TalkingHeadz with Brett Shockley, CEO Journey.AI

by Dave Michels brings some of my favorite subjects and people together right here in my backyard. Let’s start with subjects. Journey sits at the intersection of Contact Center, Cryptography, and Zero Knowledge security. Security just doesn’t get enough attention in enterprise communications. That’s in part because it’s too complex. For example, security and CCaaS are often different departments (customers and analysts).

On the people side, we have some industry legends including our guest Brett Shockley, his son Alex Shockley (President and elite climber), Michael Frendo (Juniper, Polycom, Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel), and Andy Miller (Polycom, Tandberg, BroadSoft) to name a few. The company was based in Denver, Colorado. During the pandemic they closed their office and worked around the Denver metro area (including Boulder), and are ow seeking a new Denver LoDo location for its world headquarters.

Like most of us, Journey took a look at the modern contact center and didn’t like what it saw. Some are secure, but it’s annoying as hell, Most are convenient with the illusion of security (fist pet’s name or mother’s maiden name is not secure). There has to be a better way, a way to make the customer experience both easy and secure. That’s what Journey cracked and they it in a portable way – that is it works with most contact center solutions.

What an idea, the security service is portable instead of the customer’s data! Journey’s solutions make contact centers actually secure without the theater or hassle (mind blown). Journey cracked the code, and did so in a portable way. Clever, the security service is portable instead of the customer’s data.


Dave Michels 0:12
Welcome to Talking Heads today, Evan and I will be talking with Brett Shockley of journey AI. How you doing?

Evan Kirstel 0:19
All things considered? I’m about 65%. So but thanks for asking,

Dave Michels 0:24
Well, you know, we know you’re 100%. So instead of all things we’ll just consider, you know, something’s

Evan Kirstel 0:28
never 100% you know, maybe 75 80%, we’ll,

Dave Michels 0:31
we’ll do that you were sick, I was sick. We had to delay this podcast cuz you weren’t feeling well,

Evan Kirstel 0:36
not COVID I guess none of our immune systems have been challenged for a year and a half. So when you get a common cold now, it’s like the flu. So yeah, this is this new pandemic, life is really fabulous.

Dave Michels 0:48
I’m glad you’re feeling better. So we’re gonna be talking with Brett Shockley from journey, which is going to be another context, in our conversation, we’ve been having a lot of those. But, you know, what I’m finding is that it’s the context center that causes disloyalty with customers, and I’m experiencing this now that I’m aware of it, where the company, you know, I just had this issue with my bank, they detected a fraud issue. And that’s okay, I’m not upset about that it was a false positive, but that’s okay. They’re worth looking out for me. I’m okay with that. And they say I have to call to fix it. So I call him up to fix it. And it literally takes I was doing in between flights, I had allowed 40 minutes for this call. And it wasn’t enough. And that is when I go ballistic. I’m done with this bank. I don’t want to do any more business in this bank. It’s because of the customer service experience that makes me want to get upset, not because of what the bank did.

Evan Kirstel 1:41
Yeah, today’s customer service experiences like we saw class. I mean, at least you could call someone there’s another service, I think I saw you used called review and email marketing newsletter service. And basically there was no customer service. It’s an email that doesn’t get a response. So what do you do about these phenomena?

Dave Michels 2:00
write negative things about them in my email newsletter, so they’ve disabled my Send button.

Evan Kirstel 2:05
Well, I that was me. But in all seriousness, I can’t stand companies who either aren’t responsive or don’t have a convenient mechanism to reach customer service. I mean, Amazon’s a complete opposite. I ordered a inflatable paddleboard of all things a couple weeks ago, it didn’t arrive or was delivered and stolen or delivered and disappeared or God knows what you contact Amazon in this case, it was their their chat bot, and they just immediately refunded it, no questions asked. no hassle. So guess who am I going to buy from next time? It’s going to be Amazon again.

Dave Michels 2:38
Are you saying your inflatable paddleboard blew up?

Evan Kirstel 2:41
It was an inflatable girl. No, I’m just kidding. It was a paddleboard. And it was never, it was never delivered. But $400 problem solved in 10 seconds.

Dave Michels 2:51
That’s great. Well, let’s get Brett and find out what they’re doing to make customer service better.

Evan Kirstel 2:55
Let’s do it.

god 2:56
TalkingHeadz is a semi monthly podcast with interviews so the top movers and shakers in enterprise communications and collaboration. Your hosts are Dave Michaels and Evan Kirkstall, both of which offer extraordinary services including research, analysis and social media marketing. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at talking points. com. That’s points with the Z and Devin curse. That’s kr STL. Today we

Dave Michels 3:25
have with us bread Shockley, the CEO of journey AI welcome, Brett. Thanks so much, Dave. Great to be here. I’m actually a little suspicious. If you’re the real bread. Could I get your mother’s maiden name, please?

Brett Shockley 3:39
Oh, that’s a tightly held secret. Very few people could figure that out. I’m sure

Dave Michels 3:42
it’s extraordinary how often I still get asked that question. It was a great question in the 70s. But I’m not sure how secure that is anymore. So anyway, Evan, Are you here to I think I heard your laugh there.

