AI Tech Park Interview with Karthik Krishnan, CEO, Concentric

Karthik Krishnan talks about data protection and the importance of NLP. He focuses on the importance of database security for shaping business outcomes.

1. Tell us about yourself and your role at Concentric AI?

I am the Founder and CEO of Concentric AI, a company I founded with Shankar Subramaniam and Madhu Shashanka. I’ve been a part of the security industry for years, at HPE, Niara, PGP and Juniper Networks. I met with lots of customers and every one of them – and I do mean every one – was struggling to secure their mission critical data. They were trying to use data loss prevention (DLP) or Data Access Governance, but the state of the art there was pretty miserable. Data is the most vulnerable threat surface for most enterprises and the tools to help protect data were woefully lacking. We decided to work on changing that.

In a startup, the product is the company, so innovation takes up nearly all my time. Of course, now that we have a product in the market, I’m spending more time on the Sales and Marketing side, but even then I’m taking what I learn from the field and using it to innovate the product.

2. Can you venture your journey into the market for our Audience?

Around the problem of securing sensitive data, I’d been keeping tabs on the AI space. At one point I realized that natural language processing had become accurate and granular enough to replace the rules and policies people were using to discover and categorize their data. So our co-founders, Madhu Shashanka and Shankar Subramaniam, and I put the solution together. I guess we are an old-school startup – we’re innovating to build a better mousetrap that solves problems we deeply understand.

3. What is one unique benefit that Concentric AI provides to its customers?

Concentric helps enterprises protect the data they most care about – from business confidential data to personally identifiable data to financial data to intellectual property – without having to do a lot of heavy lifting upfront. We make autonomous data-centric monitoring and protection a reality.

4. How do you eye database security for business in the coming years?

As an industry, we’ve gotten pretty good at securing websites and databases. It’s our aim at Concentric AI to make unstructured data security just as manageable and effective. We have a report, by the way, with some hard data on just how extensive the issue is and the risk to data loss that the issue poses.

We focus on data access governance for structured and unstructured data, which includes all the documents, presentations, contracts, reports, PII/PCI and other business-critical information that, at least right now, is only as secure as content owners choose to make it. For example, we know our current work-from-home environment has led to an explosion of link-sharing – even for very sensitive information. Users create those links, and they’re often unrestricted and last forever. That’s handy for users but not a great practice for data security. It can lead to expensive fines, reputational damage, privacy violations, and all the other consequences of data loss.

5. How, according to you, is technology bringing change in the AI Sector?

AI in our view is not a sector. It is a powerful technology that when properly applied can bring transformative capabilities to various sectors.
We believe that Deep Learning as a form of AI will have a transformative impact to complex problems such as natural language processing, image classification and speech recognition. At Concentric AI, we use Deep Learning to help with NLP and automate the process of contextually understanding data without involving humans.

6. What is your perspective about the evolution of in the AI sector?  

We’re committed to pioneering AI-powered solutions that can discover and protect mission critical data so security pros can deliver comprehensive least-privileges access controls on their most sensitive data. This is a transformative approach to data security – it eliminates rules, guesswork and overhead while dramatically reducing risk and improving coverage.

7. How do you think has contributed to the revolutionizing of the AI sector? 

We’re big believers in the least-privileges model for data access governance. The goal is to restrict access to only the people with a need. We enable enterprises to:

  1. Automate – Automate the process of finding all their mission critical data without rule writing or upfront work
  2. Risk Detection – Autonomously find risk to their sensitive data, such as inappropriate access, wrong location, risky third party sharing, etc. Enable least privileges access with actionable risk insights
  3. Remediate – Fix issues, reduce risk and prevent data loss
  4. Which is the Movie that inspires you the most?

Vertigo or any Alfred Hitchcock movie for just how creative he was in bringing complex scenes to life in such a vivid manner despite the lack of advanced technology for film picturization or sound effects capture. A lesson I hold dear in how creative solutions can overcome limitations and make the complex easy.  

8. Would you like to share your all-time favorite Motivational Quote with us?

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That’s a Harry S. Truman quote, by the way. We’ve thought about company culture quite a bit – you can read more here.

Karthik Krishnan

Founder & CEO, Concentric

Karthik Krishnan is Founder/ CEO, Concentric. Prior to Concentric, he was VP, Security Products at Aruba/HPE where he managed their security portfolio. He was VP, Products at Niara, a security analytics company focused on user and entity behavior analytics. Niara was acquired by Aruba/HPE. He has more than 20 years of experience in engineering and marketing at various hardware, software and systems such as Intel, Microsoft, Juniper Networks, PGP Corporation, Symantec and Embrane. He has a Bachelors in engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India and an MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management, where he was an F.C. Austin Scholar.

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