Valerie Mercurio, InfoSum: “There is a better way for us to protect our customers”

“The reality is there is not one company out there that can do this alone.” 

As companies try to build for their futures and to service their customers, it’s important to remember that things will only work well if we have sustained collaborative efforts. In the ninth episode of the Identity Architects podcast our Vice President of Corporate Marketing Ben Cicchetti dove into identity, the InfoSum’s Women’s Network, data collaboration, partnerships and more with InfoSum Director of Business Development Valerie Mercurio.

Valerie broke down how she is building a business development team within InfoSum in order to help companies create more value from the data collaboration partnerships they can put together with one another. Companies on the cutting edge of technology and those who are a few years behind are joining forces to unlock the full value of their data. 

“People and clients who are really leaning into this new version of technology and clients who are really at the forefront of not being afraid to let go of legacy systems, and they're saying, hey, these systems work, and they worked great for a really long time.”

Building Relationships to Last

In the ecosystem that all advertisers, media owners, and other data collaboration partners operate, there is a need for companies to work together to ensure that they are maximizing the value of the data they have and to protect consumer data more than has been done in the past. Solving for this is one of the things that Valerie is most passionate about.

“From a partnership lens, the thing that I get really excited about and the thing that is most important, is truly building a connection across the board for scalable solutions.”

When putting together partnerships, Valerie said that she’s always focused on determining how to make sure that she helps each partner succeed by allowing them to take InfoSum’s technology and leverage it for a solution they’re working on: 

“We've been building this amazing technology for six or seven years already, and I think there's so much value to the security measures that we've been putting in place and the way that we've built the foundation… I am hyper focused on always making sure that there is a value exchange between two partners.” 

Assembling these partnerships isn’t always easy, so constant open communication is important. Valerie must determine whether there is a specific use case to solve for, and what the brands might be looking for. Valerie shares: 

“So when we're signing up, I tell everyone I suffer from realism and all of my partners have probably heard me say that it is so important to make sure that the value proposition is really clear. And so I think if I take a step back, partnerships are important because there's always that value proposition and that driver to help enhance a client's experience throughout.”

There’s Two Sides of Trust

Traditionally, we’ve seen companies approach partnerships and deals with a “can I trust them enough to do business with?” mentality. While it’s important to know that partners are on the level – especially when working with data – Valerie argues that it actually isn’t imperative to trust each other in order to successfully collaborate.

“I think there's two sides of trust, right? There's personal relationship building, we're going to be partners, because we're solving for x, y, z. And that trust is critical. Because without that there, it's really hard to build appropriate, scalable ecosystems. When it comes down to commercial trust and actually thinking about data assets. I would, I would kind of flip that and say we shouldn't trust each other. As we think about zero party trust, why should we trust each other with our most valuable assets – and that's our data.” 

Data assets are the lifeblood of modern businesses and as we live in a world in which we’ve seen data breaches reaching all-time highs in 2021 with more than five leaks per day, we must also protect that crucial asset. The non-movement of data approach to data collaboration that InfoSum pioneers the safety of consumer data and is future-looking with how we move forward with this ecosystem. 

“I think the biggest thing is, from a personal and a relationship standpoint, we have to have that trust together so we can deliver on what our clients are hoping to get. As far as data trust, zero party trust, we should not be sending our data everywhere, you truly lose that number one asset. And so I think in how we focus on overcoming that it's really around the solutions. It's about building the right solutions that solve for these challenges, and how we can be prepared together as an ecosystem.

Moving Beyond Trust to New Forms of Collaboration

As we are able to move past the traditional hurdles that dual-party trust arrangements presented, host Ben Cicchetti posed an interesting question to Valerie regarding what a zero-party trust future could look like, saying: “​​I think one of the things that I find exciting about this idea of overcoming the barriers that trust at any level can create is this idea that companies that would traditionally have been competitors, can actually collaborate and work together. What would that kind of collaborative collaboration look like?”

Just a few years ago when InfoSum was developing the ecosystem, these types of collaborations were not something that companies even thought to be possible. 

Valerie said of the prospect of major competitors joining forces for data collaboration efforts, “We've truly built a solution where clients can collaborate without ever wondering or worrying about their data assets touching, getting commingled, or getting leveraged in a way that they didn't want it to, and beyond the intended use case.” 

Affecting Change at InfoSum

One of Valerie’s other roles at InfoSum is chairing the InfoSum Women’s Network. The Women’s Network meets monthly and is open to the entire organization.

“I think it really has to be bigger than just the people who attend those meetings. And that's why I'm really focused on bringing in outside perspectives, and figuring out how we are actually impacting our communities as a network. I spend a lot of time thinking specifically on the partner side of where we are working, and it's very much so focused on how we expand the networks within the partners that we're focused on and representation across the ecosystem.”

InfoSum’s Women’s Network is always looking to bring in outside, new voices to deliver unique perspectives to the employees at InfoSum. 

Looking to the Future

Wrapping up the conversation and looking ahead to future episodes of the show, Valerie touched on something that is discussed often at InfoSum, which is how InfoSum works with all of our identity partners. Almost every company working with data partnerships now works with one or more identity partners, and it will be a pleasure to bring a future episode breaking down how the identity partners have been choosing to opt into the infosum ecosystem and build their own networks. Stay tuned for that episode!

Thank you Valerie for joining Identity Architects and we can’t wait to see zero-trust collaboration in action.