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Client news

February 2018

  • 4 Strategies for Managing Successful Events in the Face of Adversity

    February 16, 2018

    The Best Preparations for the Worst Case Scenarios

    I don’t remember walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror, but lately we’ve had some tough karma when it comes to our client meetings. Faithful blog readers (that’s you, Mom!) may remember that we had a meeting back in September that we had to cancel due to Hurricane Irma. Well, six weeks later, that same client had a meeting in Barcelona the week of the Catalan secession vote and resulting unrest.  And now the same client has a meeting coming up in Cape Town, South Africa, where a water shortage is threatening to completely deplete the city’s water supply.

    So we’ve gotten pretty good at managing through adversity. Here are a few tips:

    1. Gordon Gekko was right. Thirty years ago in the movie Wall Street, the character of Gordon Gekko opined that “information is the most valuable commodity there is.” He’s never been more right than in the case of an event facing a challenge. Whether it was knowing the exact track of the storm in the case of Irma or understanding the impact of water restrictions in Cape Town, we had to learn first-hand the facts of the situation. Keep these two things in mind:
      1. Local sources are best. National and international news tends to generalize by region. In the case of Barcelona, areas of large scale protests were in the city center, with our hotel on the outskirts. It was the equivalent of being in Virginia when there is a large event on the National Mall in Washington—-you’re aware it’s happening, but it doesn’t have an impact. Locals understand the local impact.
      2. Situations change. In the case of Irma, we started the week thinking the storm would miss us entirely, but the track changed daily. Decisions that were sound one day had to be revisited the next. Check and recheck your information.
    2. Understand your insurance coverage. Have you read the fine print of your event insurance cancellation coverage? Understanding what’s covered and what’s not is a conversation that is best had with your broker when there isn’t an active crisis— and especially not when you’re in the midst of one.
    3. Rumors can start quickly, and questions take on a special urgency in a crisis situation. While everyone may be busy trying to fix things behind the scenes, remember that you can’t communicate enough with attendees, staff, stakeholders and vendors. Consider regular huddles, especially with the venue to identify issues, and communicate regularly with attendees via both email and social media.
    4. Safety first. There’s no substitute for good planning—this can mean everything from having flashlights in your bag to making sure you have your event team’s full contact information—and that those in the office do as well. You want to be able to easily reach people in an emergency.

    So how did this all turn out for us?

    In the case of Irma, we cancelled the meeting, but learned a ton. In Barcelona, we went forward and had no issues at all.  As for Cape Town, our current plans are to proceed forward, but we are alerting attendees about the water situation and making sure that we are utilizing sustainable practices.

    I can’t wait to see what our Tokyo meeting will hold— here’s hoping Godzilla doesn’t know we’re coming!

January 2018

  • Announcing Virtual, Inc. “2.0”

    January 29, 2018

    We’re Teaming Up To Help Clients Reach New Heights

    I have some exciting news to share with you about our company.

    I’m pleased to announce that Virtual has joined forces with two companies: Drohan Management Group (DMG)  of Washington, D.C., and Professional Credential Services (PCS, Inc.)  of Nashville, Tenn., to grow our resource base and enhance our service offerings to clients.

    This new company will combine our technology industry expertise with a broader set of resources in membership, meeting planning, and certification services to create a one-of-a-kind professional services firm geared toward making our clients successful.

    With offices in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Nashville —not to mention our presence in Silicon Valley—we’ll have more than 230 team members, making us one of the largest companies of our kind.

    As CEO of the expanded firm, I’ll be joined by Bill Drohan who will serve in the dual role of president of DMG and president of Virtual, Inc. Craig Paxson will lead PCS and serve as Virtual’s EVP of Service Delivery. Other members of the Virtual senior management, include COO Terry Lowney, CFO Sean Hainer, CTO Kathy Gallagher, EVP Don Kaiser, and EVP of Strategy Greg Kohn.

    We’re excited by the possibilities. From the beginning, we’ve been  bonded by our shared commitment to service excellence, curiosity, and unlocking potential. While core client services relationships will remain the same, we’ll provide a  wider range of resources and enhanced expertise in functional areas.

    To build this new enterprise, we have partnered with Striker Partners, a private equity firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Striker’s backing will enable us to continue to grow and invest in the best people and systems that our clients need to be successful.

    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or one of the senior team members at Virtual. Thank you as always for your ongoing support and partnership.

    We appreciate the opportunity to work with you.

  • NFC Forum Call For Entries; 2018 NFC Innovation Awards Open For Submissions

    January 17, 2018

    NFC Forum Call For Entries; 2018 NFC Innovation Awards Open For Submissions

    NFC Forum Invites Brands, Developers, Entrepreneurs and Startups to Submit their Groundbreaking NFC-Enabled Products, Services, and Experiences for Global Recognition

    WAKEFIELD, Mass., USA – Jan. 17, 2018 – The NFC Forum announced today a call for entries for the 2018 NFC Innovation Awards to recognize innovative Near Field Communication (NFC) products, services and experiences worldwide. Innovators, developers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and organizations using NFC in new, disruptive and pioneering ways can submit award entries showcasing their work for the chance to win in one of three award categories. There is no cost to enter the competition. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 2, 2018, and the award program is open to NFC Forum member and non-member companies or organizations. Systems integrators, agencies and media brands submitting on behalf of their clients may also enter the awards

    Winners will be announced at the NFC Innovation Award ceremony and reception held on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, co-located with the NFC Forum Members meeting at the Barbican Centre in London, England. A panel of global judges including well-respected journalists, analysts, and industry experts will select the finalists and winners based on innovation, benefits, user experience, and NFC impact. Finalists are invited to the award ceremony and receive two nights paid hotel room in London, an award trophy, global recognition and networking opportunities.

    The NFC Forum invites submissions from all industries and categories: smart homes; smart healthcare; customer-focused advertising, marketing, and branding; connected hospitality; smart retail; connected car; Internet of Things; “NFC for Good;” gaming; and transportation, among others. The NFC Innovation Award program will recognize the groundbreaking product, service or experience that features NFC modes including card emulation, peer-to-peer, and reader/writer use cases based on NFC Forum tags within the following three categories:

    • Best In-Market Implementation
    • Best Emerging Concept
    • NFC for Good

    Award Program Offers Networking Opportunities with Global NFC Leaders

    Entrants benefit from global media coverage and the opportunity to share ideas and forge relationships with luminaries from the world’s leading mobile device, semiconductor, payment, consumer electronics manufacturers, and solution providers. NFC Forum sponsors members include Apple, Dai Nippon Printing, Google, Infineon, Intel, Mastercard, NXP Semiconductors, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony, STMicroelectronics, and Visa. For more information and to enter, visit

    About the NFC Forum

    The NFC Forum ( was launched as a non-profit industry association in 2004 by leading mobile communications, semiconductor, and consumer electronics companies. The Forum’s mission is to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology. The Forum’s global member companies are currently developing specifications for a modular NFC device architecture, and protocols for interoperable data exchange and device-independent service delivery, device discovery, and device capability. Only member companies can participate in the Forum’s certification program of NFC devices, readers and tags. The NFC Forum’s Sponsor members, which hold seats on the Board of Directors, include leading players in key industries around the world. The Sponsor members are: Apple Inc., Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd., Google, Inc., Infineon, Intel, Mastercard Worldwide, NXP Semiconductors, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Corporation, STMicroelectronics, and Visa Inc.

    Follow the NFC Forum:

    Facebook  Google+   LinkedIn   Twitter    YouTube


  • Top Tech Trends Heading Into CES

    January 8, 2018

    I’m on my way to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. CES is always a good time to see the latest technologies, some B-list celebrities doing some demos and wait in some long cab lines.

    It’s also a good chance to start to think about the trends that will impact the coming year.

    There are no shortage of “2018 trends to watch” list from bloggers, magazines and various sources this week.  In reading them all, I notice some “trends amongst the trend lists” that are worth noting.

    Just about everybody had augmented reality at or near the top of their list. We’ve been fortunate to be involved with that technology through our client, the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance for a few years now. It really is game changing stuff at the enterprise level—yes, even cooler than Pokémon Go. No doubt, AR is the future of user manuals—where was it when I was putting my daughter’s IKEA furniture together?

    Blockchain is the next item on everyone’s list though everyone feels a bit like this cartoon:


    Once you have your “aha” moment with blockchain it is clear that the hype exists for good reason.  We’ve been working with a number of blockchain groups—notably the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and specialized groups such as the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance for a while now. I have no doubt that the potential of the technology far exceeds my ability to explain it to my mom (I lose her at “distributed ledger” every time).

    A third is cyber security—in so many forms.  I‘ve spent years at client meetings for groups such as the PCI Security Standards Council and SAFECode getting a sense of how real cyber threats are.  Technologies that balance user experience with security—such as the FIDO Alliance’s quest to drive security without passwords—will no doubt be of value this year.

    The fourth is IoT—such a broad topic that it increasingly encompasses everything. The trick is that taken with the last trend, IoT starts to present a raft of new opportunities for vulnerabilities. That’s why groups like TIOTA—the Trusted IoT Alliance, with whom we’ve been working for the last year—are so critical.

    And finally, there’s 5G.  If you don’t appreciate the importance of new generations of wireless networks, you haven’t traveled to a place recently where the little “3G” indicator lights up on your phone, and you suddenly grind to a halt.  5G will usher in endless possibilities for content and sharing, and no doubt new challenges as well. Meanwhile, we are working with groups like TIP, the Telecom Infra Project—that are bringing wireless technologies of all sorts to new parts of the world – an exciting and worthy venture.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to CES to do what I really love—checking out the new toys.


    *If you happen to be at CES, swing by the Alliances Community Reception On Wednesday, January 10th from 5-7. Virtual is a Platinum Sponsor of this event. Open to all CES attendees.


December 2017

  • Kantara International Privacy Summit Slated for January In London

    December 20, 2017

    Kantara International Privacy Summit Slated for January In London

     The Only Summit For Business Leaders Focused on Privacy and Identity Standards

    WAKEFIELD, Mass., USA – December 20, 2017– To mark International Privacy and Data Protection Day, Kantara Initiative and partners have assembled a summit for business leaders where privacy law and standards experts will analyze the opportunities and risks of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) for businesses.


    Called the Kantara International Privacy Summit (KIPS), it is scheduled for January 29, 2018, 08:30 – 17:00 at IBM Client Centre, South Bank, London, SE1.  Participants at this first-of-its-kind event will have the exclusive opportunity to engage with privacy experts involved in drafting and interpreting the laws, policies and standards that are now being implemented in businesses across Europe. They will leave the summit with insights into how implementing the right standards is a key strategic business decision and can be used to build competitive advantage, avoid costly vendor lock-in and regulatory risk. Organizers of the event include Kantara Initiative, Open Consent, The Trust Bridge and AdUnity.


    “The Kantara International Privacy Summit provides the business-focused insight needed at the board-level to navigate the issues where standards for privacy and identity management can help exploit business opportunities and mitigate the business risks of GDPR and PSD2,” said Colin Wallis, executive director, Kantara Initiative.  “It is vital that executive management of any large enterprise is familiar with the available standards before embarking on costly GDPR compliance projects.  Attending KIPS will give them the knowledge and tools to meet this challenge.”



    About Kantara Initiative International Privacy Summit

    The KIPS agenda includes world-leading privacy standards experts such as Robin Wilton, of the Internet Society and internationally respected data privacy and governance thought leaders such as Bojana Bellamy, President at Centre for Information Policy Leadership (CIPL) and Chris Disspain from ICANN. Expert legal insight regarding data regulation and cyber law are provided by Dean Armstrong QC, author of Cyber Security: Law and Practice. The summit also offers a chance to hear the latest about responsible data driven marketing from Chris Combemale, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Representing the voice of privacy professionals, is Giles Watkins, UK Country Leader of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) among many others.


    The Kantara International Privacy Summit also includes advanced breakout sessions about Kantara privacy and identity management standards (including the recently updated Consent Receipt standard), marketing and media (consent vs legitimate interest vs performance of contract) as well as sovereign identity.


    About Kantara Initiative

    Kantara Initiative provides real-world innovation and development of specifications and conformity assessment programs for the digital identity and personal data ecosystems. Beyond its flagship eID-assisting Identity Assurance Trust Framework, developing initiatives including Identity Relationship Management, User Managed Access (EIC Award Winner for Innovation in Information Security 2014), Identities of Things, and the Consent Receipt, Kantara Initiative connects a global, open, and transparent leadership community, including CA Technologies,, Experian, ForgeRock, Internet Society, Nomura Research Institute, and SecureKey Technologies. More information is available at

    Follow Kantara Initiative on Twitter — @KantaraNews


    For further information:

    Kantara Initiative:

    Bob Olson, Virtual, Inc.


  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

    December 13, 2017

    We’re spreading some holiday cheer…Virtually!

    This video will surely bring you some glee,

    So grab your coffee or sip a beer,

    Take a seat as we share some holiday cheer.

    Here’s our Virtual holiday card,

    Wishing you happy holidays and our warmest regards!

    Interested in learning more about our wonderful company? Join our mailing list and follow us on social media – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

November 2017

  • iWelcome and Launch Kantara Initiative Consent Management Solutions Work Group

    November 27, 2017

    iWelcome and Launch Kantara Initiative Consent Management Solutions Work Group

    First Industry Group To Address Best Practices, Standards to Manage Consent and Privacy Policies During Customer Lifecycle Journey; GDPR, PSD2 Focus

    WAKEFIELD, Mass., USA – November 27, 2017 – iWelcome and announced today the launching of the Kantara Initiative Consent Management Solutions Work Group (CMS WG).  The goal of the CMS WG is to create the world’s first open, interoperable standards and certification to manage consent and privacy policies during the entire customer lifecycle journey.  The CMS WG addresses a need among organizations that collect personal information using individual consent for processing – particularly with an European focus on fulfilling General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) requirements.

    iWelcome and are leading the work group as part of the Kantara Initiative.  Other early members of CMS WG include Internet2 and Open Consent Group. Kantara members and non-member participants may join via the Group Participation Agreement.

    “In our digital world, consumer data are everywhere. Organisations have been misusing it and consumers have lost control over their data. Today, there is a fundamental change in handling consumer data, underpinned by new EU legislations as GDPR and Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2),” said Corné van Rooij, VP Product & Strategic Alliances, iWelcome.” These legislations are not simple ‘checkbox’ compliancy rules but fundamentally put consumers in control. Consumers will provide and maintain explicit consent and organisations must be able to handle this consent throughout their processes. This is referred to as Consent Lifecycle Management (CLM). To industrialize and scale the management of consent, the Kantara Consent Management Solutions Work Group was established. It is this Work Group’s ambition to provide the fundament for storing and exchanging customer consent across organisations and systems.”

    About Kantara’s Consent Management Solutions Work Group (CMS WG)
    CMS WG was created by the Kantara Initiative with the goal of providing more clarity and an industry-developed common practices guideline document around consent and privacy policies for use by organizations that manage and use large amounts of identity information and data.  The guidelines will be industry-vetted and lead to the formation of established standards and a certification program.

    These work group outputs will help organizations meet new stringent regulations around personal identity and privacy information.  In keeping with Kantara’s mission of an open, participatory industry association model, all organizations and individuals involved in the consent, identity and privacy are welcome to join the CMS WG.

    “Identities and personal data will become primarily digital in the future.  They will grow in value, importance and usability for both consumers and organizations,” said Julian Ranger, chairman,  “Kantara’s Consent Management Solutions Work Group will gather best practices, synthesize those into recommendations, develop requirements and create a possible Trust Marked certification.  The end result will be user protections ensuring consumer rights to their own data while also providing options for how to manage that data.”

    About Kantara Initiative
    Kantara Initiative provides real-world innovation and development of specifications and conformity assessment programs for the digital identity and personal data ecosystems. Beyond its flagship eID-assisting Identity Assurance Trust Framework, developing initiatives includingIdentity Relationship Management,User Managed Access (EIC Award Winner for Innovation in Information Security 2014),Identities of Things, and theConsent Receipt, Kantara Initiative connects a global, open, and transparent leadership community, including CA Technologies,, Experian, ForgeRock, Internet Society, Nomura Research Institute, and SecureKey Technologies. More information is available at
    Follow Kantara Initiative onTwitter — @KantaraNews


    For further information:

    Kantara Initiative:
    Bob Olson, Virtual, Inc.

  • General Data Protection Regulation Readiness

    November 20, 2017

    You may have heard about the upcoming European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will be going into effect on May 25, 2018. What is it about, what does it mean to you, and more importantly, what is Virtual doing to address compliance?

    The regulation applies to all organizations gathering, processing and holding the personal data of European Union citizens, regardless of the organization’s location. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. This data is not limited to banking information, medical information and address information. It also includes computer IP addresses, photos, email address, and even posts on social networking websites that can be used to directly or indirectly identify a person.

    Organizations may acquire this information through various methods.  Some is collected in website analytics, some is pulled from third party data sources, and some is even provided by the individual themselves. Regardless of how this information is obtained, the GDPR dictates new rules around user consent and greater rights for people to access and request deletion of the information organizations hold on them. It also contains requirements for mandatory security notifications. This is a serious matter, especially when considering that organizations will be jointly and separately liable for the data they handle and penalties for non-compliance will include fines of up to €20 million.

    We are now at T- minus 6 months to the effective date and a delay does not seem to be in the cards. We believe the organizations should take action and begin planning if they haven’t already.

    At Virtual, we are addressing GDPR compliance by focusing both on how we handle our own personal and analytical data as well as how we manage both for our clients. A key component in the compliance puzzle is third-party platforms. As such, we have been in discussions with our tools vendors and we are finding that we are a bit ahead of them.

    Here is what Virtual is doing to prepare for GDPR:

    • We are educating ourselves on the regulation and its impacts,
    • We have established an internal, multi-stakeholder task force to identify potential impacts and to determine our course of action,
    • We have compiled an inventory of tools our clients work with and are working with vendors to understand what they will be doing and when to ensure compliance,
    • We have identified clients who are at the most risk with this regulation and will be proactively reaching out to them,
    • We are looking at how we use data internally and how it could be impacted, and
    • Finally, we are consulting as necessary with privacy experts to aid in compliance activities.

    It’s not all doom and gloom though, the GDPR offers an opportunity for organizations to take an offensive approach on how they manage their data and the privacy of the people they interact with for the benefit for all parties involved before there is breach. We will be working hard to address GDPR as the compliance deadline looms closer. Stay tuned for more to come from us on this.

    In the meantime, the official PDF of the GDPR can be found here, organized by chapter and article: