Reflecting on 2021 and Planning for What’s Next
When I drafted my 2020 reflections post I was working from my home office thinking to myself that 2021 would have to be an entirely different year. Certainly, things could only get better, right? Well, we all know that wasn’t entirely true. Though, I did move out of my son’s bedroom as my home office and into a room of my own!
2021 was yet another year of resilience and finding ways to move forward. As a company, we did find many of those simple moments to keep moving but we also have a bigger and even more important journey in front of us as we continue to grow.
I wanted to share some milestones we achieved throughout the year, and where I see things going in 2022 — because I’ll be able to plan it perfectly, right?
Coming back together…in-person
A major highlight of this year had to be meeting so many colleagues, or Onticians as we formally call ourselves, in real life. Navigating how to greet each other again, how to conduct proper water cooler talk (weather is always a safe, conversation ending topic), was a challenge we all had to face. We were able to open our offices on July 1st in a new building that is 9X the size of the previous one. It offers plenty of space to spread out – both inside and out – for those that are comfortable and in the vicinity of the Austin headquarters.
Shortly after the office opening came the roller coaster of health and safety protocols with the Delta variant, causing our team to regularly monitor and cater office protocols appropriately. We shifted our involvement in early fall events and speaking engagements, and more importantly, were able to assist our clients in managing the backlash that comes with the new “normal.” Fred Burton, our Executive Director for the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence, shared four issues every CEO needs to plan for when it comes to office reopenings, as no one has navigated this territory before.
In order to appropriately support our clients, Ontic focused on hiring and added headcount across all teams with an overall 70% increase across both U.S. and India teams. Keith Pickering, Sales Development Representative, shared, “Ontic is growing rapidly, but the team has the right mindset: add to the culture, not simply find people who fit in. I’m excited to see an already strong team evolve into a diverse and unique culture that not only meets our mission but also makes for a great place to work.”
At Ontic it’s essential that people feel compelled to work behind our mission of making businesses safer by serving intelligence to those who protect, but we also enjoy being around each other and talking about non-work-related things too. We gathered as a company to launch the new fiscal year in ‘Camp Ontic’ theme – albeit virtual with no actual campfires, but plenty of vending machine quality trail mix. We also gathered in person to celebrate our office opening in July and Oktoberfest in….October, you guessed it.
Lastly, many of us were able to give back as a company through volunteer opportunities at the Austin Diaper Bank and Texas Central Food Bank.
Reasons to celebrate
The work we are doing at Ontic was recognized more broadly this year as our company has matured. Most notably by Frost & Sullivan who named Ontic as Top Innovator in Global Digital Intelligence Solutions within their Frost Radar report. We also received recognition from APPEALIE (SaaS Award for Security), Best in Biz (Gold Category), Inc. Magazine (Best Workplaces 2021), and a great nod of confidence from our $40 million funding round from JMI Equity.
Let’s be honest — we would never receive these awards or funding if it wasn’t for our clients, who are the greatest source of truth when it comes to the effectiveness of the Ontic Platform. Their stories are our greatest source of fulfillment in our day-to-day work. Many have gotten more comfortable with the Platform and used its research and investigative capabilities to track threats throughout the year that surface stories such as helping a Fortune 100 CPG company increase reporting efficiency by 7X or notify an employee (victim) of a threat actor who was released from jail within four hours. It’s been great to see the number of employees we protect – now globally – rise by 36% compared to last year.
Where do we go from here?
We are lucky at Ontic because we have so much opportunity to make things easier, and more predictable for the extremely high-stakes role that corporate security teams have each day. The more we learn, the more we realize what we can build and the different industries and personas that benefit from our platform.
This past year we were energized by all the changes and therefore we ended up doing a lot across all of our teams. As I reflect, I recognize that it was probably too much at times. I see the opportunity to be more methodical in the information we share and the activities we are involved in to share Ontic’s message to the world.
2022 will be a time to focus on our core offering and help more clients benefit from what is working well for others — the clarity of not only seeing all threat data in one view but knowing how to understand and act on it and trust that it is continually updated in real-time. Sure, we’ll try things, new markets, new products, and we’ll be even more calculated in our approach and focus on fewer things than we have over the past year.
This will include focusing internally on enabling and making our employees successful in more ways than we have before. It’s not going to be just about more people but helping our current people be the best they can be at what they do.
Our company strategy will also be articulated more clearly so everyone knows where we are going, and how we’re going to get there.
As I write this, we’re in the middle of the current Omicron wave, so, surely this year will have its challenges and surprises. But I know with our focus on our clients’ success and our energy spent ensuring everyone at Ontic has what they need to best support our clients, we’ll be able to tackle challenges ahead and continue building this great product and amazing company to serve our clients the intelligence they need to protect their companies and keep them operational.
It’s going to be a fun ride and I am honored to have a role in leading the way.