The IXUP breakthrough of secure data collaboration.

In 2011 Apple released the iPhone 4s, NASA retired its 40-year old space shuttle program and Facebook enabled users to share their data in a ‘frictionless’ way. It was also the year that IXUP was established to deliver a secure data collaboration innovation.

Seven years on, Apple is working on iPhone 11, Elon Musk is planning a manned space mission to Mars and Facebook is in hot water for user data being exposed by frictionless sharing. IXUP’s vision for secure data collaboration has proved prescient indeed.

I started this business when I realised that organisations needed better collaboration tools to understand their customers. Organisations were just beginning to understand that if they pooled their data, they could uncover really impressive insights to better inform their business strategies. This was the traditional ‘data sharing’ model.

There were substantial problems with the model though: it meant sharing your customer knowledge – closely held competitive information – with outsiders. It also meant revealing private information customers had only agreed to share with you. The only sensible answer was to de-personalise all customer data by removing any information that outsiders could use to identify individual customers. And this clearly placed limitations on the value of the data.

I was convinced there had to be a better answer to this conundrum.

That no one else had come up with the answer yet was irrelevant to me. Not for the first time in my life was I grateful for my unorthodox approach to things, even if others haven’t always appreciated it!  A linear response to a problem is not always the best solution – in this instance, it was especially true.

And as we addressed this challenge, we realised that the IXUP solution could deliver numerous other unexpected benefits including meeting growing risk and compliance requirements, granular business intelligence, and safeguarding organisational reputation.

I have a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to deliver secure data collaboration and overcome the problems of data sharing. In the past, some people lectured me about being so determined that a solution must exist and for never taking no for an answer. In reality, though, conviction combined with unconventional thinking is the only way I have been able to find better ways of doing things.

In this case, the key point that  led to the creation of IXUP was when I realised that iterating existing ways of data matching would never fully address how to collaborate securely with other parties without exposing your data.  Iteration is linear, so I knew that I had to approach this in a totally new way.

My answer was to completely change the way we treated the data itself: in other words, uniquely encrypting every cell of information and inventing a way to match commonalities across multiple databases in near real time. In non-tech speak, this essentially means that two or more organisations can now derive unparalleled business insights by matching all their information but without any of them seeing the other parties’ data.

As I alluded to earlier, the security of data has become a high-profile issue, and organisations across the world – companies, governments, public sectors services – are facing intense scrutiny about whether the information they collect on their audiences – customers or citizens – is safe from human error, system failure and malicious intent.

As recent media reports have revealed, closing the stable door after the horse has bolted is not a fix – in fact it creates even more problems. It is expensive and time consuming to scrutinise every single piece of data to trace how and when it was exposed. Data breaches may even invite unwelcome and costly attention from regulators, and of course, the reputational damage can be enormous.

The breakthrough IXUP achieved by enabling secure data collaboration compared to sharing provided an elegant solution to these concerns. Our approach means organisations now have a trusted way of collaborating, which ticks a lot of boxes for chief risk officers, CFOs, CEOs and Boards in terms of compliance, safety and privacy in an increasingly regulated field.

It has also delivered a way of achieving far more granular insights because the need to strip identifying details from the data no longer exists. This means that the journey to a market segmentation of one – knowing who each and every single customer is and how best to reach them – has suddenly got a lot closer to its destination. This is the nirvana of every chief marketing officer.

I have been asked what this adventure into uncharted territory has taught me. As I contemplate finding solutions to new data challenges, I know that my best route is not to follow where others have gone before. New worlds await those who don’t need or even want a map.

By Dean Joscelyne, IXUP Founder & Executive Director

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