Evan Kirstel 3:53
I’m here. I’m from an undisclosed location in the bunker. Yes,

Dave Michels 3:57
I get all kinds of privacy on this podcast episode. So Brett, I think I met you when you were the CTO at Avaya. But you’ve been around you were also responsible for corporate development at Avaya. You were at Cisco before that, heading up their contacts under business. You’ve been involved with fuse and eGain. No wonder you named your current company journey You must be exhausted.

Brett Shockley 4:20
It has been a long journey over the years. I got into the contact center space when we started a company called family communications, which was a leading integrator of contact center solutions and developed a lot of software desktop applications. We ended up starting calabrio and those software applications became the core of that business and so been a lot of different sides of this both very large as well as the startup companies where you’re, you’re agonizing over every couple $100 you put in each week.

Evan Kirstel 4:50
So Brett, great to hear you again. Contact Center is kind of like the mafia once you go in you never go out alive at least. So who else is a journey? I heard Michael for And I was there too with alum from Avaya and Bali.

Brett Shockley 5:03
Yeah, we’ve got a number of interesting folks, Michael friendos, our CTO, and he’s brought a very interesting background. Back in the early days of Cisco when the internet was growing 5% a week was his team that was rewriting iOS to keep up with that. And then he started Voice over IP there. So a lot of interesting voice experience, piece of his background a lot of people aren’t as familiar with is when he ran the security business at Juniper. And he had a team of white hat hackers working for him that were doing things like breaking into ATMs on stage at the blackhat conference, and things like that to sort of show what was possible what needed to be protected against

Dave Michels 5:40
you like hats. Evan, you didn’t mention the brains of the organization. I understand. Alex Shockley, Brett’s son is also there is it? Is it

Brett Shockley 5:48
hard to work with your son, you know, it’s been wonderful, actually, you got to keep in mind that as an entrepreneur my entire life, he grew up at the kitchen table, hearing the stories, learning the lessons, watching the frustrations and the stress and challenges associated with it. Alex graduated from Boulder, and he ended up starting a company that was doing digital marketing, which he sold to one of the oldest ad agencies in Colorado, and that business that he sold to them, is now the largest part of their business. So you know, he’s had that entrepreneurial journey at an early, early age in terms of starting building, selling, going through the urine out. And as you know, oftentimes, m&a isn’t always as successful as people hope. So doing that successfully. And going through that whole process is a heck of a learning experience. You know, it’s been a great sort of combination between his background with the digital marketing side, my side, coming from the contact center world, because as we all know, today, we really have to take a look at that whole customer journey holistically.

Evan Kirstel 6:48
Wow, that’s, that’s impressive, Dave, I need to build a marketing company I can sell. I think that’s one of my big opportunities. But speaking of Alex, I never quite understand the difference between the CEO and a president. So maybe you can explain to our audience who does what? Well,

Brett Shockley 7:05
I think that probably varies by company. But the reality is that he and I work very closely together, I tend to lead more of the business development side of things, he tends to lead more of the operations side, of course, with his marketing background, you really is our cmo as well. But you know, in an organization at our size, everybody plays a number of positions, and we kind of support each other.

Evan Kirstel 7:28
Yeah, speaking of big organizations, you’ve been a big corporate exact, most of your career, I met you when you were at Avaya. So a family business isn’t exactly a new concept. But it’s new for you. So how many times have you fired Alex? Or has he fired you?

Brett Shockley 7:45
You know, it’s kind of interesting, because in my career, I’ve been on both ends of this, I’ve both been on the multibillion dollar corporation side in executive roles. And then I’ve also been sort of the guy that gets together with a couple of friends and start something from scratch and take a look at our first company in the contact center space family communications, we took it public on $3,000 of invested capital. So when you build a business, that way, it’s very much about selling something, getting some down payments, getting something delivered and getting some more money in the door, hiring more people and kind of growing it organically. And I think being able to balance those two things off of each other makes a tremendous difference in sort of your perspective on growing a business. And I think when you’re inside of a large corporation, it tends to make you a lot more aware of sensitive to people up and down the organization. And you kind of end up building a knowledge set of Who are the people within the organization that are sort of the thought leaders around different topics. And you tend to reach more into the organization to kind of build that knowledge base and build that team across the organization. In terms of working with Alex, so far, he hasn’t fired me and fired him. And like I said, I think a lot of that having grown up together makes a big difference. And you know, he’s a very interesting person. By the time he was 20 years old, he had climbed for the Seven Summits. And you don’t do that without the ability to have a lot of determination, a lot ability to deal with adversity. And if you’re talking to Alex some time, ask him about type two fun. That’s the kind of fun where you’re absolutely miserable when you’re in the middle of it. And afterwards, it’s the best thing that ever happened to you. And I think sometimes you run into a little of that when you’re playing the entrepreneur.

Dave Michels 9:30
Love it. Well, I’m always miserable when I’m around heaven. So I’m kind of

Evan Kirstel 9:33
they’re just miserable in general. Actually. I’ve heard that about you guys.

