It was the mid-1990's and no one knew what CRM stood for -- which was tough for a guy in a new software startup trying to explain to my prospects the value of a 360-degree view of their customers. But now I have a bit more confidence (and less hair) than I did back then. My confidence is driven by many factors but none more than the success of Salesforce.com in the CRM space that is now valued (as of this writing) at close to $90 Billion and revenues for this past fiscal year at over $10 Billion. In the late 90's CRM was the fastest growing segment in the tech sector, even among all of the DOT COMs.
Fast forward 20 years and I find myself in a similar place, a different sector within Public Safety, but history is repeating itself none-the-less. The value of OSINT for some can be difficult to understand at first, but we are starting to see companies just "get it". Unfortunately, the primary driver of this understanding can be what we see on the news lately e.g., with the Parkland School Shooter posting his intent ahead of time on Social Media but we are finding such broad-based value for the tools and platforms that comprise this space -- how about this headline from theverge.com just this past February regarding data leaks:
"Apple Intern reportedly leaked iPhone source code"
or this headline regarding a hack of Morgan Stanley not too long ago:
“The recent Morgan Stanley breach of 1,200 records belonging to wealth management clients came to light after a posting on Pastebin
and finally this headline regarding the sale of counterfeit goods:
“Study reveals the prevalence of fake luxury goods on Instagram, and the evolving tactics of counterfeiters”
Beyond the confines of Public Safety, OSINT is here to provide value for dozens of use/cases across just about any industry. We are seeing this empirically as well through a massive increase in activity and interest in our platform. But don't take my word for it alone. Let's look at what Google Trends has to say:
Here's the 5-year "trend" for the search OSINT on google:
You can see the acceleration in interest just in the past couple of years. Another way to see this is by comparing this segment to another staple of the physical security industry "Video Surveillance" which shows interest trending down slightly over the same time period -- a symptom of a more mature and possibly saturated market. So yes, my confidence is only increasing that history truly is repeating itself and it's exciting to be in a market that is starting to experience the kind of acceptance and growth that any startup company would envy.
Now I just need to figure out how to grow my hair back!