Who are the most innovative companies?

09.09.2020

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New kids on the block or old-timers?

People often think that hot new tech startups, with their promises to revolutionize ________ (fill in the blank with your current dream), are the primary drivers of innovation. I’m here to say that’s just not true.

The company I work for, Micro Focus, was a startup a few years back—well, more than 40 years ago, to be exact. I recently learned that Micro Focus has, and continues to grow, one of the world’s largest patent portfolios. In fact, multiple intellectual property publications have ranked the Micro Focus patent portfolio in the top 250 among all entities worldwide. When compared with other companies that produce only software (SAP, Adobe, Salesforce, and the like), the Micro Focus portfolio stands in the top 8.

So—what are some of the cool things that Micro Focus patents are enabling the world to do?

Making data more secure

A couple of our encryption patents support the usability of sensitive data in its protected form.

One patent eliminates most of the complexity, effort, and costs associated with deriving and managing encryption keys by making it possible to provide different access levels based on need. For example, one user can access a customer’s national ID or U.S. Social Security number with one encryption key and a second user can access that same customer’s bank account number using another key. In doing so, organizations can minimize their exposure to risk in the event of a security breach, be it from an internal or external source.

Another of our encryption patents allows for data format (length and character set) to be preserved when data is encrypted—making it easier for organizations to add data protection to existing data stores, or integrate encrypted data into other applications. This encryption method is so powerful that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends it as a NIST standard via Special Publication 800-38G.

Making AI smarter

Another patent held by Micro Focus uses machine learning to distinguish between a human and non-humans (such as programs) when analyzing computer logs. This automatic differentiation increases the accuracy of risk detection. For example, take a Windows Service account—a machine account that’s commonly targeted for takeovers. When that Service account starts to behave like a human, chances are good that it’s been hacked. Similarly, when a human account starts to behave like a machine, that’s a sign that the account has been taken over by a bot or malware.

Here’s another benefit of this machine learning patent: It can significantly reduce storage requirements for monitoring applications. Log data can be very large, so if the system is looking only for human-based events, it doesn’t have to store those events where the likelihood is low that a human is interacting with the computer—and vice versa. The benefit is better security and lower cost.

Modernizing COBOL

An estimated 80% of financial transactions use COBOL. But the language, first developed more than 60 years ago, requires that code be written in ways that are incompatible with modern architectures. A patent held by Micro Focus solves that problem and enables COBOL to perform correctly and efficiently on a wide variety of platforms, including Java bytecode and .NET. By modernizing COBOL, Micro Focus is helping ensure enterprises around the world can continue to rely on this ubiquitous programming language to run their mission-critical applications for many years to come.

What an extensive patent portfolio means for customers

With more than 1,800 patents granted, and another 900+ pending, Micro Focus is serious about investing in innovation—a track record further reinforced by more than 500 product releases in our last fiscal year alone. The breadth of our patent portfolio demonstrates three important things. The first is our commitment to continually evolving our product set to help our customers thrive. The second is our long-term vision (it takes two to four years to get a patent granted). And finally, it highlights our strength and viability. Customers can count on us being here for the long term—and that’s something start-ups just can’t claim.

So sure, Micro Focus may be a few decades past our startup years, but we’re still one of the cool kids on the block when it comes to innovation.

Make sure you visit our website to find out more about how our innovative products bridge between existing technologies and bleeding-edge digital transformation initiatives, and don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter if you’d like to talk directly.

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