‘Marketing can be the oxygen to a company’s growth,’ says Shashi Kiran

Multi-cloud Security & Confidential Computing Solutions for Companies
Shashi Kiran has a growth mind-set and enjoy driving results that make an effect, add value, and give people a good time. Integrity, authenticity, and staying away from politics are important parts of my identity. He has worked in marketing, sales, business development, and product management at both big global companies with global teams and multi-billion dollar sales and multi-stage startups. Read more to know his thoughts on role of marketing in IT industry.

Good content can truly unlock and unleash the potential of a product and the company at large.

Media 7: You have 20+ years of experience in business and technology roles. Walk us through your long and inspiring professional journey.
Shashi Kiran: I’ve been fortunate to do something I’ve enjoyed for most of my professional career. While my choice of career was intentional, the journey from one role to another has largely happened serendipitously, with people I know pulling me in into some companies or roles as the case may be. Having a technology background and a good business sense and a broad variety of roles over the past two decades, has allowed me to connect the dots across a variety of functions quite well. I’m quite good at rolling up sleeves and going in which is particularly helpful in startups and as well as navigating large matrixed organizations to drive teams at scale. Being able to go broad or deep as necessary has helped me dissect situations rapidly and drive quick action.

M7: How difficult has it been to balance competing priorities in your role, such as meeting sales targets, launching a new product, or developing strategies for your business?
SK:
I don’t view these as competing priorities. Eventually everything should be aligned towards the growth of the business and in service of customers. Understanding the right dependencies across functions are important when driving rapid execution at scale. Wrong turns mean lost time or missed opportunities. Taking an unbiased view and leaving your ego out the door can be helpful, but it takes discipline.

M7: Can you discuss the key areas of focus for Fortanix currently?
SK:
  Yes, Fortanix has been a rapidly growing company in the data security arena. The company is a pioneer in the confidential computing technology area, and that serves as a huge differentiator. This has allowed it to address a variety of use cases ranging from key management services and tokenization, to secrets management and code signing to name a few.  In today’s environment when data breaches and ransomware have become the norm it is a big deal for companies to have an elegant solution that allows them to simplistically deal with securing data in a manner that allows regulatory compliance as well. While Fortanix has on-premises appliance solutions, the focus is mostly on the growth of our SaaS offering.

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The sheer volume of data and in particular the growth of regulated data has brought in the need to build our automation as well as Artificial Intelligence based constructs that can model at scale.

M7: Apart from its data security technology, Fortanix is considered a pioneer in confidential computing. How did Fortanix develop itself as a game-changer in this field?
SK:
That’s right. It is amazing how quickly the concept has picked up with a broad industry ecosystem building up around it including cloud service providers, multiple chip vendors and ISVs. Kudos in large part to the founders for their vision.  Our CEO Anand Kashyap deserves credit for crafting the vision and building out a unified data security platform that delivers compelling value to customers across segments and verticals. We have some great engineers on board.

M7: With your extensive experience spanning over two decades in business and technology, could you provide your perspective on the significance of Artificial Intelligence and data management?
SK:
While there appears to be a rapid progress with AI-based approaches, I feel it is early days yet and we’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg. The sheer volume of data and in particular the growth of regulated data has brought in the need to build our automation as well as Artificial Intelligence based constructs that can operate at scale. We are seeing generative AI become a hot topic of discussion and this will be leveraged by both sides of the fence. In the case of encrypted data, AI can be even more useful when we combine it with confidential computing principles. For example, Fortanix has brought out confidential AI solutions that are starting to have mainstream applicability with initial forays into Healthcare. We recently previewed a capability called Confidential Data Search at RSA and HIMSS.

M7: How does Fortanix cater to the diverse needs of its customers, like organizations of all sizes, including some of the biggest global brands and Fortune 50 companies.
SK:
Focus is important. On one hand the concept of a unified data security platform means that the architecture is built to handle diversity and address a variety of use-cases. It has tremendous extensibility. Customers like this approach as it allows them to extend the power of the platform to solve several challenges without needed to revaluate multiple vendors or train their staff or go through operational logistics. The convergence is especially beneficial to drive down costs. Besides, in the case of SaaS, it allows a “scale as you need” model that delivers tremendous flexibility for an organization to grow the solution commensurate with its business growth. Consequently, we see a lot of land and expand deals with our customers. It also reflects in higher retention which is reflected in our low churn as well as high Net Promoter Score of 71.
At the same time, we’re packaging the solution somewhat differently to meet the needs of different customer segments. In this spirit, we’ve also launched a free offering called DSM explorer, that supports popular use-cases entirely for free with the bonus of having support from Fortanix. These efforts will continue. All these offerings are available via our website.

