RSA is pretty amazing! I’ve been to a lot of security and tech conferences over the years, but somehow always missed the train to RSA. The show is absolutely massive, and involves an entire week of tradeoffs for an attendee – do you walk the expo hall for hours on end? Meet with customers? New prospects? Attend the sessions? Analysts? Write content? Promote on social media? Network with new vendors and partners? Or eat lunch? There is nowhere near enough time to do everything you want to do (I’ll cover a recommendation for this at the end), and RSA has so much to offer.

I had a fantastic week in San Francisco (minus the weather, I think we all could have done without that). I learned a lot while I was here and wish, like many, I had more time to do it. However, I’m flying home tomorrow, and I’m absolutely exhausted, so a weekend at home, with the peace and quiet, and catching up on some work emails is very welcoming!

Another interesting thing, from a vendor perspective, is that there are two sides to a conference like this. There is the work happening at the conference itself (keynotes, sessions, and vendor booths), and then there is everything happening adjacent to it (networking, customer meetings, and business partnerships). And every single person here, the 40K+ attendees, are all on their own missions; it’s inspiring to see the drive behind everyone’s eyes.

If you’re on LinkedIn, connect with me, and let me know how RSA was for you!

Themes

RSA had a lot of themes that were presented both purposefully, and by accident in the market shifts represented by the vendor booths. The first set of themes were set by the keynote address, specifically that “we are better together,” that AI and humans together is critical to the future, and that trust moving forward is going to be make or break our future. 

The importance of diversity and inclusion in the security industry also surfaced through many conversations. Walking the show floor, it’s amazing to see how far we have come in our efforts to include people of different backgrounds. But while we have made a lot of progress, there is still a lot of work to be done here. 

The last major theme that played out, similar to “better together,” is that none of us are alone. While our market may be fiercely competitive at times, we ultimately are all moving towards the same goals: to protect ourselves, our customers, our data, our people, and our country. The honor and pride in the work that we do is incredible. There will be trying times, there will be breaches, there will be cyberattacks, and in those moments, we have to remember that none of us are alone in these efforts.

Takeaways

There is no shortage of security companies, and the evolution of technology is at a break-neck pace. So many new companies were on the RSA expo floor, with leading-edge technology, cool stories to tell, and a lot of fun designs. Standing out at the expo hall is no easy task.

We have to continue our efforts on the diversity and inclusion fronts, and every company must make a conscious effort to do so. Again, we’ve made a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go. We need to make security sound as cool as it really is, and encourage the youngest generations to get involved.

The world is changing rapidly! Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent, and the rate at which they’re changing their patterns is accelerating. The private sector is going to have a hard time keeping up with state-sponsored attacks, and the industry could do with more collaborative, cross-business work.

There is a lot of noise in the marketplace. So many vendors solving the same problems, but in slightly different ways. As a product marketer, this is ripe with opportunity! Product marketers of the world: please understand your buyers’ needs and bring to the forefront exactly how your business solves those problems – and then go after that market. Make it crystal clear! Again, in the spirit of “better together,” connect with me on LinkedIn if you’re not sure how to go about that. 

Veracode’s Presence

I have to spend a little bit of time talking about Veracode at RSA this year. We came full force! We brought an army of Veracoders to RSA this year, from all different departments and with a variety of backgrounds. We had a really large booth with a ton of traffic all week. We were thrilled to have Sophia, the world’s first humanoid robot, join us to answer attendees’ questions. We met with thousands of people, held hundreds of meetings, handed out a ton of customized t-shirts, conducted demos, and had some of our brightest minds present on a number of topics, like how to make security part of your competitive edge. Veracode launched its refreshed branding, with a new focus on YOU! You, our customers, are the ones that are changing this world – we’re just helping you secure it. We worked really hard all week, but we had a lot of fun doing it. And if you saw some Veracoders and want to be part of something amazing, come see what it’s all about.

Recommendations

Since this was my first year at RSA, there are a few things I would do differently – so let me share with you a few recommendations, both from a vendor perspective and an attendee’s perspective.

Vendors with booths, especially the smaller ones, make sure what you do and your differentiating value proposition are front and center. Bigger companies can get away with a little more ambiguity, because the booths are so big. Your buyers are walking by, and with over 300 booths to choose from, and no time to do it, you have to make sure that in the THREE seconds it takes to walk by – your potential buyers knows you can solve a specific pain point they have.

Attendees – plan, plan, plan. Start with what you want to get out of RSA, and then make sure everything you do centers around that. You are not going to be able to do it all, so you’re better off focusing on one or two areas, and going all in on those. Make sure you have a schedule and that it’s really locked down, and leave time to walk the show floor – it’s fun! 

Vendors and attendees: Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other. We are all just humans after all. Remember to eat, go for that run in the morning, take that bath in the evening, watch your favorite show, and get some much-needed rest. Don’t forsake your health. You will be on your feet all day, so make sure you’re healthy. Oh, and try to wear comfortable shoes! You’re going to be on your feet a lot. 

Stay tuned for more from RSA … in 2020! In the meantime, learn more about Veracode.

RJ Gazarek is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Veracode, working as part of the product strategy team on the Software Composition Analysis and Greenlight product lines.  Combining 10 years of Marketing experience, an education in Psychology, and a personal background in IT, RJ brings a unique perspective to the cybersecurity market.  His job is to be the voice of Veracode's customers, while keeping a pulse on the rapidly changing market for application security.

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