data securityWhen you hear the name Seclore, it immediately registers in your mind as a young, unique company offering a unique subset of security for the enterprises of today – Information Rights Management. I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Vishal Gupta, Founder CEO of Seclore who, like many others, took his engineering passion to the real world and worked on an innovation that later became a mainstream technology for safeguarding the data – the only key to growth in all times to come.

This IIT Bombay (B) grad, fresh from college, worked for over a year to get the first product out of Seclore’s stable. “Seclore has been in existence for 6 years now and our IRM product has been there for five. It took us almost a year to develop, and prototype our first product before any public announcement,” says Gupta who now works out of Mountain View Calif. and travels wherever business wants him.

If the first year of the existence was purely for the product development, the next couple of years weren’t easy either. Though an ingenious company born out of an IIT campus, Seclore was pitching against the large incumbent MNCs. “The product was superb but we had to evangelize it for almost two years. It means, we spent 24 hours working on it but that didn’t reflect in the revenue.”

So, did Seclore come out of the evangelizing mode? Indeed, and is now on steady path to progress. A combination of both internal and external factors worked in favor of Seclore’s go-to-market. “Information security debate has now reached the boardrooms. We see CEOs getting fired for inappropriate data/info security. Board members are conscious of the fact that only a strong InfoSec program can safeguard the stakeholder’s value.” It’s established that InfoSec has far bigger implications than the sheer loss of information. It’s no more just about loss of money or reputation. Now even national defense and critical infrastructure assets are on the target of hackers and has the potential of jeopardizing national interests, to say the least. “An enthusiastic hacker in UAE hacked into the billing system of an electric utility company and managed to pass on his payable amount on to others. He started that as a business before being caught. That’s what a lack of InfoSec can do.”

These were some of the external factors that helped Seclore grow its IRM beyond the boundaries. However, there is more to it. There are a host of internal factors that helped the company establish its credibility. “If the product isn’t relevant to the customers’ needs, it’s a sure shot disaster,” feels Vishal. “Most iterations in our product have happened by way of customer feedback.” “The users of our products were our best marketing tools.”

At the time when Seclore first launched its IRM product in Indian and Middle East, the companies in these geographies were still grappling with the basics – the Antiviruses and the Firewalls. “The evangelizing period I mentioned earlier was the time when we tried to convince companies about what more problems will they confront, which will be outside the purview of antiviruses and firewalls.”

The Growth Trajectory

Having passed the stage of initial skepticism and inhibition for adopting ‘ahead-of-its-time’ product like IRM, it was easy for Seclore to go for geo expansion and create a wider outreach. “The last three years have been a total ‘sellout’ for us. We’ve grown the company’s revenue 15X in last three years. From a 35 people in India in 2013, Seclore now has a total of 180 employees across Singapore, India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, US and Bermuda. We sell to 39 countries in total through our direct and partner-led businesses,” says Vishal.

This privately held company partly owned by IIT Bombay, supported by the Government of India and manned by a large workforce now boasts of a world-class IRM solution that even an MNC will envy.

The growth for Seclore has been uniform across the geographies that it operates. Since the company has just begun its operations in Singapore and Europe, it will have to wait till the growth kicks in. However, the major growth comes from its established markets like North America, Indian and Middle East.

While the going is great, Vishal doesn’t forget to underline a key point about technology startups coming out of India. “A company born in India always suffers from a stigma that building a technology for India may be irrelevant for the western and eastern markets. In case of Seclore too, the doubt was always there,” says Vishal. However, having competed in the advanced markets, Seclore now has a great lineage to showcase. “Our technology is being used by the largest companies in the world,” says a beaming Vishal. Some of the largest companies, from sectors like automobile, pharmaceutical, insurance and media and entertainment use Seclore IRM. “Deloitte is both our customer and a partner,” he says. This is enough to prove that Seclore’s IRM technology isn’t a country or sector specific. It is globally relevant.

Why IRM? What’s the Big Deal?

The traditional tenets of InfoSec have always relied upon creating walls around the enterprise information assets be it workstations, datacenter or networks. However, today’s enterprises are no longer confined to these walls. There’s an extension to the enterprise and that extension also contains the same critical data. “The value chain of an enterprise has breached the walls. And it is the weakest link in that value chain that defines the security of the information,” says Vishal. Therefore, the big concern that is often raised is whether the information residing within the enterprise remains safe by securing its walls? The answer is No!

So how does this information really get secured? How can the executive leadership of an enterprise understand the value of data and therefore secure it?

IRM or E-DRM (Enterprise Digital Rights Management) is an appropriate answer. It gives protection to sensitive information from unauthorized access. “The adoption starts from the top. We have been able to convince the top management of enterprises like the CEO, Chairman or board members. It only works well when it comes from the top,” emphasizes Vishal. “If you pick up 50 richest families in India and ask how they protect their data, chances are they will say they use Seclore,” he says.

IRM in the Digital Age

While the importance of data/information security should never be a subject matter of second thought, its vitality has gone up by leaps and bounds in the age of digital business. It’s not just an extended enterprise that is in the play now. The need for ‘collaboration on the go’ has been the new mandate for businesses eyeing hyper growth. “While the need to collaborate internally and externally has taken a massive leap, it is equally important to secure that collaboration. This gives birth to an inherent conflict. Enterprises have to make a choice between security and collaboration,” he says. While enterprises have been able to handle the device security by adopting MDM solutions, or securing apps at the time of making them but is the end goal of an enterprise really to secure the device or an application? “No,” says Vishal. “These are surrogate methods of securing the data residing on the device, app or the network. That’s what the enterprises should be looking at securing,” contents Vishal. Seclore, in this digital age, seems to be relying heavily on the fact that the security of data is possible to be combined with the collaborative nature of the application, the devices, the networks and the people? “Security needs to be data centric whereas the collaboration can be based on the device,” emphasizes Vishal. At a time when the whole of industry is keen to move its tech infra on the cloud, devices are pretty hardened, and the network belongs to the telcos, the only thing left to be worried is data. “Security policies can be locked in with the data instead of getting locked in to the application or devices. Because you can’t reorganize the security every time you change your application or device,” he says.

Finally, where will IRM Go?

While the Seclore IRM product is in the market for many years and is trusted by its customers, it has always been on an evolutionary path. From what it was five years and what it is now, it has certainly matured in the way users use IRM. Seclore feels that burdening/tasking the end user with the IRM is bit too much.  After all, it’s not their job. So, IRM technology of today and the future will have to be conducive for the end users. “Our effort is to as much automate the product as it is humanly possible so that the end users aren’t bothered about how the information is getting secured. There’s a lot we have learnt from the user behavior and that’s reflected in the evolution of our technology, he concludes.