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Alexander Tilkin: Poor Compliance can Harm not Only our Customers’ Data, but Their Customers too!

He’s not only an expert in the field of compliance, he’s a customer of ours too. Alexander Tilkin, brings a wealth of experience, from being a lecturer in computer science to being the CO-founder and CTO of Complyt, he’s a specialist in the field of security of compliance, with a background in the domains of computer and network security, VR, telecommunications, and signal processing for the past eight years.

Alex breaks down the crossover between tax and compliance and how they rely on each other, you cannot have one without the other, he also sheds light on how Scytale were able to help streamline their compliance journey and allow them to focus on other pressing issues.


Kyle Morris: Alex Tilkin:

So welcome everyone to another episode of Comply or Die. I’m Kyle, your friendly host and senior manager in Compliance Success at Scytale.  Today we’ll be going through some exciting stuff, and we’ve got a newbie on the show today, but someone that’s a real special guest of ours today.  

So a very warm welcome to everyone that’s with us today, and thank you for joining another episode. Today we’ve got Alexander Tilken from Complyt.  Maybe a little background from outside first. 

So Alex has worked in the domains of computer and network security, VR,  telecommunications and signal processing.  For the past eight years he’s also been a lecturer in computer science in Tel Aviv and Israel, and currently he’s a CO-founder and CTO at Complyt.  So Alex, a huge honor, and really thank you so much for joining us today and for being on the show.  

Alex Tilkin: First of all thank you for having me here. I highly appreciate that. Thank you for taking the time to have a discussion with me, and you know it’s always interesting and pleasant to have an interesting discussion with interesting people.

Kyle Morris: 

So, then jumping into maybe a few questions. What got the passion going and got you into software engineering to begin with?  

Alex Tilkin:

Yeah, I was always, as a child, always good with disassembling and assembling stuff. I just decided to try the software engineering even though I never had any experience with programming. Let’s try and see how it goes. Yeah, the first like year was very rough, especially to someone who doesn’t have any experience with programming.

But after you know you work hard, you know you dedicate hours and hours and days, and then you catch up, and you know the more you invest, the funner it gets you know.  

Kyle Morris: Absolutely and one thing that I wish I could resonate with there you said you were you really enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together.

I myself quite enjoy taking things apart, but I hate to say they never quite went back to the same way I took them apart.  So maybe that’s why we didn’t end up on the same career path, so that makes sense.  

And Alex, I mean you’re working as a CTO, so there’s a tech side there’s a software engineering side but you obviously with Complyt itself they focus on tax compliance. So how does that role differ from a typical CTO role? What’s different or special about that?

Alex Tilkin:

Look it’s a very good it’s a fair question. Lucky that I have an amazing partner who is a lawyer and an accountant in his profession.  So our work is quite well you know like I call it like we have a synergy. We invest a lot of effort and thinking in the technology that drives the product.  On the other hand, we have a great we have a great experience from the tax compliance and like financial aspects, and we managed to combine them quite well.

Of course, you know like as every project every you know like sports team everything it requires you know like improvement and good communication, and you know like it’s a work in cycles.  But my education, although I did my two first degrees in software engineering then computer science, but then I had you know like I graduated from the masters and then like I got an offer to do a PhD there and there and then I don’t know I just asked myself like hold on I’m in the industry I’m not aiming myself to be a professor.

So I think like business school can add me a great value here. Yeah, so then I went to a business school, and then you know like I then I realized then I saw wow it’s huge world of like business you know like there was a huge aspect in that I should also address, and it helps me a lot to understand the needs of our customers. 

We have amazing product management team we have amazing you know sales and marketing they do an amazing job but my role as a CTO as I see it is that way. So first of all you know like you need to listen to the business needs and to find the best solutions that will create a strategic advantage in the market for your product.

This is how I define the role of the CTO right and on the other hand you know it finds you find the role of the CDO more in the business side more when it comes to you know like strategic discussions with in the board when you discuss like what customers to address what segments to and what segments to address or like in what features should we invest time and the resources.

Kyle Morris: 

Yeah, okay and Alex like you said there are a lot of factors that obviously play into it, there are a lot of different decisions and different parties that you need to involve so maybe jumping into something where you are right now with the process and talking a little about a little more about compliance specifically.