Dave Michels 9:38
But I have a feeling after after Alex hears this podcast, you might get fired. So let’s not get too confident here. But I want to ask you Okay, we’ve covered three people, Michael, you and Alex. So a couple of old guys in the kid. Little more of a rundown. No, is that the whole team or I suspect you’ve hired a few more. Tell us in general terms, who you’ve hired. Are you doing most Industry veterans are mostly skewing younger, what’s your demographic there?

Brett Shockley 10:04
It’s really a mix. So some of the other core team include top Parana, who is my co founder at spamela communications, Mark Becky’s, who used to run Voice over IP Product Management at Cisco. And I worked with years ago when he was in the conversion group in Bell Labs, we’ve got a number of younger players that we brought in the development team tends to be a little more in the millennial crowd than some of us older guys. On the sales side, we recently brought in Gary Coleman, who I knew at Cisco, he actually used to be a product manager working for me when I was running the CC bu over there, and belasting, who’s running sales overall for us. So it’s a good mix of very senior veterans, as well as a number of brilliant young developers that are contributing a lot to the business.

Dave Michels 10:54
I forgot that you were a bill, lead, you mentioned that that must have been kind of weird with your last name being at Bell Labs.

Brett Shockley 11:01
Well, I wasn’t actually at Bell Labs, I worked with them a lot over the years. And when I was at, at Avaya, I ran the Avaya labs team, which was obviously made up of mostly people that had previously been part of Bell Labs, a little known fact, Dave Michaels was not only at Bell Labs, he

Evan Kirstel 11:16
invented the telephone calling.

Brett Shockley 11:19
But you’re right about the name, people in the industry, tend to look at me and say, Oh, are you related? And not as far as I know, but you never know.

Evan Kirstel 11:27
Let’s dive into this. So what is actually do to me, it sounds like a chatbot that recommends vacation?

Brett Shockley 11:36
Well, you know, that could be one of it could be a side business.

Evan Kirstel 11:39
Oh, good. Maybe I’ll look into that.

Brett Shockley 11:40
Yeah, witchery really does is it’s focused on this concept of trusted identity. And when you think about identity, most people tend to think about it as Oh, that’s authentication. I know what that is. But it’s really at the core of the relationship between the customer and a business. And the development of identity starts before your customer. Typically, there’s an enrollment process that you go through where you start to verify identity, and set it up so that it can be used more later on in that relationship with a company. It has to do with authentication, whether it’s on the phone, or on the web, or chat or a variety of other methodologies. And it has to do with the privacy and security that’s associated with that identity throughout the lifecycle of interactions that you might have with a company over time.

Dave Michels 12:31
It’s all kinds of kinds of stuff, you know, your website talks about authentication and zero knowledge. It’s all kind of background or invisible stuff, basically everything but a memorable journey. I guess you’re trying not to be memorable.

Brett Shockley 12:44
That’s exactly right. You know, the concept of zero knowledge was sort of generated with a cryptography concept, where the idea is that you don’t have to know everything about everybody to be able to know who they are, for example. So the classic example is you walk into a bar, you hand them your driver’s license, the bartender, the bouncer, now, those two

Dave Michels 13:05
guys walked into a bar, you got that wrong?

Brett Shockley 13:08
Yeah, you’re giving away your address, you’re giving away your birthdate. If you’re a young lady, you might not feel really good about handing that kind of information to the bouncer in the bar. And the reality is, all they need to know is that you’re over 21. That concept is at the core of everything that we’ve done. And what we’ve done is really taken that idea and we’ve expanded it to make it a network based concept. And to allow it to be used not just for only providing proof that something’s true, but also to give fine grained control so that we can provide small amounts of information to people or applications really on a need to know basis. Do you think about the the intelligence world, one of the concepts of how you avoid information from being stolen is that it’s never there in the first place. And so that’s something that we have really applied to this world as well. And if you think about in a call center sort of context, some of the places that this applies is that there’s a tremendous amount of things about the way that you do identity and contact center that people would say are broken, if you talk to your to your neighbor, about what happened to them yesterday, when they call their bank, or when they call their utility. The first thing that happened is they wanted to know their 16 digit account number, then they wanted to know their pin number. Then they connected to an agent who wanted to know what their favorite pizza topping was. And none of that really provides much of any security. But it provides a tremendous amount of customer x and friction. If you can solve that problem, you make a tremendous impact on both the customer experience on that inbound phone call as well as the security and the data privacy associated with the information that’s flying around. Once you’re actually talking to somebody in that contact center, when they start asking you those questions that make you squirm in your chair. We solve those problems as well so that basically instead of asking questions, that When you’re a contact center working from home, you could write down or gather information about, we use the zero knowledge approach to basically let the agent click a button on their, on their display. And that sends a request to the customer pops up on their phone, they enter the information, it’s encrypted locally and sent off to wherever it’s going to get verified. The agent never hears it, they never see it. And the customer is confident that the information has been validated in a way that doesn’t pass that information along. So there’s a number of different approaches that we use with this technology to sort of provide better customer experience as well as managing the data privacy of those transactions.

Dave Michels 15:38
of the things that I see the journey does the one that I find the most intriguing, actually, although zero knowledge says always remind me of Evan is the biometrics stuff. I think that’s really interesting. I get so frustrated with the mother’s maiden name stuff like you’re talking about. So is biometrics. A good enough thing? Or does it actually is it actually secure?

