was a riot on stage. You guys have to get him on stage more. He’s hilarious.

Armen:   He’s a performer, yes.

Tamara:   He’s great.

Armen:   He’s really good, yeah.

Tamara:   I’ve got so many quotes from Alisdair. I think I’m gonna have to blog about Alisdair.

Armen:   Host him on your show.

Tamara:   Yeah, I’ll have to do that.

Armen:   Yeah, so I think this whole concept of birds of a feather, Consortium, because we’re dealing with anonymized data, enables them to share, number one, develop best practices and do it in a way that’s protecting their own business, and ultimately protecting the consumer. And so, we’ve started to see this behavior, certainly at the industry level, right? Within the banking sector, or the commerce sector, or the healthcare sector, which I know you’ve spent a lot of time in.

Tamara:   Yes.

Armen:   And it’s doing that. So how do you sort of leverage the collective shared intelligence, encrypted, anonymized, to make the very best decisions, and not have to reinvent the wheel every time you’re out there?

Tamara:   That gets me so exited.

Armen:   Right?

Tamara:   And that reason … You mentioned healthcare, so I’ll blame it on you.

Armen:   Here we got. The door’s open.

Tamara:   The reason that gets me to excited is, when you look at the fact that … I think the general consumer out there doesn’t realize what anonymized data means.

Armen:   Yup.

Tamara:   And in order for us to move the needle with artificial intelligence and using, harnessing that power to cure cancer, to … I would say we’re even moving to a place where we preemptively am able to know when we need to fix something before it gets bad. We do that in industry already, like manufacturing. In manufacturing, we are preemptively fixing things before they break. I do believe we’ll do that with human beings, but we can’t get there until we’re sharing the data. And your personal data, when it’s anonymized, it’s not your name, your social security number, your birth date, it’s anonymized. But we’re not having that sharing yet, and so that’s why systems that have these amazing … The AI capacity, the artificial intelligence capacity, aren’t able to do this yet in healthcare, because we just have separate facilities collecting data.

Armen:   Well, I’ll tell you what, at least for identities, we can do that for the healthcare space.

Tamara:   I think you should.

Armen:   We’ve solved the problem. We’ve done the heavy lifting, right?

Tamara:   I will be out there championing you for that.

Armen:   Alright, well I’m gonna hold you to it.

Tamara:   Okay, because we need to do that for humanity.

Armen:   We do. Let’s make the world a better place.

Tamara:   My life started off with wanting to cure cancer and, to me, this is a really viable way. It’s truly viable. I think it’s within our grasp. It’s within our lifetime, and we don’t have any time to waste.

Armen:   Let’s get to it.

Tamara:   Especially me.

Armen:   I’m not that far behind you, believe me. Good, good. So any parting thoughts, just about your experience here or just looking forward?

Tamara:   Yeah, I didn’t know that fraud security people could be so fun.

Armen:   We’re all fun, yes. Yes.

Tamara:   This was actually a really fantastic…

Armen:   We aerial artists last night.

Tamara:   Oh my gosh, yeah.

Armen:   How cool was that?

Tamara:   I’ve never seen anyone hang from the ceiling and play a violin.

Armen:   Isn’t that cool? We had magicians that steal your money. We had Chinese dragon dancers.

Tamara:   Wait, you can do that just walking outside.

Armen:   We had the summer of love. We had hippies on stage a summer of love performance. I mean, how cool was that? Where else can you get that but the Digital Identity Summit?

Tamara:   Yeah, you know, I’m pretty impressed. I think you guys are pretty hip, actually.

Armen:   Alright.

Tamara:   Yeah.

Armen:   We’re validated. Alright, good.

Tamara:   Yeah, so if anyone missed the Summit, they definitely need to come next year. And then, I was salivating because I heard it’s gonna be in sunny Southern California.

Armen:   Yes. At the Terranea.

Tamara:   So, hopefully you will have capacity for more, because we were maxed at capacity.

Armen:   Yes we were.

Tamara:   And you had to turn people away.

Armen:   Our biggest ever.

Tamara:   So, are you gonna have a bigger spot next time?

Armen:   So, we actually were at the Terranea last year, and it’s a big room, and yes, we’ll accommodate. We’ll make it work.

Tamara:   Excellent.

Armen:   Yes, yes.

Tamara:   Yeah. It’s exciting. So, can’t wait to follow and see what you guys are doing, and when you’re ready to completely infiltrate healthcare, let me know.

Armen:   We know where to go. Alright, well thank you for joining us, Tamara, on Digital Identity 360. Really appreciate it. Really appreciate your support here at the summit, and thanks very much.

Tamara:   Thank you Armen. Thank you so much.

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