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Data-driven decision making for a more efficient society

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BiggerDecisions (Data-driven decision making for a more efficient society)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-03-31

Cybernetica is an Estonian SME developing and selling mission-critical e-government, information security, radio communications and surveillance software products and systems. Since its founding in 1997, it has brought several security technologies from fundamental research to the market.

Sharemind is a product in development at Cybernetica’s Department of Privacy Technologies. Work on Sharemind started as a research effort in 2007 and, since then, it has moved from research to technology validation to business modelling to a separate business line in Cybernetica.

More specifically, in 2016, Cybernetica conducted the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 1 project BigDecisions, which resulted in a business plan for the commercialisation of the Sharemind technology. In early 2017, Cybernetica formed the Department of Privacy Technologies with the goal of commercialising Sharemind and ensuring the growth fitting its global potential.
In September 2017, Cybernetica started performing the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 project BiggerDecisions, which is intended to execute the business plan from the BigDecisions project. The goal of project is to close the gaps between technology and the market.

In the current project, we are focusing on activities that are needed for a large-scale international deployment of Sharemind:
1. Our focus is to attract more customers and resellers to Sharemind. We will start by approaching fintech and biotech customers and resellers in EU countries, but also Switzerland and UK. We will then gradually increase our target markets as we grow.
2. Our growth strategy is to form partnerships with resellers who will be eventually responsible for application development. However, we will perform selected integration projects on our own to get the best references and support product promotion.
3. We will make Sharemind more accessible and easier to use for our customers by:
1. Developing a direct-to-customer cloud service that allows users to set up cloud-based Sharemind installations for smaller data volumes and simpler applications nearly automatically.
2. Building integrations with various enterprise database and query systems (e.g. in the Hadoop ecosystem). This will enhance our value proposition to large customers who need interoperability between new software systems and their existing infrastructure.
4. We will reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Sharemind technology by optimising the Sharemind to work faster on customer workflows.
5. We will create a Privacy Guarantee for Sharemind that sets us apart from the competition. If our customers deploy Sharemind as intended, we can assure compliance with data protection regulations.

We prepared marketing collateral, formed dedicated sales team, were in direct contact with hundreds of organisations, ran online campaigns, demonstrated our offerings in the industry events and conferences, published press releases and articles, initiated partner program and managed to find number of resellers and partners that use our technology for their projects.

We developed direct-to-customer cloud service where customers can use complex privacy preserving technology by means of a simple and intuitive tool that resembles the environment customers use every day. We developed privacy-aware user interfaces for various uses and added functionality to our statistical analysis tool Rmind based on marked demand. We integrated our technology to Hadoop Distributed File System and PostgreSQL, added remote logging capability to give the opportunity for our customers more easily integrate the technology to its ecosystem. All this simplifies the delivery and use of Sharemind remarkably and hopefully attracts more customers to use our technology as implementation and deployment of such systems becomes cheaper.

We are particularly proud of our new Sharemind Hardware Isolation (Sharemind HI) product line, which was developed during the project. Sharemind HI is a revolutionary technological solution which is a development platform for building privacy- preserving applications. We believe it gives us competitive advantage for many years to come as Sharemind HI is remarkably faster than Sharemind MPC or any other similar tool on the market and thus enables us to run such project quicker and cheaper.
Also, we solved many optimisation tasks initiated by our customer requests and implement a solution for Sharemind MPC.

We implemented user level access control to Sharemind MPC, add a remote query monitoring and audit mechanism to both our platforms, implement record-level privacy budgets using principals of differential privacy. This gives serious addition to the security controls set of our platforms.

Finally, we prepared a business plan for the future and are continuing or mission to gives companies, governments, doctors and researchers access to data that have either been inaccessible or have required great effort to gain access to. We believe that Sharemind gives new insights that can be used for making decisions, improving productivity, optimising marketing, developing new products and services, and implementing new business models.
The BiggerDecisions project was planned with the following impacts

Customer impacts
• Productivity improved by 10% on average
This impact was expected for public sector services. Uptake in that sector has been slow, but for the few cases in negotiations, cost savings are a driving factor.
• Implementation of new business models
Nearly all customers are looking at Sharemind for new disruptive business models that they or their competitors haven’t been able to offer yet. This impact is already happening.
• Reduced GDPR compliance cost and lower risk of penalties
Here, the impact is partial. Alternative techniques for GDPR compliance (finding legal loopholes, using inferior privacy technology) is currently still cheaper. For current customers, the goal instead is to use the best security technology to achieve the GDPR spirit, not just the letter.
• Attained operational goals (e.g. reduced tax fraud)
Work is in progress towards that goal in several partnerships.
• New scientific discoveries
Work is in progress towards that goal in several partnerships.
Impacts on Cybernetica
• Increased revenues
We expect to see the first significant revenue increases in 2019 when the first significant licensing deals and solution projects are signed.
• Increased jobs
We have grown the team and expect to continue this. Hiring in IT has become more complicated in Estonia due to the great success of several IT start-up companies in the region.
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