Brett Shockley 15:57
Depends on the biometrics and depends on how you do it. Yeah,

Dave Michels 15:59
I’m not talking fingerprints, I’m talking voice verification.

Brett Shockley 16:03
So the reality is that voice biometrics by itself doesn’t provide really the kind of veracity that you need for a lot of different kinds of transactions. If you take a look at the what happens when you deploy active voice biometrics, for example, typically, you’re in the 90 94% range, by the time that you tweak it so that it’s tolerant of being in a noisy car out in the wind. So it’s good. It’s much better than knowledge based authentication, your mother’s maiden name. But would you let somebody transferred $10,000 to some country in Eastern Europe based on it probably not a good idea to use that all by itself. If you take a look at the example that I gave earlier, when you call into the call center, you enter all that information, you definitely could go through a situation where instead of doing all that, you say, My voice is my password, please authenticate me or something like that. And you’re going to get better veracity of authentication than merely using that information. The approach that we’re taking will allow you to use voice biometrics, but will also allow you to bring in things like facial biometrics on your device. If you use the facial biometrics on your device, the way that works is, when you call into the call center, we’re going to recognize that you’ve got the mobile app for that company, for example, installed on your mobile. And we’re going to ask you for real estate for faster and more personalized service, please log into your mobile app, you say what the heck is this about, you’re going to look at your phone, there’s going to be an in app notification that if you touch that it spins face ID, and you’re instantly authenticated veracity is about one in a million, and then you’re delivered to an agent, that’s the appropriate agent to take care of you. So that’s one way of getting the veracity way up and doing it while you’re reducing friction at the same time. My voice is a passport that I associate that with the movie sneakers, which is just a great movie, and the word passport is so sexy. But anyway, I want to comment on I’ve noticed that a lot of contact centers now have degrees of authentication. So yeah, transferring money to an eastern bank might require a higher degree of authentication. But if you’re just asking, you know, some basic stuff, they seem to accept a lower verification, that seems to be a new thing to me is that have you noticed that and it’s really an appropriate thing to do. One of the things that we’ve done with our approaches, we put a network underneath the identity solution, which essentially allows anybody to be a requester of information, anybody else to be a provider of it, and some other person or application to be a verifier of it. By doing that you sort of allow all kinds of different actors to play a role in delivering information that can be used as a part of this. And when you start talking about using different levels of veracity, and biometric authentication or other methods, having that sort of universal approach that allows you to bring in different techniques and orchestrate them across the jury makes a huge difference. So if you want to have somebody call a bank, and all they’re looking for is the nearest ATM, you probably don’t need a whole lot of veracity around who they are. But as they start doing transactions you obviously do. One of the things that drives that Dave is this concept of fraud versus friction. We’re all sort of familiar with this idea that if I want to really be careful that someone’s who they say they are, make sure I’m not letting a fraudster do something that I’m going to drive up friction in the conversation. And so people tend to try to minimize the amount of friction and be able to balance out against the fraud risk that they think they have. That’s a general concept. And to be honest, the approach we’re taking makes it so easy to do high veracity authentication, that in reality, we find that we can apply a much higher degree of authentication veracity than you would normally see at almost any kind of transaction because we can do it in a way that actually reduces the customer friction instead of increasing it.

Evan Kirstel 20:00
Great. Well, I went from zero knowledge at the beginning of this podcast to knowing that journey data AI does a lot in terms of identity and trust. But Brett contact centers have been around for a long time, they tend to have a way of doing things the way they’ve always done. How hard is it to offer them something new and kind of differentiated? Well,

Brett Shockley 20:22
you know, you’re absolutely right, they tend to have their patterns. And, you know, I think one of the things that started to get them to look at it a little differently is the fact that depending on the source that you look at anywhere from 50 to 60% of fraud these days is originating in the contact center ever since we put a chip on a credit card, you couldn’t social engineer the clerk’s in the stores anymore, and other social engineering the contact center agents. So that’s driving a lot of interest and working on that problem. So you’ve got that side of it, pushing it. And then the other thing that you’ve got going on is that everybody’s worried about digital customer experience. And today, it’s pretty much terrible when you call into a contact center. In many cases, it’s given me your 16 digit account number, your PIN number, your mother’s maiden name. And people know that’s not great security. Plus, they’re really frustrated by it. And so that’s one big piece the contact center struggle with and then the next piece, especially with the pandemic, with everybody working from home, is how do you feel when you start giving your personal information to an agent on the phone that’s probably working at their kitchen table in some other country? I mean, it makes you squirm, right. So there’s a lot of issues around how do we do these transactions without letting these agents know, all of our personal information. And probably the one of the third big use cases is around outbound. Right now we’re getting to the point where over half the phone calls that we receive are attempted spam, and it says unknown caller or possible spam. And even if we do answer the phone, we end up in this silly conversation about Are you really my bank, and the banks trying to figure out are you really Evan, and so you end up hanging up on each other, and you call back and it takes a half an hour to get ahold of somebody. So there’s these use cases out there that we solve, we drive Matic improvement in customer experience, we drive up the security and the privacy at the same time instead of a trade off between fraud and friction. And so what we find is, once we get that sort of conversation going, people are amazed that this is really a whole new way to think about things. The other side of that is contact centers will say well, I don’t do authentication, that’s something that’s done by some other part of it. But when I start showing them how we can save them a minute, a phone call on in the US, you might think contact center us might be a buck a minute, that’s setting up to real money, and we start talking about large enterprises. And then we start talking about how you can so dramatically improve the customer experience, which becomes really obvious with the demos. Usually, we get people very interested in taking the next step.

