“Shadow IT” threats posed by AI and remote working drive continuing growth at cyber security specialist

An award-winning cyber-security specialist has hit 30 per cent growth for the fifth year running as it embarks on further job creation and expansion.

Scott Clark (centre, left) and Leon McQuade with colleagues at Think Cloud in their new offices at The Deep Business Centre.

Think Cloud has recruited another six people in the last 12 months and almost doubled its footprint at The Deep Business Centre in Hull to house a growing team and support the launch of a new “Think Digital” service.

Co-founders Scott Clark and Leon McQuade, who have just marked the 20th anniversary of the business, say the progress is being driven by rising demand for the company’s expertise on governance, risk and compliance.

In part the increase has come from a rise in shadow IT – the use by employees of hardware or software without the knowledge of the organisation’s IT security team.

Another major factor is the impact of non-approved lines of business software linked to the wider use of artificial intelligence.

Scott said: “The growth is because of our work on governance, risk and compliance and the greater recognition of the value of that. We saw the trend of a massive rise in shadow IT as a result of the increase in remote working.

“We also anticipated the increased use of non-approved lines of business software because of the growth of AI. The data people are putting in is not protected and that is a huge risk. Our growth is coming from looking at the digital footprint of businesses and doing cyber risk assessments.”

Think Digital is a new service designed to keep businesses up to date with the advances in technology and ensure they don’t fall by the wayside.

Leon said: “Many companies have their own IT people but because of the advances of innovations like ChatGPT and large language models they can’t keep up with the pace of change so they are outsourcing their non-core competencies and bringing us in to provide a co-managed solution.

“Some of them have huge responsibilities – we have clients that turnover tens of millions – and our involvement helps them meet the compliance standards for government contracts by achieving Cyber Essentials Plus.

“Our solutions are about streamlining business processes to help clients save time and produce better business intelligence and data analytics so they can work smarter and faster and better, all underpinned by a cyber security commitment.”

Think Cloud had only five staff when Scott relocated his original business, Virtual Networking Ltd, to The Deep Business Centre in late 2018 and joined forces with Leon, whose own business, Profound Inc, specialised in digital transformation for businesses.

Between them they added services for clients in accounts and finance, manufacturing, engineering and digital marketing. Their central location enabled them to attract people at a time when cyber-security skills were in short supply.

From starting with an office of 1,000 square feet at The Deep they have now moved into a suite of more than 2,000 square feet, creating the space to welcome more clients and colleagues.

Scott said: “We have consistently grown every year by 30 per cent. In five years we have grown from £500,000 turnover to £1.8m. Our target for 2032 is £6m and taking our current team of 17 up to 30 people, and we are a year ahead with our plans.”

Freya Cross, Head of Business and Corporate at The Deep, said: “Think Cloud’s progress has been remarkable with a track record of setting ambitious targets and achieving them year after year.

“They are providing rare and valuable opportunities for young people from our city to pursue meaningful careers in a growing sector and their commitment to sharing expertise is helping many more businesses across the region keep their operations secure.

“They are another example of a company coming to The Deep Business Centre and making the most of the flexibility and support we offer to expand as and when they need to without the disruption of relocation.”