M7: You have partners like Microsoft, AWS, Google, and many more. As the CMO of Fortanix, how do you develop strong strategic partnerships with such well-known firms?
SK:
We have been fortunate to have all the major CSPs as well as several chip vendors partner with us and commit to working closely with us. Partnerships work best when there is bi-directional value and a commitment to work together for the benefit of our mutual customers. In this context, we’ve had great synergy with our solutions and believe these will continue. In addition to the CSPs and chip vendors, we are also partnering actively with other ISVs.

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Taking an unbiased view and leaving your ego out the door can be helpful, but it takes discipline.

M7: Please shed some light on how does content play a significant part in the marketing of products and services for companies in the IT industry?
SK:
Content is the fuel for driving marketing growth. I’ve seen great products be stifled by poor content, messaging or positioning. Great content can truly unlock and unleash the potential of a product and the company at large. Marketers need to not just build great content that is consumable, but also make it easily accessible. The effort in this direction has to be constant. We’ve won some great customer logos based on searchable content that warmed up the opportunity before the sales process even began!

M7: Please provide an outline of the different network security software’s offered by Fortanix and how they benefit various sectors.
SK:
Our flagship offering is called the Data Security Manager. As I mentioned, this adopts a Unified Data Security platform approach and is powered by confidential computing which serves as the underpinning to all that we do. The platform offers deployment flexibility with on-premises Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) or delivers HSM-as-a-service. Several security services run as part of a SaaS offering including Key Management, Tokenization, Secrets Management, Code signing, etc. to name a few. We also help secure Web3 and blockchain infrastructure for DeFi and emerging use-cases. Our teams are also working on Post Quantum Cryptographic initiatives (PQC), though these are early days yet. In addition to this highly versatile platform, we also have launched a new product called DSM Explorer that is completely free and supported by Fortanix with no credit card requirements. These are for small to medium enterprise or functional workgroups in larger organizations.
Both these can be tried via a 30-day free trial in the case of DSM Enterprise, or it can be deployed in a few minutes directly with the DSM Explorer.

M7:  As someone with significant experience in the marketing industry, what advice would you offer to individuals pursuing a career in this field
SK:
I say go for it. Marketing is a multi-varied function and has a number of sub disciplines that make the job both hard as well as incredibly interesting at times. You can specialize and go deep in a few areas, or you could focus on connecting the dots. That said, my advice is to self-introspect and understand one’s strengths and passion and to choose a career that allows them to play to their strengths. Marketing can be like oxygen to the company. You don’t normally think about it when everything’s going well, but cut off oxygen supply and the rest of the body withers quickly.  Marketing takes a lot of work and I’ve seen finger pointing in organizations where the function is misunderstood. All this comes with the territory. So, develop a thick skin, don’t take things personally, be confident and enjoy the ride!

ABOUT FORTANIX

Fortanix is a leader in Confidential Computing and a multi-cloud security company that puts data first. Today, data is stored in clouds, SaaS, applications, storage systems, data centers, and other places. Fortanix separates security from infrastructure so that it can protect private data no matter where it is or what it is doing, whether it is at rest, in transit, or being used. Some of the biggest global brands and Fortune 50 companies are among the customers of Fortanix, which works with companies of all kinds and in many different industries. Fortanix is a founding member of the Confidential Computing Consortium and has strong strategic partnerships with companies like Intel, Microsoft, AWS, Google, Snowflake, and ServiceNow. Fortanix has won a lot of awards and praise from the business world, including the Gartner Cool Vendor award. To know more please visit https://www.fortanix.com/platform/data-security-manager

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Fortanix

Fortanix Self-Defending Key Management Service (SDKMS) is the world’s first cloud service secured with Intel® SGX. With SDKMS, you can securely generate, store, and use cryptographic keys and certificates, as well as secrets, such as passwords, API keys, tokens, or any blob of data. Your business-cr...

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