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After receiving an accolade like the IAPP’s Innovation Award, perhaps some winners would use the opportunity to sit on their laurels a year after the fact, feeling accomplishment and ready for a break. For TeleSign and VMware Airwatch, two of the 2015 Innovation Award recipients, their year has been anything but leisurely.

In fact, when catching up with TeleSign CPO Stephen Bolinger, CIPM, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, who in 2015 accepted the Innovation Award in the small organization category on behalf of the company, he simply summed up 2016 as “busy.” While the interview was over email, one could hear the sigh. 2015 was about laying groundwork, he said. “For 2016, we’re building on top of this foundation with more formalized and in-depth privacy work with an eye toward the new requirements of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation,” he continued. The startup's work guarding more than 4 billion end-user global accounts is “a daunting task, and privacy and security are continual processes rather than destinations. But by putting in place the strong privacy network we established in 2015, we have been able to expand our vision and provide even stronger security and authentications services to our customers and their users.”

Then there’s TeleSign’s Turn It On campaign. “We are continuing to update the project with more two-factor authentication tutorials all the time, and are currently covering over 170 websites,” he said. Telesign also united with the National Cyber Security Alliance in an effort to foster privacy and security principles in netizens across the globe.

Winning the Innovation Award hasn’t exactly slowed things down, either. More global eyes were placed firmly on the company, he said, and “the recognition has helped us maintain our internal momentum as we continue to expand our privacy initiatives, and brought even greater attention to the value of privacy to many of our customers.”

For VMware Airwatch’s Blake Brannon, receiving the award in the privacy technology category was an opportunity to adjust some misconceptions.

“The IT industry, specifically security and management industry, has gotten a very bad reputation that "to ensure security we have to violate privacy,’” which is untrue in many cases, including ours," Brannon said. “Like most technology solutions, having a third party recognize or acknowledge innovation carries a lot of weight in the market. Since being awarded, we’ve seen tremendous increase in adoption and use of our technology by companies who previously felt they couldn’t use BYOD because of privacy violations.”

In fact, since 2015, VMware AirWatch become “the world’s largest EMM provider based on 2015 revenues and market share,” Brannon said. With the increased business, there’s been further development of infrastructure and other existing offerings, too. Consider the organization’s Privacy First program, the initiative that, in part, helped the company win the Innovation Award. VMWare Airwatch has now applied the program across all aspects of product, Brannon said.

2016 will be punctuated by surprises and new releases, Brannon added. But he emphasized that regardless of what the company did, it was the prevailing attitude of enterprise and creativity that would continue to spur VMware Airwatch on. "Everyone always thinks that innovation only happens with massive leaps forward in new technologies or bold grand ideas,” he said. “Most innovation in the world is an iteration of an existing idea and even the things you invented last year need to be reinvented.”

It’s these forward thinking attitudes and big developments on the horizon for both TeleSign and VMware Airwatch that make the passing of the Innovation Award baton less bitter and more sweet.

With nominations open in both the small and large business and privacy tech categories until June 24, these august privacy pros had some words of wisdom to those looking to nominate a peer.

If anything, they explained, even if you lose, you win.

“Last year’s award demonstrated to employees and management a return on TeleSign’s investment in privacy,” Bolinger said.

It’s a sentiment that Brannon echoed. “Now, everyone from sales, marketing, HR to engineering is thinking about privacy, and how we can protect the end user’s privacy and the companies that use our software,” he said. 


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