Dave Michels 22:51
I don’t know why you have to be so derogatory towards spam. I love spam. I love the spam and eggs and spam and spam and sausage and spam. But well, then you should come to Minnesota. That’s where the home of spam is. The home of spam. Did you know there’s a spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota? Oh, my gosh. So we got to do we got to the Live podcast was banned in about a road trip. So a lot of what journey does I mean, you talked about squirming and stuff. But a lot of attorney does this just play the role of an intermediary, the caller is still giving their secret personal data, there’s somebody over the phone, I guess, or some bot or something over the phone. And so that’s squaring factor is still there, right? I mean, all you’re really doing is saying the agents can’t be trusted.

Brett Shockley 23:36
So we can take the agents out of scope. For example, from a PCI transaction, we can take the entire call center out of scope, same thing in a HIPAA transaction, because what’s happening is that in that case, the agent is requesting that something be verified, they click a button on their screen, that basically shows up on the person’s customer’s mobile phone, either in a browser or in a mobile app. They enter the data locally in their device, it’s encrypted locally with the public key of whoever is going to verify it, whether it’s a payment gateway, or some back office process in the enterprise. That information is then sent to that point where it’s verified. And the only thing the agent gets receives is a certificate that it’s true, or maybe a small piece of data that they’re going to confirm that shows up on their screen. So you’ve actually completely changed the nature of the security and privacy and you’ve done it with a dramatically improved customer experience. Yes, the customer is still giving their information entering information in their phone, but it’s not going to the agent. It’s not spreading customer PII and psi all over the place. But it’s letting it stay where it exists today and verifying information against it.

Evan Kirstel 24:44
Interesting. So who are the bad guys, exactly you’re protecting us against is that the agents themselves are so called hackers. Or even maybe the companies that might misuse our data. I mean, who wants this data so badly?

Brett Shockley 24:56
Well, so there’s there’s a few different things that are going on here. First, We’re streamlining the operational aspect of it. So if we can save everybody a minute, a phone call, we’re all happy, right? Secondly, from a security perspective, everybody’s trying to go steal the customer master. So we always hear about this enterprise, or this bank just lost 100 million identities. And that creates a brand reputation challenge. It makes everybody unhappy, right? And then what do people do with that? Well, everyday we’re hearing on the news, all these different problems with people that are taking that data then and they’re going applying for loans on your behalf. And till they pretty much borrow against your home or whatever other assets you have, and then they’re gone by the time people come looking for the money. So those issues are big personal issues for customers. And one of the reasons they’re concerned about security. From a fraud perspective, the enterprises have a huge issue with that fraud, both in terms of the cost of people committing the fraud, as well as turning down sales and credit card transactions that really should have gone through. So you’re talking billions of dollars associated with that fraud, both in terms of real fraud, as well as fraud that shouldn’t have been turned down. So there’s big dollars floating around this, whether it’s the operational cost, whether it’s security cost or the fraud cost.

Evan Kirstel 26:16
So journey makes solutions for contact centers, but you’re not a contact center provider yourself. So do you work with specific partners? Or are you agnostic?

Brett Shockley 26:26
Yeah, our solution will work really with anyone. This network based approach essentially has what we call journey identity gateways at the edge of our zero knowledge network. Those gateways have API’s that can then be connected either via connectors in a standard manner into different contact center systems or other standard products. Or you can go to the API’s directly, if you want to integrate it with a back office, enterprise database or other application. So it’s very flexible in terms of what gets connected to it. And the same thing applies to connecting biometric solutions or services that might verify information. And so can really fit pretty much into any of those environments. One of the things we are finding, as we’re starting to see some of the software providers in the space, looking at building identity kind of into the the base layer of their systems, because being able to make that identity information available throughout the lifecycle of a contact center solution, a chat solution, a web based transaction makes life easier and better. And you can provide better solutions with much higher security and governance around data privacy, which is, you know, not just a an issue for the enterprise in terms of security and privacy. But in terms of the regulatory issues and the costs associated with that as well.

Dave Michels 27:43
I want to get back to the naming here, I understand the journey is kind of, I don’t know, it’s becoming kind of a euphemism for customer engagement. And it’s a clever name in that sense, and I get why you pick the name journey. But I don’t understand why the contact center industry is using the word journey, because journeys to me are long and exhausting. I don’t take a journey to the grocery store, I want a short trip at best. So why not trip AI?

Brett Shockley 28:09
It’s a good idea. Maybe we could call our applets triplets or something like that

Evan Kirstel 28:14

Brett Shockley 28:15
From my perspective, when I think about a journey, I do think about something that’s a lifecycle. It’s not sort of just a quick single transaction. But it’s something that exists over time. And as we have worked with some of the manufacturers and cloud providers of software in this space, one of the things that’s pretty clear, as everybody’s trying to figure out how to have a continuous conversation. That’s not just one and done, but it really lives as you go from person to person and over time. And in my mind, that extended conversation really is a journey. And to enable it to work really well. Identity is just a key feature of it.

