Tom Harwood, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Aeriandi
Can you tell us a bit about your career so far and how you arrived in your current role?
During my degree in physics from University College London I met Matthew Bryars. We both saw potential in establishing a highly secure, cloud-based business and embarked on setting up our own company. Together we founded Aeriandi in 2002. We’re as passionate today about the use of technology to help businesses transact securely as when we met 12 years ago. I still get a real buzz out of being actively involved in some of the ideas and technology we produce.
Tell us about Aeriandi and what the company does
We are a voice technology company, specialising in security and compliance products that are sold through the world’s biggest telcos.
One of our most successful products helps to protect phone payments. This in turn helps our clients to achieve and retain PCI DSS compliance. We have also constructed a huge secure recording platform for phone calls and data that continues to grow at a fantastic rate.
What has been the company’s greatest success?
Our award-winning solutions are helping some of the biggest brands to gain compliance across multiple industry sectors such as retail, telco, banking and public sector. We transacted over ½ billion payments last year and stored many 100s millions of call recordings.
What does the future hold for Aeriandi?
Our products help companies to mitigate risks that are prevalent on an international scale. We have plans for expansion into new geographies and new products to help with emerging threats.
How has the contact centre industry changed since you’ve been involved in it?
Contact centres work to relatively small margins with high overheads. As a consequence, they are constantly looking to deploy smarter solutions and gain efficiencies. Setting out,as we did, in a software as a service (SAAS) model, has meant that we have been well-placed to help contact centres realise some of these gains.
What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by the industry today?
Trust is a big area. Consumers need to trust brands, and brands need to trust their suppliers. We see the rise of initiatives such as the CSA Security, Trust & Assurance Registry (STAR) – which provides insight on vendors approach to security – as great tools to help brands make the right decision in vendor selection.
What does the future hold for the industry?
The industry will grow indefinitely. We’re in an arms race, and they never stop. As the world’s pools of data grow, so do the stakes and so do the companies, groups and individuals that endanger and protect these resources.
Which companies do you admire and why?
I tend to look at some of the companies that have grown out of ‘the valley’. I hear a lot about Google (largely from my brother who works there). I think what impresses me most is that there is a lot of extremely serious work on important subjects that happens, but the best companies manage to retain an element of play. Creativeness is something that we’re all born with, and I believe firmly that it’s not the case that you have to do much to foster it; rather, that there are many things you can do to curtail it. I think the valley understands this, and it’s a culture we try to instill within our company also.
If there were one piece of advice you could give to contact centre professionals reading this, what would it be?
Try to think about why compliance standards such as PCI DSS exist. It may seem at times like something to be overcome prior to concentrating on your core business once more, but really it’s about helping you to protect your business from some very real and very serious threats. If there were real monsters lurking outside your doors, you’d no doubt take a slightly different attitude towards the quality of your locks…
What do you do for fun?
“Finding” my two year old son provides endless fun!
When I have time, I love to travel. I also try to reserve some time to compose music and work on other creative projects.