The SaaS data protection and security landscape is constantly evolving, bringing technical advancements, compliance concerns, and new (and many times unknown) vulnerabilities that could compromise your data’s safety. With so many variables at play, it’s only a matter of time before your questions pile up faster than the answers.
In times like these, it’s critical to have a support system you can count on to navigate your SaaS data’s present (and future) needs. This is possible with an Own Technical Account Manager. With their unique combination of evolving industry knowledge, training, and expertise, TAMs help customers identify, assess, and bridge data protection gaps, ultimately remaining in control of their data.
To learn more about Own TAMs, we spoke with Senior Technical Account Manager Kris McCabe to unpack this important role and explain how to determine if working with a TAM is right for you.
Q: What does a day in the life of a Technical Account Manager look like at Own? What benefits will customers get from working with a TAM?
A: Technical Account Managers are expert problem solvers. We come from all walks of life, having worked for businesses as ex-System Admins, Developers, Analysts, and Architects. I get to work with a broad range of customers with very large complex architectures. Our customers treat us as part of their team. We provide trusted advice on how to ensure they are owning their data protection and security through Own product(s), whilst conforming to industry best practices.
The DNA of an Own Technical Account Manager is to be:
- A trusted advisor
- Thought leader
From the day the TAM is assigned to a customer, we take care of their technical questions and cases, help them identify gaps in their data recovery plans, assess their effectiveness in responding to data loss by carrying out a DR3™, and provide recommendations and regular training with Center of Excellence (CoE), their technical teams and contracted vendors. In all these activities, our customers benefit from our years of first-hand experience. We work closely with customers to protect their environments like they are our own.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of your role? And the most challenging?
A: As a Senior Technical Account Manager, my role is to be a player, technical leader, and coach. I love working with all the customers in our care and helping them be successful in their mission to own their data protection posture. I am privileged to be able to help grow our team’s skills and knowledge through mentorship and creating training/enablement opportunities that benefit our Technical Account Managers career development and, in turn, our customers.
The most challenging aspect of being a Technical Account Manager can be when we need to deliver a topic or news that our customers may not want to hear because it can challenge their perception or confirm their fears. The conversations can be tough, but they are necessary to help our customers close gaps and increase their security posture to avoid data loss and corruption events from occurring. But we are fortunate that many of our customers love that about having a Technical Account Manager - this builds trust through transparency and allows us to build strong partnerships.
Q: Technical account capabilities are always advancing. How do you and your team stay ahead of the latest information and trends in data protection? Why is this important for both your role and the customer’s needs?
A: The industry is constantly shifting with the introduction of new technologies and security best practices. As Technical Account Managers, we employ a life-learning mindset to keep updated and certified. This includes attending conferences, undertaking regular technical training/briefings, and renewing accreditations or certifications as institutes and vendors require. We are required to undertake data security awareness training twice a year, as does every Own employee. We also need an awareness of specific legislations and regulations in multiple countries (GDPR, CIPA, HIPAA, etc.) to ensure that our advice is compliant for customers. We also regularly share knowledge across our technical communities at Own and help create enablement training to help ensure we maintain our core knowledge.
The Technical Account Management team constantly innovates to identify ways to improve and deliver deeper, meaningful value to our customers. This enables us to stretch our personal experiences and to develop new understandings and methodologies from which the DR3™ was born.
The benefits to our customers through our learning and keeping up with the industry is the confidence and peace of mind that the advice they receive can be relied upon and validated with solid evidenced resources, artifacts, and documentation. Being kept up to date with the latest information in industry and data protection is essential to ensure we can help customers close gaps and remain in control of their data from the latest threats and attack vectors that could result in data loss, fines, and reputational damage.
Q: Own pioneered the Data Recovery Readiness and Response cycle/methodology (DR3™). What role do TAMs play in DR3? How do they elevate the data protection experience at Own?