So how did Complyt go about identifying this need that you needed to get compliant with the framework and where you act with that right now?  

Alex Tilkin: 

Right so look we the thing is that our product is it’s not that we’re dealing with our customers sensitively we’re dealing with our customer’s sensitive data and this is something that if we have a security breach that we might not only harm our business but to harm our customer services.

That being said, I think it’s like you know it well it’s you know it’s well understood that our mind is fully dedicated to security, high availability and privacy, all what’s bothering or not bothering or not bothering our customers, but this is our one of our leading goals always from since day one by the way.

Kyle Morris:

Okay and that transformation Alex obviously building the company up and focusing on that and now adding a specific compliance requirement that obviously ties into the day-to-day and how the business works, but what did it add in extra challenges has it allowed you to identify other focus areas in the business anything like that?

Alex Tilkin:

Of course, you know when you explore a big problem then you always find new small, I don’t like it’s like it’s like with everything new opportunities to improve our infrastructure in terms of performance availability of course security or like and how can we provide user experience for our customers in terms of in the instance like in our domain integration time it’s something that I didn’t know.

But in the ERPs market integration time for customers you know for onboarding customers is a major aspect because they take they can take weeks and even months, sometimes they integrate the part requires the customer to dedicate one or two engineers for this project, and it can be very tedious and expensive onboarding process and one of our main goals seems to provide a seamless easy and fast integration and to enable something like this it requires the engineering team and the product team to design a craft a state-of-the-art product.  

Kyle Morris: 

Absolutely and Alex we’ve touched a lot about product we’ve spoken about tax compliance we’ve spoken about security compliance do you see tax compliance and security compliance as two separate aspects of the business is there a large crossover, how do you deal with that as the CTO?

Alex Tilkin:

Let’s take tax and let’s put it like in a bigger I don’t know like in a bigger domain call it financials okay, and you cannot deal with finance without talking about security because it’s money you know and everybody wants to get to have money and some people want to have money, and you know in a not legal way so, and you know if you and you know like the financial data of a company, by default it’s a sensitive data, so I don’t know like think of a hacking team that managed to breach a production database of like someone’s system, and now it locked it, and you cannot do anything your business is shut down right. 

So this is why our product we are highly we are very aware of the fact that we are in the middle of an of the critical path of the finance team of our customer’s right, and we know that we deal with sensitive data so dealing with sensitive data without thinking about security it’s a very, very bad practice so back into your back to your questions yes you know you cannot talk about tax without talking about security.

Kyle Morris: 

Absolutely and Alex I mean you spoke a little bit about breaches and hacking risk and stuff like that now when you as Complyt obviously looked at it and the fact that the company is around today identified the sort of gap in the market what is that biggest challenge or the biggest challenges that are facing these companies when it comes to us tax compliance or financial compliance specifically?

Alex Tilkin:

It’s a very good it’s a fair question, first of all being up-to-date on the tax regulations, for instance we want your product, but our previous service provider made mistakes here and there and now we are exposed to you know like compliance you know you are in the United States, it’s a federal felony if it’s the correct word, it’s a federal offense, and you don’t want to be exposed to something like this.  

So, we provide this extra service and here comes like you know that the extra benefit the extra care that they start up can provide for customers that sometimes big companies they know, they just like it’s not that they can’t, but sometimes it’s not their focus you know like big companies, think of like a huge tank a huge tanker.  

Right, so to pivot this huge ship you need to you need to plan ahead you cannot just like rotate at like 100 like 90 degrees on 180 degrees it cannot do that like instantly you need to think you need to have a plan you need to have an approval from the ship commander, I don’t know but for a startup, you just like it’s like it’s a small boat you just like pivot and that’s it, and you’re there right, so this is an extra service, it’s an example right, but those are small it’s not small, but those are features that we provide to create, and we put one of our really like main goals is to create a golden standard for premium customer service you know let’s call it that way, so yeah. 

Kyle Morris: 

Amazing and I mean you spoke about keeping up to date and moving with the trends, and we obviously live in a very fast evolving and changing world. So if we think about the future, Alex, what are the sort of trends and developmental changes that you see going to shape the future for the space you’re in?

Alex Tilkin: 

Let’s start with like simple stuff you know for instance in the tax compliance world there are not enough you know open free services for everything is closed, and you need to go through a salesperson, and then they go through a bunch you go through a process, and it takes time from the moment that you want to use the product until you actually use it, so it’s very common in other industries you know like in I don’t know like what like AWS and Google and like Datadog and bold and whatever like product that you want to use so for instance.

If I want to try it or like you just log in you, sign up, and you have like for instance 30 days free trial, in the tax world it’s not like that, so there are other implications why it’s not like that, but we definitely we want to provide for our new customers a different experience for experiencing of using a tax calculation and the server and the cloud services, and also you know this is a regular feature but if you look for the long run you very tedious and expensive process. 

So you know everything done today automatically, and we’s definitely something that we look into this area, and it can be a very significant game changer for all the accountants that they need to handle with these tedious jobs, and it can really you know like think of a like I don’t want to I’m not comparing yes, its being too cocky here but think of like what you know like ChatGPT is doing for you know like for text writing right it’s not like eliminated text technical writers or uh you know or writers, but it is writing everything just like we create everything you know we do it everything nicely, and then you can review our process and submit it and this is how you like uh you can save money moreover like for instance we can do interesting stuff we already have like discussed this different financial and strategic suggestions to see for instance to see level on what they can do in order to save money for the upcoming year and this is like you know like it’s not related to tax, but it has an implication to other sides of the business that can have value from what we do. 

Kyle Morris: 

Okay Alex you mentioned a lot there about automation and where the futures are and what tools exist and like you said it gets rid of that tedious manual inaccurate process it’s faster it’s better no one wants to do those sorts of things and as long as I suppose you’ve made the right considerations during that process and journey it will ultimately just result in better technology and better organizations how they work so that was very insightful thank you and Alex let’s let’s look at another aspect here. So, a key part of your resume of course is the lecturer inside, so you obviously love the educational the teaching part so anyone listening to this podcast today that is considering a future or a career remotely related to what you’ve been doing what sort of guidance would you give them? 

Alex Tilkin:

I’ll tell you what guided me okay and if it works for someone else then maybe he can listen to it or not. I don’t know my way of how I look at my life and what I see how what works for me is that i everything that I do I try to do it the best that I can right, and I am really honest with myself.

For instance if you are a CTO then I ask myself like how can I be like the best CTO in the world like, what is it that Tal needs from me, Tal is like my partner the CEO and what he needs from me today to do in order for him to do is the to elevate his uh success okay because this is what I should do right, and when I home like how can I be like the best husband that I can, and you know when I was a student you know I always ask myself like what should I do now in order to land my first job right.

You know and there are no failures right, it depends like on your approach like you know um if you didn’t get the promotion or like you want you were not accepted for instance you didn’t land the job, it doesn’t mean, I saw an interesting post on LinkedIn like last week when someone in a press conference, an NBA player was asked like by someone like does he consider this season a failure, and he asked like you know like Michael Jordan has like six championships does it mean he was the failure nine times because he played 15 years. 

You know you always get improved you always try you always, and I try to succeed, but you won’t always succeed, but you need to learn from what you do and okay, and you say okay yeah I didn’t do it good enough, where can I improve and as long as you keep yourself on track and you will.

Kyle Morris: 

Great words of wisdom, Alex, thank you.

Alex Tilkin:

Yeah, and focus.

Kyle Morris: 

That’s the goal, keep the goal in mind no time to be mediocre, take the learnings not the failures yeah, now I’m ready to follow the path of Mr. CTO himself.

Alex it’s been great, and thank you very much for your time today to chat, I want to give you an opportunity if there is any final closing remarks anything you’d like to add?

Alex Tilkin:

Thank you for your time, it was a very pleasant experience 

Kyle Morris: 

Amazing thank you so much for being on the show with us today Alex, for sharing your insights and good luck with the role, good luck in delivering that value elevating that that support to Tal, and we look forward to watching the business grow from success to success.

Alex Tilkin:

Yeah, thank you, Kyle, thank you for your time. 

Kyle Morris:

Thanks, Alex.