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Customer Success: Lessons Learned in 2020

  • By Henry Trevelyan Thomas
  • 16 December 2020

Tessian’s mission is to secure the human layer by empowering people to do their best work, without security getting in their way.

What a year! As 2020 draws to a close, we wanted to take some time to reflect on some awesome wins and what we’ve learned through a tumultuous year. I’ll try my best to not mention “Zoom fatigue”, “the new normal” or “unprecedented”. 

Here goes nothing.

2020 in numbers

  • 👨‍👨‍👧‍👧 We spent more time with our customers than ever before with >1000 customer review meetings taking place
  • 💻 We onboarded our 200,000th employee on to the Tessian platform 
  • ❌ We detected or prevented 450,000 misdirected emails and advanced spear phishing attacks, and over 2,000,000 data exfiltration attempts for our customers 
  • 🌍 We started working with some incredible new customers across the world – Cordaan, GoCardless, and Schroders PW to name just a few
  • 📣 35 customers took to the stage at various Tessian events to speak about their approach to Human Layer Security and security culture
“When times got tough, our goal 'to stop breaches, not business' became more important than ever. ”

Agility is key

The security challenges the pandemic created for our customers were far greater than navigating the overnight transition to remote working. Email sending was up 129%, attackers pivoted quickly to COVID-related attacks, and employee uncertainty led to unconventional (and non-compliant) sending behaviors. We all had to pivot quickly. At Tessian, our CSMs ran consultative health checks with all customers, our Product and Data Science teams updated our end-user warnings to raise employees’ awareness of COVID-related attacks, and our Marketing team launched our remote-working content hub filled with blogs, guides and reports for customers to consult and share with employees. A true embodiment of craft at speed.

Security came to the forefront

2020 was another year of security grabbing the attention of boardrooms, investors and mainstream media outlets. Specifically, the trend of having empathy for employees accelerated. This has led to the rise of technologies that work in the background – making employees’ lives easier and unburdening them from the expectation that they must also be security experts. As Tim Fitzgerald (CISO @ Arm) and I reflected on, everyone has gone through so much this year (personally and professionally), that security teams need to lead with an approach that helps empower rather than restrict their employees.

What’s more, it was the year that Human Layer Security became widely recognized as the obvious and necessary direction enterprise security is headed, with Tessian being recognized by both Gartner and Forrester for the work we’ve been doing with our customers. 

In short, when times got tough, our goal “to stop breaches, not business” became more important than ever. 

Visibility of risk takes a whole new meaning in a remote world

As we’ve touched on before, security teams have gone from managing a handful of offices around the world to thousands of home offices around the world. In this decentralized working model, visibility is more important than ever before. We identified that early and worked incredibly hard to bring our customers more visibility into their human layer security risks.

From our customer conversations it became apparent that security teams were more stressed and stretched than ever. Rather than throwing more data at them, we needed to focus on surfacing the most relevant trends and actionable insights so that security teams could be more effective and efficient in reducing risk. And that led to our launch of our Human Layer Security Intelligence platform

The best CISOs are culture champions

The role of a CISO continues to evolve. No longer is it enough to implement top-down technology and hope for the best. The most forward-thinking security teams are building positive security cultures by appointing security ambassadors and asking management to drive awareness in their teams. More on that with my conversation with Kevin Storli (Partner @ PwC) here and from Mark Logsdon (Head of Cyber Assurance and Oversight @ Prudential) here.

Your suppliers’ risk is your risk

As Kevin and I also discussed, it’s no longer enough to inwardly think about your risk. You need to engage with your supplier ecosystem to ensure you’re on the same page. We’ve all seen the headlines about a recent high-profile supply-chain attack, and it’s likely that we’ll see more of these in the future. Security is a team sport and we need to all be vested in the security of others. 

“People will remember who will show up this year, so ensure you’re remembered for the right reasons.”
Tim Fitzgerald CISO at Arm

Putting the “human” in Human Layer Security

Finally, being human-first is one of the core values we live by at Tessian, I’m proud of how my team carried this with them day-to-day. 

Before every interaction we asked ourselves two key questions: 1) Are we being genuinely helpful? and 2) Are we being deeply empathetic to our customers’ circumstances? 

It’s about recognizing that each new customer win for us has been underpinned by forward-thinking security folks who are fighting to protect their employees against yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s risks. Each Quarterly Business Review is a story of helping those people who invested in Tessian do a great job and get the recognition they deserve. Each internal meeting is about understanding how we can support each other to succeed together. As a result, our relationships are stronger, and more people are protected by Tessian. 

(Shout-out to Nick Mehta, CEO @ Gainsight, for his words of wisdom at our Q2 Town Hall and to Howard Schultz, former CEO at Starbucks,  at our Human Layer Security Summit – two leaders who are truly human-first and always lead by example.)

Goodbye 2020, hello 2021 👋

From being hit by a pandemic to developing a more human-first approach to our customer relationships, it’s been a different kind of year. We’ve formed some amazing partnerships and been pushed in all the right ways by our customers. It’s important to reflect on how much we accomplished and learned, and of course, to say thank you to those who helped us along the way.

Now, onward to 2021.

Henry Trevelyan Thomas