A: The DR3™ was something I co-founded to be delivered by Own Technical Account Managers to help customers identify the gaps in their data recovery readiness and incident response. With the DR3™, we assess every customer on the following five areas of responding to data loss in the cloud on a quarterly or six monthly basis:
The goal of the assessment is to provide a DR3™ maturity grade/level that describes their data recovery readiness, as well as a report with recommendations on how identified gaps could be addressed based on our experience as Technical Account Managers. There is a great podcast where I talk about how we applied DR3™ to a customer in an actual data loss situation.
Our Technical Account Managers are certified practitioners of the DR3™ cycle/methodology. The assessment takes about 30-45 minutes to complete, and we go through a set of open questions to uncover evidence where they are doing well or need to focus on improvement. It is not an examination or inspection scenario, but we elicit the information through open and honest discussions with senior technical, legal, or compliance executives in a ‘safe space.’ Once we have completed the assessment, we then agree on the DR3™ maturity grade/level with a clear plan of how this could be increased for the next assessment.
The DR3™ directly aligns with many cyber security frameworks such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cyber Security Framework and Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (C2M2) in the US, National Cyber Security Centre: Cyber Assessment Framework (NCSC CAF) in the UK, and Data Security Maturity Model (DSMM) by the Data Security Working Group. This, in turn, gives our customers peace of mind that whatever an Own TAM identifies or recommends is backed by well-established industry standards and best practices.
Q: For customers seeking a SaaS third-party solution, what criteria should they consider to determine if a TAM is suitable for their needs?
A: There are a number of factors to consider to determine whether or not you need a TAM:
- Complexity of the Architecture that needs to be protected
We now live in an age where businesses need to connect to many SaaS applications to automate often complex business processes and to have a single pane of glass when it comes to data warehousing and analytics to drive better decision-making and delight customers. If you have a complex architecture, a TAM with experience in several technologies and a strong understanding of your application architecture can help you design a scalable data protection and recovery strategy to protect your business from unexpected outages.
Own TAMs are veteran incident responders should a data loss occur and can help you lead the response team in what can be a very stressful experience.
- Lack of capability or knowledge surrounding data protection and recovery in your Centre of Excellence or technical teams
We work with teams who are everyday rockstars and can drive businesses through technology at high velocity. But a data loss or corruption event does not frequently happen when you have a team that operates a good DevOps or Development lifecycle methodology. However good your technical solutions or teams are, data loss or corruption will happen at some point. You may have a backup solution in place, but when was this last tested? Has the team changed significantly since implementation?
Having a Technical Account Manager on your implementation that you can call upon to help you put your team to the test and to rehearse the Data Recovery Plan and Incident Plans will help you build up resiliency while keeping your team validated with their knowledge on how to use the tools at their disposal to meet RTO’s.
- ‘Trust through Transparency’ is the key to gaining honest advice
If you need someone to bounce ideas with or to hear an informed opinion on how to ensure your business is ready in the event of a data loss or corruption, having a Technical Account Manager you know and trust is essential. We aim to offer advice without bias; sometimes, our answers may relate to something other than just Own being the solution.
Having a Technical Account Manager is like asking a ‘critical friend’ for support or help forming and driving a data protection strategy. It is also important to check with a vendor offering a TAM about their experience, grade, and certifications and how they can add value to your business. If you can, ask to meet your potential TAM first to see how they can help add value to your team.
- If you need an enhanced or personalized proactive support for your business
It’s important to check the support package you get with any products. At Own, we have an amazing support team with different levels of support level agreements. But you may need someone dedicated to your team who takes more time to get to know your organization and application architecture so you can get more tailored advice or solutions.
A Technical Account Manager fills this gap to ensure your technical account is well- managed, and all cases are handled swiftly. This may include bringing in more resources to help resolve issues, such as directly engaging the engineering and product teams to speed up the process.
You should also check your third-party vendor SLAs in terms of coverage hours for both support and Technical Account Managers to ensure your business is covered during its hours of operation.
Ready to see the difference that a TAM can make in your data protection journey? Download the data sheet to learn more or request a demo below.