Technological advances have transformed countless industries, but what impact has it had on the verification industry? Blockchain, digital data and the prevalence of false information on social media may not be subjects you instantly think of when it comes to having professional documents verified, however the rise of these trends have played their own role in influencing the features of TrueProfile.io.
In the second part of our series with Sunil Kumar, CEO of the DataFlow Group, we talk all things tech, including blockchain, and the impact that digital advances have had on the document verification landscape.
CEO, The DataFlow Group
Stephanie McKee (SM)
SM: What changes have we seen within the verification industry in recent years?
In my opinion, the verification industry has not seen a huge technological change so far. Verifications are done – for the most part – in the same way, they were done fifteen years ago. The process looks like this: you send a request to the university, asking for documents to be verified. The university then opens these documents, checks the details are correct and then sends a response.
For the majority, this hasn’t changed. However, for some verification organisations, verification has gone digital and this is something that the DataFlow Group has been leading, so we are way ahead when it comes to the automation or digitisation of verifications. When I joined this industry three years ago, 45 days was the norm for document verification and people were happy to receive their verification in this amount of time as it was the standard back then. But over those three years, within our company, that time frame has been reduced by around 50%. This is because the need for digitisation has been realised – people are looking to hire employees as soon as possible and so the pressure is on the verification industry to find ways to verify people within a quicker time frame.
This doesn’t mean that we are less thorough, something I always say to the DataFlow Group’s clients is that there needs to be a balance between the quality and the turnaround time. the whole point of the verification is that it’s thorough and we find out all of the right things about each potential employee rather than putting an unrealistic time restraint on verifications and therefore compromising quality and accuracy. We certainly don’t want to leave any risk factors on the table.
That’s what’s most important, although verifications are becoming easier.
SM: Are they becoming easier due to technology?
Yes, due to technology coming into the picture. A lot of players are realising the need for digitisation and the whole world is too – the universities, the colleges, the employers, the never looked at verification as a necessity before. Verifications used to take a lot of time and giving feedback for verifications was often the last priority but they began to realise that failing to act quickly could mean that one of their alumni could lose an opportunity. Added pressure from applicants and their students helped to turn verifications around quicker.
To continue to enable them to do this, issuing authorities like schools, colleges and universities need to ensure that their processes are digital too. For example, is the data available in a digital format? If you go to the developed world then yes, you’ll find that the majority of the data is digitised. However, when you go to regions which are less developed like Asia and Africa, you will find that people are still dealing with the old ways of recording things in paper or analogue format so then when you ask for the verification this is a very manual, time-intensive process which involves physical files being stored and this information is located and checked.
We, the DataFlow Group, have been speaking to universities in places like Africa and Asia to discuss how we can help with digitisation. That’s where our tools like TrueProfile.io and DigiFlow come into the picture; with DigiFlow we are digitising the verification process ar university and college level and TrueProfile.io marks the creation of a people-centric service which allows users to present themselves as trusted candidates.
So, from a digitisation or technology process then yes, digitisation is going to help the verification process – however, there’s a lot to be done by both universities and by companies like the Dataflow Group – it’s a two-way solution.
SM: What needs to be done in order to achieve complete digitisation?
Firstly you solve the input source where information comes from – for example, from universities, colleges or professional bodies – and secondly, you solve the output level where companies like DataFlow connect with employers and regulators technologically to make things faster.
SM: Does TrueProfile.io’s use of blockchain impact this in any way?
When you look at blockchain it is going to be the biggest threat to the verification industry and that is why the DataFlow Group is ahead of the game. Everyone is talking about blockchain – all financial information is going on the blockchain, all legal information is going on blockchain and all asset information like real estate is going on the blockchain. Therefore, it’s likely that your qualification and employment information will move onto the blockchain which can be used by a third party to validate your verification at any time. Some might then question why we would even need verification anymore if this is put into place. That’s why we’ve taken the step to initiate blockchain as the backbone of verifications and why we have the frontrunner advantage.
The whole concept of blockchain is that besides our verification sitting centrally on TrueProfile.io, we also expose it to the blockchain which, by virtue of its decentralised architecture is there to stay and therefore accessible beyond any constraints of a centralised organisation.
Of course, blockchain is a threat to the verification industry but I look at it differently. Yes, it will be a threat but this is the way that verification is going to be done in the future so it is just a case of moving with the technology and trends.
SM: We share so much information online on a daily basis, and Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, do you think applicants now are more open to providing their information than say, 20 years ago?
The current generation share a lot of information and are used to doing so, Social media plays a big role in this – but really, how authentic is social media? I have LinkedIn, I can simply update my profile to say that I am a NASA scientist and people would believe it. I’m sure I will start getting some interesting calls and will waste everyone’s time. That’s where I think that TrueProfile.io can make things better. TrueProfile.io can become a ‘trust-feeder’ for social media – the profile can be shared with anybody, but people will know it’s authentic, verified and that they can trust the accuracy of the information listed.
SM: It makes me think of Twitter and Instagram profiles which have the verified blue tick beside verified profiles
Yes, exactly. It’s also similar to Amazon or Souq – when it says the product is verified by them, you’re more confident that you’re getting the right thing. In the same way, we are fulfilling verifications. That’s where I feel TrueProfile.io will be very successful in the story because Millenials who are sharing their information want to make sure it’s transparent and they are more open to the idea. Saying that you have a professional profile which is authorised and verified is very good to have and will come in useful throughout your career.
This is the second interview of three that we have conducted with Sunil, we’ve posted the first interview below but make sure you check our blog and social media to ensure you see his final interview in this series.
Interview with Dataflow’s CEO, Sunil Kumar (Part 1 of 3): Global Migration Trends and PSV