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Trade Shows Demonstrate Security’s Maturing Process

Sep 30, 20082 mins
Identity Management SolutionsPhysical SecurityTechnology Industry

I hit two shows in September and got a real mind-bending, yin-yang sort of experience (in addition to a severe travel cold and way too many canvas bags) for the effort.

First up was our own Digital ID World conference in Anaheim. Identity management—SAML, Shibboleth, directories active or virtual—that’s a technology show, right?

The next stop was the ASIS exposition in Atlanta. Retractable barriers, chemical detection sensors, badge-management systems—no enterprise IT there, right?

Wrong on both counts.

At DIDW, there was plenty of technology on display, aimed at pieces of the ID management puzzle, large (the Microsofts, Novells, Oracles of the world) and small (everything from password-management software to enterprise authentication for the Mac). But pressed to name the biggest technical hurdles facing identity management, the keynote speakers echoed a consistent answer: The big challenges, they said, are about establishing trust. There are technical questions, but those are manageable. Identity management requires tech, but it isn’t about tech.

On the other hand, at ASIS, one attendee reminisced that a mere half-decade ago, it really was a show about guards and gates, but now the presence and flavor of technology are nearly overwhelming. IP video analytics, fraud-detection software and so on. The so-called physical security show is radically infused with technology.

Of course, this “techno or no-tech” dichotomy is really a MacGuffin, a red herring. It grabs our attention but isn’t central to the real plot.

J.M. Allain, the new president of Panasonic System Solutions, told me at ASIS that he was brought in specifically because his company, historically focused on product engineering pushed out to the reseller channel, wants to amp up its customer awareness and provide more integrated solutions that solve real business problems.

That’s the trick of it all, isn’t it? Behind the gee-whiz curtain—and I certainly enjoyed that gee-whiz factor at both shows—DIDW and ASIS and, hopefully, every show you’ll attend this year, are ultimately business shows. Whatever technologies, processes, products or practices you may find at vendor booths or keynote presentations, it’s your job—you, the CSO, the customer—to translate those things into value for your organization.