Evan Kirstel 28:51
So is it tough selling security slash identity solution? You know, given that security adds complexity and friction to a sale. How’s your experience been? with that? So

Brett Shockley 29:02
far, it’s all about the demo, when we show people how we can dramatically improve security and privacy. And at the same time reduce friction, I’m talking about if you take a look at like authenticating in a contact center, you can spend 45 to 90 seconds or the industry standards. If you really need to know who somebody is, we can get an order of magnitude higher veracity in that authentication and do it in under a second. So it’s a huge benefit from an operational cost perspective to the company. It’s also a huge benefit to the user that people aren’t asking them all kinds of silly questions.

Dave Michels 29:38
Well, in that sense, who are you selling to? enterprise? Are you are you dealing with the CIS Oh, are the contracts that are manager or the it dude, who are you conversing with?

Brett Shockley 29:49
It reminds me of the early days of IVR. When you were talking to the people that ran the call center, you were running, talking to the people who were running it, and you were talking to the line of business and usually you were Repeating with somebody that came in from one of those three directions, and you were usually coming from a different one and whoever one two of the three legs of the stool, got the business, this a little bit the same way. So you’ll end up with the line of business, the operations, people that are, you know, that are interested in how do I create a better customer experience, etc, you’ll end up with the contact center, folks that are running on a set of operational metrics, and you’ll end up with in it. Certainly the security people taking a look at the model. And I think what we’re finding is we can enter the opportunity from any one of those three directions. And you really, ultimately, you have to get each group’s attention to win. I had a really interesting conversation recently with the top Enterprise Architect of one of the tier one banks, and we were 20 minutes into our presentation. And he said, Well, so far, I haven’t seen anything I couldn’t do another way or don’t already have. And then we got about 45 minutes into the conversation. And he said, this is really dope. He said, you’ve solved the whole thing. I’ve never seen anything like this, we’ve been stringing together all kinds of different applications, and making them work together with complicated system integration. And we never get there from here. He said, what you’ve done here is really important. And we spent hours after that getting other enterprise architects onto the phone and talking about who would be the best line of business, folks to be the sponsors for what we were doing, because they could see the value of it being spread throughout the enterprise. So on the one hand, the fact that you could use it in a lot of different ways is a huge opportunity. At the same time, from a selling perspective, you’ve got to be a little bit careful, because you got to go after specific use cases that have specific decision makers and budgets associated with them. So that’s been one of the learnings for us is to strike that balance.

Dave Michels 31:49
You hear that Elon? He called you dope in a positive way? It’s not, it’s nice. But how do you actually get to have these conversations? Are you actually marketing and advertising to these enterprise customers, these banks directly, or are the contact center companies bringing you in, and I’ll be bringing you in as journey or as a silent partner.

Brett Shockley 32:09
We’re working with a variety of the contact center solution providers as well as identity providers, RPA providers. Our theory on this is even though we’ve got a number of very senior people that have been around the industry a long time, and we can go get the meeting with the senior executives, the reality is, even if they love what we have, they’re not going to step over six layers of management to go make a decision, and then put us into the vendor approval process. You know, that takes a long time. So we’re really focused on working with channel partners that are either reselling our solution and doing the systems integration to deliver it to the end customer, or with the cloud contact center providers themselves, where they can embed us into their solutions and make it part of the overall solution. At this point, just about everybody that we’re working with is happy to use journeys name and talk about us upfront. I suspect, as we start looking at some of the OEM arrangements that we’re working on will end up being white labeled and behind the scenes, in some cases,

Dave Michels 33:09
are these with companies that you’ve previously worked at.

Brett Shockley 33:12
There’s some of those conversations that are happening as you as you might imagine, one of the interesting ones, you might want to take a look at his take a look at some of the new financial services, cloud contact center solutions that Avaya is promoting, right now, you might see some familiar things, if you look at those demos, interesting.

Evan Kirstel 33:29
have to take a look. So you’ve been around the contact center world for some time, I want to ask how many decades but I have Road Rash probably longer than even Dave Michaels, which is amazing. So what do you think of the state of the industry, state of the contact center industry, things getting better, from a customer service experience standpoint is just changed for the good, or just new acronyms and, and different names for the same old stuff? You know, I

Brett Shockley 33:56
think it’s very exciting. There’s definitely different names for the same old stuff. There’s things that we could do 20 or 30 years ago that people are now talking about as brand new, and etc. But at the same time, the method of putting these things together and the ability to do them in our lifetime instead of you know, some of those projects we all got involved in that never quite ended, has changed dramatically as you take a look at sort of the API driven solutions that can be connected together in ways that are quite different and solve new problems. And you can get the engineers that might be within an enterprise to help you in building those solutions. I mean, there’s a lot of things that are changing in the way that you can put these things together and using the cloud to deliver them, you know, things that you just couldn’t do before unless you were very close to the metal. Now you can use the elastic capabilities of the various cloud based platforms to build things that can scale to unimaginable sizes in a more reasonable period of time. So even though I would say a lot of what you’re seeing today may have existed in the past, really doing it at scale and Really gluing all the pieces together with the vision that we’ve all talked about for many years, it was pretty tough to accomplish five years ago, today, it’s getting easier and easier. So some of those things we’ve talked about for years will actually become real, and will actually start being able to get delivered within the context of mid to large enterprise project. I think that’s very different. And so I think you’ll see this speed of innovation is definitely going to continue to increase.

