T. KENDALL “KEN” HUNT — Ken is Founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of VASCO Data Security International, Inc. (Nasdaq: vdsi). www.vasco.com VASCO is a multinational corporation, doing business in over 120 countries, which develops and sells strong authentication products used to authenticate users or protect them while doing online transactions. These products are offered “on-premises” at our customers’ locations, or as a service, “in the cloud.” VASCO’s most significant market is banking and finance with over 1,700 of the world’s leading financial institutions as customers. Total customer count exceeds 10,000. VASCO has shipped over 100 million DIGIPASS security credentials since its inception.
He serves, or has served, on several Advisory Boards at prestigious universities, including the University of Miami Board of Trustees, the President’s Council, the Board of Overseers for Miami’s School of Business, and the MMM Dual Graduate Degree Program for Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. He was recently named by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to the newly-formed Illinois Innovation Council.
He earned a BBA from the University of Miami, Florida, and an MBA from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, where he was recently honored with the school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Ken and his wife currently reside in Zurich, Switzerland, but maintain their primary residence in Oak Park, Illinois.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you pass onto a company that is contemplating integrating mobile banking into their marketing strategy?
Ken: Be aware that mobile platforms can be hacked! Mobile banking is an obvious step banking institutions are taking. With the current always-on mentality, banks cannot lag behind. Immediate transfers, on the spot accounts consulting, etc.; it is almost unthinkable that we previously lived without these services.
However, both banks and consumers should be aware that mobile platforms and mobile applications can be hacked if no appropriate measures are taken. Both parties are responsible for taking these measures, but I am convinced that banks are playing a key role here. They have the end responsibility for the users’ and the companies’ data.
Our DIGIPASS for APPS solution adds security to the mobile banking apps to ensure a safe login and secure transactions. This solution offers a cross-platform programming environment to secure mobile applications at every level.
My advice would be; take appropriate measures to protect the users’ and their companies’ data.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the most commonly overlooked aspects of cyber security that you see your clients facing?
Ken: I think too many organizations have an “it’s good enough” attitude about security. But unfortunately it is seldom “good enough”. Organizations should invest in security up-front, potentially saving millions of dollars repairing their hacked systems, their reputations and their brand. With cyber criminals investing big money in being ahead of security measures, governments and companies face the enormous challenge to keep head.
BusinessInterviews.com: Have you had any mentors during the course of your career?
Ken: I had two mentors when I was a young executive.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about how in 2002 VASCO was on the verge on bankruptcy and since the first quarter of 2003 you have managed to deliver 43 straight quarters of positive results? How did you take a company that was barely surviving to a place where it has been growing and thriving year after year?
Ken: I come from an athletic background, and played American football at a Division 1 university in the United States. My experience on the field, and in business, is that no one person can be successful, but a team can. In the first quarter of 2003, I got my VASCO team together and we all agreed that we would not fail. Everyone was assigned a job to do, and we did it.
We decided to turn the company around and put it on a path to profitability and positive cash flow. We reduced all unnecessary costs, eliminated unproductive staff, and controlled costs going forward. Most of us wore multiple hats, that is did multiple jobs. Even today, I do not have a personal assistant.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Ken: We believe there’s a real opportunity for cloud-based authentication. Historically, we have delivered our products on-premises. We license our server platforms to our customers and sell them hardware and software authenticators called DIGIPASS. Our customers then deploy the DIGIPASS to their customers, employees and other users, and manage their authentication to online Internet applications.
We also offer a cloud-based alternative to this historic approach. This is called DIGIPASS as a Service for Application Service Providers for their B-2-B and B-2-C customers, and MYDIGIPASS.COM for individual consumers. We believe our cloud-based authentication service has the potential for rapid and very profitable growth.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on why you believe that your cloud based authentication service has the potential for rapid and very profitable growth?
Ken: In 2012, Gartner published its forecast for growth in cloud-based Security Services by Segment. VASCO occupies the Identity and Access Management Segment which is forecast to grow 41% compounded from 2010. We believe this is a positive harbinger for VASCO’s cloud-based service.
Above that, we believe it’s a matter of timing. We are ready and are there when the opportunity arrives.
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