Protecting consumer privacy with Dataguise founder Manmeet Singh
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Protecting consumer privacy with Dataguise founder Manmeet Singh

Long before data privacy was at the center of attention — and regulatory initiatives like California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect — a startup called Dataguise was working on protecting consumer privacy and helping organizations keep track of users’ personal data.

On this week’s episode of the What’s NEXT podcast, we speak with Dataguise founder and CEO Manmeet Singh about the tipping point that pushed everyone’s attention toward data and privacy, and how Dataguise is addressing those changing concerns.

Treating personal data with respect
Manmeet says the shifting privacy marketplace highlights the need for a solution that automates compliance and security related to personal data privacy. Before becoming a mainstream issue in the digital economy, consumers were relatively apathetic about their data privacy and security. As a result, large enterprises indiscriminately collected data and shared or sold it to third parties, and software companies built products without privacy and security in mind.

Today the status quo has changed. How personal data is collected, stored, and shared matters to consumers — and Dataguise is part of the new reality. “I realized that here should be companies who should be protecting this data,” Manmeet says. “And that’s when we started this company.”

A new way of thinking
The Dataguise platform has been around for more than a decade. But when it was first developed, most of the people purchasing the software were IT directors and IT managers, not security and privacy managers.

Dataguise initially marketed its product to meet the demand for data hygiene solutions. Larger corporations who bought the product were interested in it primarily for data hygiene, not due to regulatory or privacy concerns. “Secure it, mask it, protect it,” Manmeet says, were some of its early selling points.

But the tipping point came a few years ago, when several large data breaches — including Equifax’s data breach in 2017 that exposed the personal information of 147 million people, and a Facebook security breach in 2018 that exposed the accounts of 50 million users — made data security a global issue, Manmeet says.

Suddenly the focus shifted from keeping data clean to preventing it being stolen, sold, or shared without an individual’s permission.

“That’s when people started realizing and becoming more aware,” says Manmeet. “And they started asking the question from their own companies where they took the loans from, or where they had the bank accounts: ‘Guys, what are you doing with my data? What do you have on it? What do you have on me? What all do you have on me with this?'”

Meeting new regulatory challenges
Stricter regulations, like those included with GDPR and CCPA, have become a catalyst for more companies to develop policies and solutions for storing, protecting and securing data.

The Dataguise platform has evolved to meet the need for enterprise-level data protection and privacy solutions. It works anywhere there is a centralized store of data. Because the company has been in data industry longer than most of its competitors, it has an advantage, says Manmeet.

Smaller companies realize a proof of concept isn’t necessary when they work with Dataguise. Moreover, the existing Dataguise customer base has provided fertile ground for offering new services, such as the company’s Privacy On Demand platform.

In fact, the company’s early sales challenges are now gone, Manmeet says. “Now I don’t have to convince people that, ‘Hey, this is needed, this is required.’ My team just goes there and they are like, ‘Yeah, yeah we need it.'”

Of course, the questions most new customers ask no longer are focused on data hygiene. Their focus is on data privacy and security. “Now,” says Manmeet, “it’s more like, ‘How do you secure it and what kind of platforms do you secure it for?'”

Looking ahead, the core value proposition for Dataguise is to provide security solutions that are designed to scale with cloud services and big data platforms. Traditional security methods don’t cut it anymore to keep sensitive information safe, and Dataguise provides an alternative.

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