Mimecast & Ataata: A TechComm match made in heaven

Today Mimecast announced it had bought Ataata, a cyber security training company. It’s a common sense acquisition for one of the leading cyber security companies, but from a technical communication perspective, it’s so much more.

Ataata provides short videos aimed at educating users about all aspects of cyber security. There’s lots of training companies who provide educational videos, but Ataata do so in a way that’s engaging and fun. Users love them. In fact they look forward to receiving the next one! Take a look at one and see for yourself.

Mimecast has been looking at how it can educate its users. We recognize that having the means to prevent threats from entering an organisation is only part of the solution. If you personally don’t fully engage in identifying where threats exist, you’re asking for trouble. In short, the weakest link is you.

I’ve been involved in projects at Mimecast looking at educating users about cyber security. We’ve embedded copy into the user interface to warn them about phishing attacks, and written white papers on steps companies can take to protect their data. It’s not just about using our cloud solution. This has been a focus of our CEO, Peter Bauer who’s been quoted as saying, “Our customers desperately need help training their human firewalls.”

It’s as a technical communicator that I’m interested in the Ataata acquisition. Our job is helping our users use our software, but achieving this is so much more than providing help. Mimecast recognizes the need to provide assistance where it’s needed most. Yes we provide online help, but we also provide embedded user assistance in the user interface.

This takes the form of text and video tutorials, but we’re also redesigning our user interfaces from the ground up. Gone are the dialogs with 20-30 fields and options, and in come wizard type dialogs with user friendly questions. By answering a few questions, we can identify the configuration a user needs, and set the options for them behind the scenes.

All this is designed to deflect support calls. Support calls cost money. End users spend time looking for content, and if they can’t find or understand the content, they contact our support staff. Whether it’s the cost to our users trying to complete a task, or our support staff dealing with queries, time is money. If we can prevent our users ringing us, it’s a win win solution.

This acquisition may not directly educate users in how to use our software, but the preemptive nature of Ataata’s solution means users should have less issues. The most expensive support call category involves data loss. Phishing, whaling, and impersonation attacks can take time (a lot of it) to recover from. Our software has solutions to prevent these attacks, but we want to provide another layer of protection.

In the ideal world, our cyber security solutions should never be needed. If we’re all vigilant 100% of the time, companies like ours wouldn’t be needed. The fact that companies like ours exist, shows how delusional that view is. Having a multi faceted approach to protecting your data is the way ahead, and from a technical communication perspective there’s so much scope to integrate our content in a fun and engaging way.

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