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HelpSystems’ Steph Charbonneau Discusses Data Security, Corporate Culture, and More

Automating vital IT processes to protect people and organizations from potentially harmful mistakes was just one topic covered during a recent conversation between Steph Charbonneau, Senior Director of Product Strategy and Data Security at HelpSystems, and Joel Beasley, host of the ModernCTO podcast. Other highlights covered: why investing in company culture pays off, and the advantages of keeping organizational hierarchies as flat as possible. You can listen to the episode below or read through our quick recap.

Protecting Your People from Making Costly Errors

HelpSystems acquired Titus’ data classification software a year ago to help round out its data security portfolio. This means HelpSystems can now offer customers the critical ability to apply classification and encryption to sensitive data before the data is ever shared – to help protect people from their own errors.

“People make mistakes,” said Charbonneau, a co-founder at Titus. “We want to be that security buddy on your shoulder as you’re working, helping you and watching what you are doing to stop you from doing the wrong thing as you work through daily tasks.” The ROI in stopping just one executive’s email from going to the wrong place, he noted, is substantial.

Charbonneau shared that the data security team at HelpSystems wants to help users more easily work with protective safeguards. He shared an analogy of how the data classification software works like today’s spell checking. Instead of the old process of initiating the process, then tediously and manually fixing the grammar step by step, now it just happens in the background with classification tags applied to data to automatically stop inadvertent and inappropriate sharing.

“You need to know what the data is. Once you know what the data is, you can start minding the gap for the sensitive, private personal data regulatory bodies worry about, and how to trigger those things to help users along,” said Charbonneau.

You Don’t Have to Solve Everything; Sometimes Simple is Better

While software developers often want to solve everything for customers, “sometimes simple is better,” said Charbonneau. “The data security journey can be as simple as a customer wanting a little label applied to data to get started on the journey. We’ll build on that,” he noted.

Data classification helps identify, classify, and automatically apply security solutions to ensure regulatory compliance and control over data – serving as a foundation of a robust data security strategy. Charbonneau also talked about the importance of doing what is needed to help customers solve today’s problem with an eye on the future, such as scaling up and addressing the different needs of enterprise-scale customers.

Culture Matters

According to Charbonneau, software company acquisitions at HelpSystems are more than a simple code grab. “They want to solve data security issues by bringing good technology together to solve problems and getting them to play well together,” he said. “As IT leaders, it’s important to remember, ‘I don’t have to solve everything.’ It’s important to give everyone an opportunity to have a voice and not overpower them. We want to give that junior engineer more power and leverage and a good work experience and do so by keeping the hierarchy as flat as possible and check power levels at the door.”

Charbonneau also touched on the importance of integration of corporate culture with the recent acquisition by HelpSystems. “They are very people-oriented, and that was important to us,” he noted. “We put a lot of focus on culture training to help people better themselves and as founders we needed to understand when to pull back and hire the right people to keep creativity in mind.” He noted that this culture has continued with HelpSystems as everyone works to put customers first always as they mesh as a larger organization.

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Gartner has identified Titus as a sample vendor in
10 Gartner Hype Cycles
Gartner has identified Titus as a sample vendor in
10 Gartner Hype Cycles


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