Three local companies that focus on employment software, cybersecurity and data analytics are finalists for Technology Company of the Year in the 2018 Tampa Bay Tech awards.
Geographic Solutions in Palm Harbor, KnowBe4 in Clearwater and Nielsen in Oldsmar are vying for top honors in the category, which recognizes a Tampa Bay-headquartered company committed to advancing the region’s technology community and able to demonstrate excellence in their people, programs and projects within their industry.
It’s one of a dozen categories for the awards program, with winners to be named Nov. 9 at an evening ceremony at Armature Works. Find out more about the ceremony here.
Highlighting innovative companies and their workers is one way to grow the area’s tech ecosystem, as other companies take notice and consider relocating or expanding in an area where there’s an abundance of talent to fill their needs.
This is the 15th year for the awards program from Tampa Bay Tech, Florida’s largest technology council.
Over the next several days, St. Pete Catalyst will profile the category finalists, based on their responses to questions posed by St. Pete Catalyst to help readers understand more about success stories in Tampa Bay, starting with the Technology of the Year finalists:
Geographic Solutions, which develops and implements online employment software for state and local government agencies. The company was founded in 1992 by Paul Toomey, who is president.
KnowBe4, which enables employees to make smarter security decisions through training and simulated phishing exercises. The company was founded in 2010 by Stu Sjouwerman, who is CEO.
Nielsen, which serves the media, advertising, retail and consumer goods industries through technology that measures audiences and retail performance. Arthur Nielsen Sr. founded AC Nielsen, the company now known as Nielsen in 1923. Nielsen operates in more than 100 countries, and much of the data is processed in its 20,000-square-foot data center in Oldsmar.
SP Catalyst: What’s the most inspiring feedback you’ve heard from customers?
Geographic Solutions: We routinely receive encouraging letters of recommendation from our clients with glowing reviews on how our software has helped job seekers connect with employers, improved service delivery at American Job Centers; and assisted with both regional and state-level reemployment efforts. We also receive positive and constructive feedback from the workforce staff who use our products on a day-to-day basis at our annual Workforce Technology Conference.
KnowBe4: The most impactful feedback that we receive is when [customers] tell us that their phish-prone percentage (the percentage of users likely to click on a phishing link) went down. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Here’s a recent example of feedback we received that stood out: “My organization just took part in a security assessment a week after purchasing your product. I only had time for one training/phishing campaign beforehand but our click rate went down from 50 percent to 25 percent and I fully credit the training module.”
Nielsen: In a world where big data has truly transformed the consumer packaged goods ecosystem, analyzing and interpreting data in real time and getting these insights into the hands of everyday decision makers enables them to make better decisions and be more profitable.
St. Pete Catalyst: What’s the next big thing you are working on?
Geographic Solutions: We have recently secured projects for the state of Pennsylvania and the state of Texas. Both of those projects are rather impressive in size and scope.
KnowBe4: The company is working on two new features that are cybersecurity industry firsts and utilize artificial intelligence (AI). They were created in direct response to customer feedback for deeper reporting and more insight into an organization’s risk as it relates to cybersecurity.
Nielsen: One of our top priorities is the Connected System, which will allow our retail and manufacturer clients to spot emerging trends, integrate data across multiple sources, diagnose performance gaps and act on opportunities. In addition, Nielsen is committed to measuring the total audience and innovating how we do it. Developing great campaigns and content in today’s complex media market starts with understanding the audience: who they are, what they like and how they interact with content – everywhere. We’re empowering media companies and advertisers to plan, activate and measure content and campaigns in the new media landscape.
St. Pete Catalyst: How many employees do you have right now and how many do you expect to add in the next year?
Geographic Solutions: We currently employ 309 individuals on a full-time basis. The addition of employees is based on the amount of client projects we are awarded. We are currently experiencing a high, but steady growth period in terms of projects. We currently have 31 positions that are posted and available for candidates to apply for. We hope to fill all open positions by the end of this year (December 31, 2018).
KnowBe4: We currently have 581 employees and plan to be at 1,600 employees in a year.
Nielsen: Operating in over 100 countries, Nielsen employs approximately 44,000 associates worldwide. [Local employment numbers were not immediately available.]