Dave Michels 35:27
One of the biggest changes we’re seeing is actually coming from not within the industry. But outside, it’s I’m talking about these new laws and rules around around privacy, like GDPR. And I guess you can throw a PCI in there, and that California, why whatever that is called. So a whole bunch of regulations and laws around and privacy, are these changes, creating opportunities for journey, or are the context under vendors upping their game and locking you out?

Brett Shockley 35:54
It’s creating enormous opportunity for us. If you take a look at sort of the state of the enterprise as it relates to customer data. For years, people have basically taken the customer Master, each new department division and application thinks it’s okay to make their own copy of it. And pretty soon you have data all over the place, and the enterprise tries to protect it by building big walls around each one of those databases, which of course, hackers are attracted to because it becomes a big honeypot of data. And that’s why you see 100 million identities at a time getting stolen. If you take a look at the approach that we’re taking to that, it’s very, very different in our world, you can leave the data wherever the data is most secure. You can use our zero knowledge network technology to just to test information and see if it’s true. Or if you’re over a given age, or you’ve got a bank balance over a certain amount or whatever needs to be done in the transaction. You don’t have to give a contact center Agent 17 applications running at the same time with the customer’s entire life history, all while they’re sitting at their kitchen table with their iPhone close at hand. It’s a completely different world. In our case, we can verify the data leave it where it is, in our network, we never make a copy of any information. And we don’t even have the keys to decrypt the information. We basically a big part of what we do in our zero knowledge network is we orchestrate the cryptographic keys. So if someone’s going to answer a question for the contact center agent, we send their mobile device the public key of whoever’s gonna verify it, that public key then encrypts the information the customer enters, it gets sent across the zero knowledge network. And it’s an ephemeral transaction. So there’s only going to be one set up this way, it’s going to be delivered to wherever it’s going to get verified, it’s unencrypted with their private key. So we don’t, we have no way to unencrypted ourselves, they verify it and they send the attestation that it’s been verified back to the agent and to the customer. So they’ve got that record in their app on their phone, for example. So it completely changes the game, you don’t have to try to figure out how I’m going to redact that information after the fact I don’t have to turn screen recording on and off, I don’t have to delete logs, I don’t have to go pay auditors to prove that I’m PCI compliant, because the data has never been in my contact center. And my agents hands in the first place.

Evan Kirstel 38:10
Impressive. So Dave, and I have had pretty much every contact center vendor under the sun, on the show, at one time or another, most seem to be caught in the middle of a make versus buy dilemma. You know, they’re both building out their own applications to be stronger and broader, but also building an ecosystem of partners and solutions. So is there like a magic secret decoder ring that you use when you see partners, and how they make that build or buy decision? Well,

Brett Shockley 38:41
I’ve been in that position many times in my Cisco and Avaya days, as well as in my own companies over the years. I think I’m up close to 40 m&a transactions at that in my career, and you’re bound to get a right one of these times. Yeah, exactly. It’s definitely not easy. But there’s a lot of different motivations on why you would do it. All things being equal, everybody would say, well, I’ll just develop it myself, and we’ll be ready to go. But that takes time. Sometimes you’ve got organizational or cultural issues associated with trying to get things done, you’ve got a business to run. And so that oftentimes will drive people to partner versus build. Also, if there’s really unique or complex technology, it can take a long time to try to create something yourself. Like in our case, we’ve been at a three and a half years, we’ve got 23 patents pending, well, I take that back, it’s now 21 patents pending, because we’ve had to granted in the last two weeks. And doing what we do is really hard. It’s really complicated. And there’s not that many people that are expert at it. So and we bring something that can easily plug into pretty much any of the contact center systems that are out there today, and it doesn’t really compete with anything they already do. In my career, I’ve spent so much time competing with product managers with regard to their Phantom roadmap, or you’ll be working with some big enterprise you’ll have some solution that they should really partner with you on or OEM or whatever. And there’ll be some product manager that’ll be fighting you because they view you as a competitor. And you’re like, wait a minute, you guys don’t do this? And he says, Yeah, but it’s on my roadmap. And you’ll say, Well, I haven’t heard of this roadmap you’re describing Well, it’s not on the published roadmap. It’s the one I carry in my back pocket that I’d like to do someday. That ends up being one of the biggest obstacles sometimes to partnering with companies. But the great thing for us with the journey is, generally identity doesn’t show up that way. And what we’re doing is so unique, we usually don’t run into those kinds of issues.

Dave Michels 40:28
I’m really glad that we’re having this conversation today, because we’ve had a few guests on our podcast from Boston, Boston based companies, which always makes Evan gloat. He’s so proud, we

Evan Kirstel 40:40
get spot where we had spot. I spent a couple of years up there. Of

Dave Michels 40:44
course, he did. But I think you made I think journey may be the first Colorado based company on our podcast. And I recall, you even had an office in downtown Denver, did that survive the pandemic?

