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Vendors Get More Strategic

Mar 09, 20113 mins
Build AutomationEnterprise ApplicationsSecurity

Bob Bragdon says the RSA show displayed industry progress in more ways than one

I know a good conference when I see one-my background is in the events business, including Comdex-and I definitely know the signs of a convention that is on the rise or ready for a fall. I’m happy to report that the RSA show we all enjoyed last month is clearly on the rise.

There was a good buzz on the expo floor. It was definitely an improvement over the past couple of years, when a giant economic rain cloud hung over everything. It’s not that I saw technologies and products I’d consider earth-shattering-the core topics were no surprise, and cloud security and various flavors of data protection were everywhere. Instead, the positive buzz among the vendors I visited came from the fact that attendees were asking good “buying” questions.

This is very much in line with the findings of our annual Global State of Information Security Survey, fielded in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers. The tough economy of these past two years put a lot of information security spending on hold, but the demand was still there. Now we’re seeing the results of a combination of some economic improvement and the simple fact that technical attacks keep advancing and defenses simply can’t sit still for long.

The other thing that was exciting was the number of vendors who wanted to talk about security at a more strategic level. The market has recognized that security is maturing, transitioning from an offshoot of the IT organization to an independent group, in many cases, and a key player in enterprise risk management everywhere. The result was more vendors asking about how they can successfully engage with you, the strategic CSOs and CISOs of the business world.

For example, we had one very interesting dialogue with a vendor starting with this question: “You’re a new CISO. What tools do you have, and what tools do you need, to accurately evaluate the environment you’ve just inherited?” That’s a great question that shows that vendors are trying to understand your challenges.

This is a fantastic development, as your service and product providers are going to gain a greater understanding of what you really need to get the job done. I know that you are inundated with cold calls, and that’s not really the way you do business. The odds are increasing that vendors will find more constructive ways to engage you in meaningful conversations centered around business needs.

Of course, we’ve focused CSO on your business needs since we started the magazine in 2002. And we’re still listening and learning so we can help you do your job well. I may be stopping by your city soon for a CSO dinner; I take that time to learn what you need from your partners. Of course, I’ll also be gathering effective ideas at our CSO Perspectives event in Naples, Fla., April 5-7. And you can always drop me a line at the e-mail address below.