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RSA 2022 – A Happy Reunion

Charles Blauner May 31, 2022
RSA Charles v5

The RSA Conference in San Francisco is the largest gathering of cybersecurity professionals and experts, vendors, technologists and investors, to discuss current and future concerns, best practices and industry trends. The first conference since the pandemic, this year’s event in June is eagerly anticipated by the market. Team8’s Charles Blauner offers some thoughts ahead of this year’s event. 

I’ve been attending the RSA Conference regularly since 1994, and I’ve had a front row seat to its role in educating CISOs and their teams, creating opportunities for collaboration and the sharing of best practices, and providing a unique platform for showcasing the most exciting and innovative companies and technologies. 

In my (almost) 30 years, I’ve seen it all, and I can’t wait to get back this year.

Getting the old gang back together 

This year’s conference is the first since the pandemic and is inevitably going to be about reconnecting. The cybersecurity community is tight-knit, and throughout the last two years, the ongoing open dialogue and the sharing of best practices has been hugely important. But the opportunity to meet in person again, individually and in groups, is wonderful.

What’s unique about the RSA Conference is density – the number of people, the breadth of experience and skills, the variety and level of technology, and the opportunity for in-person meetings with people and firms who are experts in their fields. CISOs are looking for the next game-changing solution for their companies; their teams are finding opportunities to learn and expand their skill set and network; vendors will be relishing the chance to connect with many of their current and future customers in a short span of time, setting themselves up for the future; and of course, investors will be on the lookout for interesting new opportunities.

Transformation as a theme

As a community, the CISO community has transformed and evolved, so this year’s theme of “Transformation” is really on-point. The conference organizers have highlighted that CISOs have “moved from the backroom to the boardroom”. One of the most exciting aspects of the conference is always the opportunity to engage with cutting edge technologies / vendors and the opportunities they present. CISOs are always  focused on risk and control, ensuring that the business can continue to flourish safely in whatever shape, form or location works for the company and its employees. But CISOs are going to have to go farther. Today, the best CISOs should be driving transformation for their businesses, identifying and implementing the best and most exciting technologies in a way that intrinsically drives change, rather than simply responding to it. Getting back to RSA provides CISOs the opportunity to spot transformative technologies, which is even more exciting this year after a hiatus. New, young, dynamic companies that haven’t been seen before will be present (often around the edges of the show floor) and I can’t wait to see what they have to offer.

One way to understand the necessity for CISOs to stay ahead of the technology curve is to simply observe the way the core technology environment is changing as a result of two key factors:

  1. The changing definition of infrastructure, driven by the accelerating  move from private data centers and bespoke systems to hosting in public cloud and SaaS, as well as the shift from office-based working to hybrid working environments.
  2. The digital transformation, as more and more enterprises bring technology into the center of the business and more of the economy is data / information driven.

The CISOs who are facilitating and accelerating these changes, not just supporting them, are the ones driving the most benefit for their organizations.

Beyond transformation – key themes and discussion points. 

Another important theme this year will be “Smarter Security”. One of the biggest challenges facing any CISO is the cyber skills shortage. As highlighted in Team8’s Cybersecurity Themes report, the global cybersecurity workforce shortage is expected to reach 1.8 million in 2022; Microsoft reports that there is one open cybersecurity job for every two that are filled in the US.

Smarter Security technology supports the CISO’s mission  by making processes smarter, better and more efficient so that CISOs get the most out of their people. Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other technologies are being applied across the full range of cybersecurity needs including security operation center (SOC) orchestration, instant response orchestration, and software development orchestration. The RSA Conference will be a huge opportunity to see some of these in action.

Of course, as the RSA Conference was originally focused on cryptography, you can expect that to be a continuing theme this year (and as always the only session of the conference that for me is a can’t miss event is the Cryptographer’s Panel…made even more interesting because Shafi Goldwasser, a co-Founder of Team8 portfolio company Duality, will be sharing the state with Whit Diffie and Adi Shamir.)

Identifying, nurturing and sharing new technologies and new firms RSA Sandbox competition has a long and successful history, so the 10 firms spotlighted are definitely ones to watch. Obviously, I’m thrilled that Team8 portfolio company Talon is in there. It’s certainly an incredible opportunity for them to increase their exposure and meet a large number of potential clients, partners and investors. But all 10 of the participants are companies to watch. Each of them is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible within cybersecurity, and their solutions and thinking are likely to be tomorrow’s game-changers.

Are you attending the RSA Conference? Schedule a time to meet Team8 and/or our portfolio companies.


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