Wynyard CEO applies Coca Cola lessons to crime fighting, war on terror

Today, Craig Richardson is CEO of Wynyard Group, a maker of software used by private companies, police forces around the world.

Earlier, he was CFO of Coca Cola Amatil NZ.

On the face of things, you couldn't have two more different careers than working for a company pushing fizzy drink, and one selling data analysis systems designed to help counter-terrorism, disrupt trans-national crime, build cases in violent crime and untangle complex white-collar crime.

Speaking to NBR ONLINE during a break at the Morgo 2013 entrepreneurs conference in Queenstown last week, Mr Richardson said there are in fact common threads between the two roles - and strong ones.

"Big brands and FMCG [fast moving consumer goods makers] spend billions each year collecting and analysing data to create a 'consumption triangle' that connects targeted consumers and products at a location that results in a purchase," the Wynyard boss said.

"Law enforcement agencies now have an opportunity to use similar methods and software to reduce crime by ensuring vulnerable citizens and repeat offenders don't connect in a common location forming  'crime triangle' that creates and opportunity for an incident to occur. 

"Finding the right balance between privacy and security is  a debate I expect will continue for some time, but I believe citizens should be more concerned about companies who share our data without any oversight or governance than governments who are subject to governance, rules, regulations and constant review to ensure they comply with privacy laws."

Mr Richardson saw a second theme, which centres on the around the changing criminal environment. This time it's unrelated to FMCG:

"With old crimes there is often one offender, one victim and one location. If one of these factors can be removed from the equation through prevention first policing there is less chance of an offence occurring and the approach is generally be victim centric. We have seen the direct results of using technology and these smart policing practices in falling domestic crime statistics," he said.

"With new cyber crimes however, the game has changed. Now one teenager in a garage on the other side of the world potentially has access to billions of vulnerable Internet users and billions of Internet connections or on-line locations. It's difficult if not impossible for domestic agencies to reach offenders across borders and there are too many potential victims and on-line locations to take a victim centric approach."

So how do you prevent cyber crime in this new environment?

"You need to take a crime centric rather than a victim centric approach, and that’s where three mission critical cycles of managing risk, surfacing intelligence from data and investigating the crime must be connected. It is going to be virtually impossible to stop cyber crime as we have old crimes, so the focus is on disrupting it," the CEO says.

"What Wynyard are focused on is  software tools to fight old crimes more efficiently by removing the offender, victim or location, and software tools to fight new crimes more effectively by disrupting the crime."

Wynyard raised $65 million when it listed on July 19.

Its shares [NZX:WYN] closed Friday at $1.22, valuing the company at just over $125 million.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz