Interviews | 5 min read

Privacy Inside 🛡️-  Interview Josef Trauner, Usersnap

In the #PrivacyMatters series, Privacy Radius interviews people who are working at the forefront of customer privacy, data protection or compliance at leading SaaS or privacy-first companies. No matter if they are privacy expert, product owner, geek, innovator; for all of them #PrivacyMatters!

In this instalment, we are delighted to interview Josef Trauner from Usersnap in San Francisco. Usersnap helps digital businesses to get feedback, track issues and create successful products. Companies like Google, Facebook, Dow Jones, and Microsoft trust Usersnap to get actionable insights.

Privacy by Design focus at Usersnap

What is your background?

I have a Master in computer science and while I was a student I started my first freelancing business. Since then I’m a happy entrepreneur. I believe technology is a way to make life easier and better.

Josef Trauner - Head of Product Development @ Usersnap values Privacy first mindset
Josef Trauner - Head of Product Development @ Usersnap

How did you end up co-founding Usersnap?

I was working with my co-founder on a large substantial internet application project and there we discovered the importance to listen to the users in order to understand their pains and build the right things. That was the point where Usersnap started.

How would you define your role?

I’m responsible for the team building the technical part of the product, meaning research and development, and all the technology needed to run our product.

The Team


Do you have a separate privacy/data protection people in your team?

No, we do not have a separate privacy and data controller in the team but we work hard to ensure everyone in the team is aware of data privacy and commits to it on all their daily roles and jobs.

What are the daily tools that you use with your team?

Slack, Gmail, Confluence, 1Password, Intercom.

What is key to privacy at Usersnap? Any challenges? Pitfalls?

We are a cloud product and we are also using other cloud products. That means the team has to be aware that the data is never stored just in one place and if we have to delete data for a user we have to really check it’s been deleted everywhere.

That also applies when we add or remove cloud services, we really need to ensure they have the same data protection standards as we have.

If you had the chance to start from scratch with Usersnap, what would you have done differently to prepare for new privacy regulations?

Data Privacy by design - if you start with a new product or solution and you think from the beginning on where to store the data, how to delete it, how do I know where the data stays and for how long… etc. I think data privacy can easily be achieved.

What are the biggest mistakes you see other companies make?

I think one of the biggest mistakes is that some companies did nothing for data privacy in the past and now they either completely ignore it, or the other way round they fear nothing is allowed anymore - which is absolutely not true. You can still run a good business - so panic is not the right way to solve privacy matters.

Privacy metrics

What metrics do you care most about in your role?

Privacy by design - when you build something from scratch or you rework something, try to store the minimum amount of data you need and be prepared to delete it.

What metrics are most important for you to define privacy success?

Our most important goal is to always keep our customers happy and offer them an answer to their privacy concerns.

What had the most impact on these metrics?

Listen to the customers - when they have fears and questions you just have to listen to them and at least try to solve them. You can never solve all concerns but as long as you listen and try to do your best, the customers are satisfied most of the time.Usersnap - client references

Challenges

What’s the hardest part of managing privacy for global platforms like Usersnap?

In a SaaS business you are, most of the time, also using other SaaS tools and services, and you have to ensure that your partners also care as much about privacy.

Usersnap - customers

Are data breaches the new norm? What's your viewpoint?

No, I don’t think so, but in general, I think a bit of good advice is to just think: “what if we are permanently attacked?” - when you have solutions to how to handle such situations you are well prepared. For example, imagine different security mechanisms so if one breaks you still have other security walls which prevent further damages. In the past, people thought a strong password is enough. I don’t think you can simply trust in a strong password.

Inspiration

Which companies do you admire for their privacy approach and why?

Atlassian. They already have a huge running business yet on top of that they really try to build good privacy solutions for their customers. So basically that’s a huge investment in their customers where they don’t directly benefit from.

How do you manage privacy and compliance? Any (SaaS) PrivacyTech you use?

I think there should be an “easy-to-start” SaaS solution out there which helps small companies to be compliant without hiring a huge law firm. It should be easy to set up.

What’s the hardest thing about defining a customer privacy framework? Are there any significant differences with other platforms?

I don’t think so, the good thing about SaaS, from a privacy perspective, is that most of the frameworks are structured the same. Most SaaS are using cloud providers and other SaaS tools, that means one consistent way of doing business.

What (saas) product(s) couldn’t you miss for all the money in the world?

I really like AWS although it’s not a real SaaS provider it’s more like the foundation of SaaS, I think with the services AWS provides nowadays it’s amazingly easy to start small and grow to a huge company.

How do you get inspired? Who inspires you?

I’m reading lots of books and also exchanging ideas with other founders who have more or less the same company size or a little bit bigger. It’s great to talk to people who face similar challenges.

two coffee lattes in yellow cup with saucer on brown wooden table
Photographer: Toa Heftiba | Source: Unsplash

Future

What’s next for customer privacy at Usersnap?

We try to evaluate the first year of the GDPR and derive actions out of that. What went good, what bad, how others acted on issues... etc.

What should we expect in 2019 regarding privacy or data protection?

I think it’s in a kind of cool down phase, last year was a huge pansy mood but I think companies now see that you still can make business and the world is not crashed.

How will customer privacy change over the next ten years?

I think it’s now more “standard” to think of customer privacy or data privacy which is a great achievement for the customers.

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Thanks for your time during your busy travel schedule and great insights Josef!

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