On the Road with Paul Zikopoulos

I do a lot of things. I’m a professional speaker, a published author, and a Vice President at IBM running a BigData and Analytics division (you can check me out on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @BigData_paulz if you’re into this stuff). You do a lot of things. When you are done reading this blog posting, we both will still be doing a lot of things.

As part of my job, I travel every week to visit clients all over the world. Sometimes I think it’s hard on the family, but other times I think it helps my marriage (my wife sometimes packs a bag for me and yields a somewhat disappointed look every now and again for the odd week I don’t travel). The schedule makes it hard to keep on top of some things, but it also makes me stop and take timeouts to regroup; so it’s not uncommon for me to yank my kid Chloë out of school and take her on a ski day or an experience trip out of country. It’s a sliding scale to juggle incredible demands on time, sometimes I fail and sometimes I’m a model citizen.

Speaking of failure: Have you ever seen stats on the amount of time and money spent by IT Departments across all industries on password management in the enterprise? Jaw dropping. Surprisingly, the IT division at my house has the same issue; emergency calls at 2:00am China time because of password issues logging into Minecraft was a recent Sev-1 problem escalated from L1 support (my wife) for a panicking client - my kid Chloë. (One interesting stats for the IT Paul Z support team is outgoing calls to my clients - family - since the addition of caller ID results in less answered calls, but that's another post).

I fail at a lot of things, but one thing I seldom fail at is handling passwords and ensuring that key information is always with me. That’s because I use DataVault and I love it. I first found these folks when I was looking for a password management system that would work with a Blackberry (yes I know... I know... but I am Canadian) and my home Mac system. They were the only game in town that really worked, and boy, am I ever glad I found them! Of course both DataVault and I have grown up (them adding new features … love the DropBox sync; and I am now into an Android platform). I literally have hundreds of web sites where I need to track of my credentials, dozens of loyalty cards, personal information, credit cards, bank accounts and it’s all secure, synchronized across devices, and easily searchable from any endpoint.

While I won't share with you the number of times my wife or kid forget a password, I bet at this point you can guess where it’s all stored? And since the information is synchronized across all our family’s devices, it’s always up to date... wherever I am in the world. There is another super important safety aspect to using DataVault. If there was an emergency, my wife could go through all the DataVault entries and figure out anything that she needs if I am not around (wood knock): an account with holdings, how to get to my company’s stock plan. DataVault started out as a convenience for our lives, but it's now part of our emergency planning protocol. I’m not sure if anyone has ever seen a product like this for that use... but this is a phenomenal use case for spouses. I know first hand because I had to deal with an IBM employee tragedy and their spouse was completely out of the loop.

I can’t tell you how many times DataVault has saved me. Forgot a credit card? Doing a Google search in front of the merchant on my name and giving them the information from DataVault has never failed. I even crossed the US border without my Nexus pass or ID (hey, if you travel like I do, it is bound to happen) because I could instantly pull up all the details of my Nexus information and Passport at border control. I don’t make of a habit of that, but DataVault is a survival tool for me.

It's not just super sensitive information we use it for. How many Dads know their kid's shoe size (or can keep up with it for a 10 year old)? I do, because my kid's height, weight, shoe size, shirt size, and so on are updated by my wife whenever they change and I get them automatically. How many people know their wife's size when shopping for that never-fail Pandora gift for Valentine's Day (ring size obviously: I'm told that even the incredible security of DataVault is no place to record a spouse's weight or age... some things should not be recorded).

So that’s me and my DataVault. My mind races on new features that I would love to have. Like putting photos into the Notes section; an image that for ID? Or being able to have schemas. Imagine having DataVault – Family Edition (or Team Edition) so my kid can get her passwords but not my credit card (perhaps I would exclude my wife too … just kidding!).

Knowing that this data is fully secure, retrievable and searchable in so many ways has given me the confidence to not care about these kind of things in my hectic life. DataVault let's me focus on more important things... like getting a good night's sleep while on business in China.

Reprinted with permission from Paul's LinkedIn Blog.

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