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ISJ Exclusive: Staying ahead of the curve with Dataminr


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Tim Willis, Director of Corporate Risk, EMEA at Dataminr speaks to ISJ about how the firm helps clients react to a crisis.

How does Dataminr help a client’s crisis management strategy?

Ultimately, what Dataminr does is provide crucial information to organisations that are either managing a crisis or, if you get the right information at the right time, you can potentially avert that crisis. We do that by allowing our clients to look at real-time information that is relevant to them in their specific areas of interest. For example, one of the challenges that a multinational company may face is getting access to accurate, timely information across its operational footprint.

When a company is reacting to a crisis, information needs to translate into actions. Dataminr helps our clients get the right information at the right time, which allows them to make better informed decisions as they respond to a crisis.

What makes Dataminr different from its competitors?

Dataminr is different in a number of ways. We were the first to be providing this type of service by using social media, followed by other data sets. We have been going for ten years as a company, which may not sound that long compared to some of our clients, but when you look at the ecosystem of information that we are harnessing, it really does put us at the forefront of the industry.

Also, we have a very strong relationship with Twitter, dating back to the genesis of Dataminr. This gives us unparalleled access to publicly available information coming through from that source. When you add this partnership with our ability to include other sources across social media, blogs, information sensors and dark web the sheer volume of information we process also differentiates us from our competitors.

Why should a prospective client decide to work with Dataminr?

Every client, every organisation out there needs information to make decisions. They need information about what is happening in their operating environments, they need information about what is happening in the regulatory environment in which they work, they need to understand what other people in their space and their industry are doing, and they need to understand dynamic fast-moving events that might be threatening their businesses.

Dataminr allows these organisations to access all the relevant, real-time information they require to be more effective and competitive, and more agile and resilient as businesses.

Tim Willis, Director of Corporate Risk EMEA, Dataminr

You presented a conference session at ASIS Europe on the use of social media for early awareness of security threats. Could you expand on what you discussed there please?

One of the key areas within that presentation was balancing the executive alignment of any security structure with the resources they have available and the risk profile of the company. Any security team has to be able to get that balance right but the risk profile can be influenced by a number of factors including the influence of the company, its scope, its visibility and what people are saying about the company.

Stories can generate and develop much more quickly in the age of social media. Security teams can now not only find out what is happening, but see pictures and videos from the scene that will help them to add colour and context to the situation.

The other topic we discussed was the way in which organisations are evolving. Traditionally, each department would be completely separate and rarely communicate with one another. Now we are seeing that providing more information to these organisations about any potential threats will help departments from security to communications to cyber and IT to better collaborate.

Are there any high-profile recent examples of Dataminr being used to alert clients of a security threat?

The tragic attacks over the Easter weekend in Sri Lanka are a very recent example. We were well ahead of the traditional sources of information in alerting our clients as to what was going on. We were about 25 minutes ahead of major news organisations in terms of the first alerts coming through. Security teams sat in headquarters across the world are trying to make sense of what is happening and having that sort of lead time is absolutely crucial when it comes to accounting for your staff and assessing what the impact is going to be for your business.

Do you see the role of the CSO and the security teams expanding to take on more than they have done in the past and overlapping with other areas of the business?

I think as things have become a bit more fluid and the threats facing a business are evolving, we are seeing CSOs and the security team taking on more of a business support role. This is one of the key elements that security teams need to manage anyway, the perennial challenge in the security domain is ensuring that you have a seat at the table and that your voice is heard, and the best way to do that is to be adding value to the business.

CSO’s and their teams are definitely getting more involved in other parts of the business that they can add value to. They may be getting information that the communications team find useful or they could be engaging with the cyber team to assess threats to the business. This all links in to their core function which is, of course, securing the business.

What does the road map look like for Dataminr over the next three years?

As open source information continues to evolve, we will stay at the forefront of it, ensuring that we continue to deliver meaningful information to our clients from publicly available information sources. We will also look to improve our machine learning and algorithms so that our clients are getting the most relevant content coming through as quickly as possible.

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