Brett Shockley 40:58
Well, the office we had in downtown Denver, the lease ended last September. So we figured given no one was there, we probably let that go. But we’re actually now in the process of negotiating on a new space, when you’ve got a whole team of millennials that are working on developing new products, there’s a lot of benefit to getting people together once in a while. And so we’re gonna go ahead and move back to that kind of an environment. Sure, we’ll have hybrid working and we’ll let people spread around the country. But we’re going to have a core space that people can come together as well.

Dave Michels 41:28
Now, I’m also glad that you mentioned that Alex is a climber because I’ve always kind of thought and he always uses it his demos and examples K to bank. And I’ve always thought he should use Pikes Peak bank. And so now I understand that a little better. But I, I still think you should play up to Denver or the Colorado angle a little stronger.

Brett Shockley 41:48
You know, Colorado is a great place to headquarter, the business. In some respects, it’s kind of become like the East Bay, which unfortunately, is driving up some of the costs and making it harder to hire people. But the reality is, is that everybody loves loves Colorado, they love Denver, we run an ad, even if we run it locally, in Denver, we get people applying from New York and Florida and all over the place. Because there’s a certain draw that those mountains have and the culture that’s going on in Colorado, and you know, all the exciting things that are happening. If you take a look at some of the spaces that we’re looking at moving into, there’s literally indoor climbing gyms, indoor volleyball, gyms, lots of breweries, and just this exciting cultural thing for the millennials that I think makes it a lot of fun as a place to grow

Evan Kirstel 42:32
a business by cultural thing. Do you mean recreational marijuana? Or is there another cultural thing you’re referring?

Brett Shockley 42:39
That’s one of many, I guess, one of many I see I prefer the craft beers myself.

Dave Michels 42:44
A little more emphasis on the wicked than the smart there. But But anyway, I got to wrap up with a personal question. Are you still writing your unicycle? And more importantly, are you still performing

Evan Kirstel 42:54
at Dave not just a unicycle a 50 foot unicycle.

Brett Shockley 42:59
So many people probably don’t know this story. But when I was 17 years old, I set the world record for the world’s tallest unicycle, which is 50 feet high. But I’ll share a part of the story I probably haven’t told you. And that’s that when you’re 17 you don’t know that, that something’s impossible. And so not only did it ride the 50 foot unicycle, but I sold the gig and built the unicycle hired the cranes set the world record in a two week period of time.

Evan Kirstel 43:22
So that’s good project management. That is excellent project management. Yeah,

Brett Shockley 43:26
it’s like being an entrepreneur in the contact center space. As far as today goes, I still ride the unicycles I don’t perform professionally anymore. Although I, Steve Wozniak and I did a little routine on the stage at Avaya a few years ago. I do have an electric unicycle now. And I do have a an electric one wheel that I use from time to time, so I’m still playing around.

Dave Michels 43:47
I like those one wheels. You talked about the one little play skateboard out of Santa Cruz. Yeah, yeah, I would definitely get one of those if I thought I wouldn’t kill myself on it, but I’ve been really impressed with it.

Brett Shockley 43:57
They’re really easy to ride. It’s the stopping That’s hard.

Evan Kirstel 44:00
Dave I’m gonna buy you a 50 foot unicycle for your birthday. Don’t worry.

Dave Michels 44:04
You know you’re so good at getting something out. Never by myself. I have to you can hang it on the wall if you can’t ride it. big wall. Very big wall. Well, it’s been great bread. I really enjoyed this conversation. I’m so excited about journey and I’m when you get that new office, I want to come down and enjoy some Colorado beers with you.

Evan Kirstel 44:23
You’ll get the first craft beer briefing. All right. Well, Brett is truly the Oh gee of the contact center. The guy has spent decades in the industry. And looks like he has yet another successful venture on his

Dave Michels 44:38
hands. Would you say oh gee, you mean old guy,

Evan Kirstel 44:41
original gangster, the one of the godfathers of the contact.

Dave Michels 44:44
Oh, which is also the old guy. But it is great to have as you pointed out in the podcast, it’s great to have somebody on with us that knows a little more history than me which is, which is great, but it’s amazing what they’re doing. It’s such a neat thing that a new startup can apply all this new technology to an old game like that.

Evan Kirstel 45:00
And identity is kind of a secret trillion dollar market, it’s going to be key to all the payment apps, the gaming, the App Store apps in the future as identity becomes critical for security. So more of that’s going to come

Dave Michels 45:15
that’d be a great vertical identity protection for people with secret identities.

Evan Kirstel 45:18
Love it. Let’s go right to the CIA with that.

Dave Michels 45:21
All right, well, I’m not gonna say who our next guest is because we’re having a hell of a time scheduling right now, between your illness and some internet outages and some other things. Our next guest will be somebody very interesting. That’s all I’m gonna say. Indeed.

Evan Kirstel 45:32
We’ll talk to that person soon. You gotta have a conversation. Man. You gotta get out of here. No man knows me.

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