Every single day new content, products, and assets are added to the internet, infusing the digital space with evermore value. From the owner’s perspective, that value needs to be protected. This week on Product Talk, we welcome the CEO of Bit Discovery, a Mighty Capital portfolio company, to share his insights on the thought process behind innovation, computer security, and how product leaders can design secure products.
Each week we release a new podcast episode diving into the most relevant topics in product management with some of the biggest names in the field. Subscribe at the links below so you don’t miss a single episode. Now, let’s roll through the highlights.
On finding competitive advantage with computer security
As the internet continues to expand and magnify both in size and location, it can be difficult for a company to attain an accurate scope of everything they own in the digital space. Jeremiah Grossman, one of the biggest names in computer security, found a way to do it for them. He sets up this week’s episode by saying;
“Customers were saying ‘we want you to scan everything for vulnerabilities’, because that was our business. And we’re like, great, tell us what everything is, and they said, ‘We have no idea. Can you help us with that?’”
This is where Bit Discovery found its competitive advantage with attack surface management. By creating a capability that essentially “copies the internet”, it allows for the processing of billions of digital assets every day to the tune of several 100 terabytes a month. This massive amount of data can be applied to any number of use cases. For Bit Discovery, the sweet spot was computer security.
“For the sake of argument, let’s say you could find the inventory of whatever a company owns online, be it websites, mail servers, DNS servers, etc. The potential use cases for that data set for an enterprise company are pretty large. You’ll be able to use it for sales enablement, for financial transactions, or for security.
“You can’t secure what you don’t know you own. This is where focus comes in – we could go after an enormous number of use cases, including cyber insurance. Meaning, how do you write a cyber insurance policy when the customer doesn’t know what they own?
“Given that all of us on the team come from a security background, that was our fastest path to market. The focus and the true value prop we narrowed in on was to build attack surface management, for the companies that we used to work with, specifically in application security.”
On innovation as a skill
Creating a great product that’s secure takes an immense amount of discovery, which requires talking to an immense amount of customers. However, true innovation doesn’t arrive in a field of a questionnaire. That’s where creativity and vision take the lead.
“I want to know the problems. I won’t necessarily ask customers for the solutions, because this is where you get into the whole Henry Ford thing, so I just want to know the problems. I can innovate fine on my own, I just want to know what the problem is, and if I find if I start hearing the same problem out of the same types of people in a lot of different places, that might be a big enough, important problem to solve.”
“You can ask customers for ideas on how to iterate, but you can’t really ask customers for ideas and how to innovate. The big leaps forward are going to take truly creative product managers with vision.”
On what makes a great product manager
At times it can be tempting to write off game-changing products as strokes of luck. At the core of every great product, however, are great product managers.
“A product manager has to talk to people all the time and ingest a massive amount of information that they can either use to generate their own ideas or to teach other people what’s out there to elicit their ideas. Either way, it’s the collection of knowledge.”
“You have to not only serve the customer but also the long-term needs of the business. It’s that age-old tradeoff between the salesperson and the engineer, so you want to be able to make those features that are so insanely valuable that they bridge that gap.”
About the host
Seasoned executive with three decades of experience envisioning, building, and operating software products and mission-critical platforms at startups to large organizations such as Microsoft. Throughout his career, James has held a diverse set of roles and developed expertise across leadership, product management, data science, IT operations, consulting, software engineering, and sales. As Chief Product Officer at Products That Count, he leads an online platform to help organizations learn the craft of product management and win as a market leader. As a coach, he leads mastermind circles to facilitate peer-to-peer learning across product management executives. As a podcast host, he interviews CEOs of companies held within Mighty Capital’s portfolio. Creator of the Career Strategy Framework and an online platform that teaches and coaches professionals how to reach their full career potential. Learn more at https://www.jamesgray.io.