Updated October 2016
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
― Henry David Thoreau,
Yet, it is 21st century and we are at best, floundering at building a stronG foundation.
The security threat is greater than ever. We have empowered ourselves to give 'life' to these binary codes thus becoming a victim of our vey own creation. Case in point; — Apple has just distributed a fresh round of security updates to address remote-code execution holes in iOS, macOS, Safari, and the firmware for Apple Watch and AppleTV.
As with any challenges it produces opportunity. "Developing security intelligence – the ability to proactively predict, identify and react to potential threats" – is shaping up to be an important facet in our digital age. And, RSA Conference has become the hotbed of information security conferences in our 'Industrial Internet Economy'.
If you are exhibiting at RSA, be well prepared to anticipate more than 30,000 attendees seeking knowledge and over 450 exhibitors that you will be competing with. With keynotes, peer-to-peer sessions, track sessions, debates, tutorials and seminars featuring countless speakers, geared around Internet of Things, Supply Chain risk, Threat Intelligence Sharing, Identity management, DevOps, Authentication, Software Defined Data Center, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Privacy, Cybercrime, Mobile, Law, Government Policy, Analytics and Forensics, Security Operations Centers, Cloud, Malware, Latest Hacks, Secure App Development, APTs, Security Standards, BYOD, Wearables, Metrics, Social Engineering, Virtualization, Critical Infrastructure and much, much, more – it is more than likely, that your voice will be lost, your investment will be sitting by the wayside... if you do not come up with a strategy that will get you noticed.
The key question and the only question that you need to address: How do I Stand Out?
The good news is, you still have a bit of time to get started. Here are few ideas to get you going. You might not be able to integrate all. Just accomplishing one, will set you apart from your adversaries. It will get you started on a new path.
BE MINDFUL of THE MINDSET OF YOUR ATTENDEES
I would say, for this event, curiosity is the first order of the day. RSA is a conference that is dotted with learning sesssions. People go to RSA to learn, to share and to tap into the ever changing industry trends.
In your world of marketing communications — whatever, the product or service maybe, answer these questions first."What triggers the need in the first place (of your product/service)? Who or what influences selection? What are the barriers to purchase? Once we have defined the problem, we can search for the right solution. And that inspires a new set of questions."
For the sake of argument, let's tackle the category of 'Authentication'. Your product/service is a great solution for the needed authentication. Correct? But instead, ask yourself, what happens if your product/service fails. Take this one step further and design a presentation based on the failure of authentication. This will give you whole set of new ideas that will spark key messages for your booth and different concepts to involve your existing target audience prior to the show. Learn more — the need to build your tribe who will bid for you.
You have to be curious to create a compelling solution that sets you apart and kick starts the conversation around your offering.
TAKE RISK – BE RECEPTIVE TO EXPERIMENTATION AND ITERATION
RSA is all about security and security is all about risk evasion. Do just the opposite.
When Alcatel-Lucent wanted to break into the the enterprise network market it undertook a mammoth risk. It launched a video series, The New Guy. The result: over 500,000 YouTube hits, since its' launch, raising awareness among enterprise CIOs, and paving the way for more lead-gen-oriented activities in that market. This was a brave move for the provider of network operator services trying to carve out new markets. But it paid off in a big way. Alex, the fictional CIO is busy, raising awareness with twitter account of over 1,500 followers. Now, how does this relate to you?
For our category of 'Authentication', hire a professional hacker. Take note of the different ways that he cannot break the code. OR sponsor a hackathon day. Get 15 hackers on site hard at work. Create a video. (Here are some fun ways you can capture it.) Blast it over social channels with your unique hashtag. Motivate your hacker buddies to blast it on their channels as well. Do this well before the RSA conference. At the conference, present snippets of this video with your formal presentation. Get one of your C-Suite to present it in one of the sessions.
The brand that has mastery over their biases and is receptive to new ideas will travel the long road of longevity and be relevant to the changing times.
DO NOT LEAD WITH THE PRODUCT. LEAD WITH THE PERSON.
“The dirty little secret in our industry is that all the vendor claims in the world can’t keep you from being victim to a significant breach." Amit Yoran, president of RSA There, you have it. Right from the man in command. Read it. You might gain some ideas on how to present your case.
For our category of 'Authentication'; your product is only as good as the code behind it. This inherently straps you with limitation. On the other hand, if you lead with the needs of your people (target audience) your offering base expands exponentially and you might be able to craft a solution that changes with their changing needs. As Amit Yoran mentions, “This is not a technology problem, it is a mindset problem.” In other words, look at the scope of an old problem in a new light.
One example comes to my mind. "Do you know what GE is?"
Once upon a time, in the not so long ago age of 'INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY', working for GE was reaching a pinnacle in one’s career. However, today, when a company like Nest, goes from zero to $3.2 BN Google acquisition in 3 years by making so-called “dumb” household devices smart: the scene is obviously a bit different.
GE goes about changing the mindset of its' audience. One such campaign is, "What's the Matter with Owen?," featuring a college grad named Owen who has just been hired as an industrial internet developer at GE. Within each spot, copy reads, "GE. The digital company. That's also an industrial company."
Moral of the story: Get busy being HUMAN-CENTERED. Pay attention to the needs, wants and limitations of your end users of your product, service or process.
Product changes. Perception changes. Balance of Power Tips. I bet competing with Google, was not what Honeywell had ever anticipated. But, we are living in furiously changing times. And, the only constant to the change is to be hyper-relevant to the person you are catering to.
I hope this inspires you to position yourself, for RSA 2017 in a way that is strategic and relevant. You can have a great exhibit design, but if it is not dictated by a strategic staging platform, you will come out severely short. As one influential 20th century writer put it, “When you stay too long in the same place, things and people go to pot on you, they rot and start stinking for your special benefit.” To keep your brand healthy and growing, you have to constantly seek out new markets and evolve with the world around you. Else, at the end of the day, you end up being the 'Honeywell' of your industry.