The company implements secure and productive IT solutions for large companies that have a lot of data to be considered sensitive. Something that is growing in importance as big businesses realise not only the value, but also the exposure to risk they face when securing large amounts of sensitive data.
Uniki’s solutions have really upgraded the productivity and security of many companies. In this exclusive Q&A, we spoke with Matthias to discuss the impact of IT on productivity, particularly for big companies, and why other companies who are not yet invested should consider it.
Matthias believes that UNIKI has created a unique and innovative product, and that data security is a must for all businesses in the modern age. He highlights not only the importance of security, but also the impacts and possible repercussions of not imposing a suitable security system to protect large amounts of data.
(UNIKI Founder Matthias Bollwein:)“Not all companies understand the impact of IT on productivity”
Can you give us a brief introduction to UNIKI?
Uniki is a (not-so-new) startup from Germany, located in Munich and founded in 2016. Back then, we identified three key shortcomings of cloud services, that prevented most companies from fully committing to the cloud, namely: data protection and GDPR compliance, working with large files and interoperability with existing software and infrastructure (e.g., industry-specific software or even widely used software like Microsoft Outlook).
We have solved this problem by creating a hybrid cloud solution that works just like any other cloud service but adds the crucial requirements of data sovereignty and fast local access by storing all data on company premises.
The basic features are usually similar when comparing cloud collaboration tools. What makes your solution different from the competition?
Many, if not most companies are still forced to use traditional servers in addition to modern cloud services. That’s because they are working with either large files (e.g., media agencies or engineering offices), software or machinery that is incompatible with cloud services, or sensitive data (e.g., legal or R&D departments).
This increases maintenance costs and severely impacts productivity: Employees are forced to move data between local servers and cloud services, and deal with unreliable VPN connections.
Like a modern cloud service, our solution lets you comfortably access and share files and collaborate from anywhere, with three crucial differences:
- It’s multiple times faster if you’re on company premises.
- Usability does not change at all between working in the office or at home or on the road.
- Data remains in the hands of the customer and is strongly encrypted on site.
At the same time, all the benefits of cloud services, like modern software, maintenance-free operation, scalability and high availability remain in place.
Secondly, our cloud collaboration tool is probably the most complete one out there. Our philosophy is: Every email is also a task, because you probably need to react, every task is also an event in your calendar, because at some point you need to do it, every file is something you might want to chat about and so on. So, we integrate everything and create a seamless workflow, which is something not even Microsoft does (Teams and Exchange are still separate products).
And it doesn’t stop there: If you need cloud CRM, a helpdesk solution, time tracking or a team password manager, you can find all these and many more cloud applications in our App Store. Think of it as an iPhone for the cloud, with centralised user account management and billing that solves the problem of managing a multitude of different cloud providers across your entire organisation.
Companies tend to be very reluctant and sluggish when it comes to changing software providers. Never change a running system seems to be the general attitude. How do you convince companies to change?
Unfortunately, not all companies understand the impact of IT on productivity, but awareness is growing. Every time an employee saves a file, they have to wait minutes for it to upload, or they spend hours uploading their work to a cloud to send it to a client, or they lose hours of work because an unreliable VPN connection causes Word or Photoshop to crash. I don’t think this can or should be called a “running system”.
And then there’s the added cost of maintaining a local server in addition to cloud services. An upside of our solution that every business manager can appreciate.
Once a company switches to our hybrid cloud platform and realizes just how much better the workflow is and that there’s hardly any alternative out there, most of them stay with us “forever”. In that sense, our business is very sustainable.
Changing software solutions can sometimes be confusing. Especially when it comes to software that is so widely used by all employees. How do you set your customers up for success?
There is another big difference between our software and most other cloud collaboration tools: We make sure that our software is compatible with all popular applications, such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, Apple Calendar and so on, as well as iOS devices and Android phones.
If one employee prefers to use modern cloud task boards and others continue using Outlook, it just works seamlessly together. Our customers do not need to decide between one or the other or force their employees to switch.
Cyber security is becoming increasingly important – especially as targeted attacks become more common. How do you ensure that your software is secure and what do you recommend as best practice?
The biggest and most expensive problem right now is Ransomware. It encrypts files and demands a ransom, but in many cases does not decrypt the data even if the ransom is paid.
We made our system completely Ransomware-proof by integrating an “invisible” file history. If a customer is attacked by Ransomware, or an employee deletes a file by accident, they can simply go back in time within minutes, instead of having to rely on backups and losing days or weeks of work while backups are being restored.
To protect our customers’ data, even from us, we have developed a revolutionary two-stage encryption process. It relies on both hardware encryption modules and customers’ passwords but is invisible to the user and keeps data encrypted when connecting from anywhere, creating backups or running high-availability clusters of multiple servers.
We also follow very strict best practices in our development process, don’t use scripting languages and never run software that is exposed to the Internet with elevated privileges on any servers.
However, there is always a human aspect to cybersecurity. The most secure system won’t help if you give away your passwords. With that in mind, my top picks for best practice recommendations would be:
1. Use a password manager instead of keeping your passwords in Excel sheets or your drawer. All our systems come with a built-in business password manager.
2. Limit access as much as possible. An employee in marketing probably doesn’t need your online banking. A good password manager helps with that too, as it allows you to selectively share passwords.
3. Always keep your employees up to date with latest threats.
4. Since malicious emails are becoming increasingly difficult to detect, keeping employees up to date is not enough. Make sure you only use Ransomware-proof systems that offer versioning in addition to traditional backups.
What new solutions are you working on?
We already provide some of the most productive workflows by integrating key collaboration tools, but we’re always looking to make those workflows even more productive for our customers. A logical next step would be workflow automation. We could enable companies to automate their specific business processes between the many applications we already offer on our hybrid cloud platform, such as CRM or time tracking, in addition to cloud collaboration.