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Meet Sandra Serkes of Valora Technologies in Bedford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Serkes.

Sandra, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Valora started when its founders realized there was not a good way to “link” data from one area to another, even when the associations were readily apparent. We built a software engine to identify patterns in files and associate related information. There was an immediate need in the legal community where large document populations are the norm and there is an unending need to discover “who knew what when.”

Today we would call such terms “metadata” and the technology that identifies them “AutoClassification.” Originally providing our technological capabilities as an outsourced service, Valora today supports SaaS and cloud-based options in addition to outsourced services, as well as on premises product installations of PowerHouse and BlackCat, our flagship products.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road, but what is? Some obstacles we faced were erratic, project-based revenues, and the rise of competition. Any purely services-oriented company will face days of feast and days of famine, as the project work ebbs and flows.

That was one of the driving decisions towards productizing our capabilities and offering more round-the-clock and round-the-world offerings – to even out the demand and utilization. Today about 70% of our work is recurring in nature (rather than one-off), and that has made an incredible difference in our stability and ability to invest in our future.

The second obstacle that we were bound to face eventually was competition. Even the best technologies will eventually come under attack. First, we were hit with low-cost offshore labor as a potential competitive approach and later, other competing technologies. The solution to both was (and continues to be) to keep investing in the technology to make it stronger and more and more capable. Also, today our longstanding reputation has become a strong factor as we have “seen it all” when some newer entrants really haven’t.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Valora Technologies, Inc. story. Tell us more about the business.
Valora helps bring sanity to the chaos that is enterprise information. For far too long, organizations have been following a “save everything” mentality. This is not only sloppy and error-prone, but it’s dangerous. Data that is haphazardly saved and stored, whether in compliance with retention and data privacy policies or not, is ultimately fair game for litigation, investigation, and of course, hackers (breaches). Our software AutoClassifies enterprise content so that those responsible for its contents, typically Legal, Records, Compliance, etc., can know what they have, what it contains, where it should be stored – and how, for how long, and how and when to dispose of it properly. We are becoming a data-driven society. Proper data management is long overdue.

Valora is known for innovative and elegant solutions that utilize AutoClassification and AI business rules to organize and manage enterprise data. We pioneered the technique over 17 years ago and have been refining our craft ever since, today incorporating Machine Learning, cloud processing and storage, and other promising technologies.

As a company, we are most proud of the successes we have seen with our clients. There is nothing more flattering than hearing, “we couldn’t have done it without you!”

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There are a lot of changes happening right now in our industry.

First there is the consolidation of a number of related industries coming together as Information Governance. InfoGov is slowly subsuming the sub-industries of eDiscovery, Records & Information Management, Data Privacy, and Compliance. By combining forces and experience, the industry as a whole becomes smarter, better funded, and better equipped to deal with the unending onslaught of data, both that which we currently hold, plus what’s coming very soon from the Internet of Things (IoT).

Second, cloud adoption rates are blowing past all expectations. The cloud is going to be where we store our data and where we process and manage it, too, within the next 5 years. There is no such thing as ignoring cloud services anymore.

Third, like all industries, ours is benefiting greatly from the rise of AI, and Machine Learning, in particular. ML is well-suited for crunching large volumes of textual data (documents and files), and we see excellent success with our early forays. We at Valora will be incorporating much more ML and data-driven analysis, and I imagine others will be, too.

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