Reflections on TechSec 2012
A week ago I was flying to Delray Beach, Fla., for my first TechSec conference. As co-programmer of the conference, I had spent months planning the educational sessions—in fact, I was on the job less than a week when I was on a conference call with the TechSec Advisory Board about the makeup of the sessions—and was looking forward to how they translated from the page to the stage.
And I have to say, the conference was a big success.
We had experts, including end users and integrators, discussing the future of security-related mobile apps, what kind of ROI end users can expect from moving services to the cloud, best practices when it comes to integrating cutting-edge technology in long-term projects, and whether video analytics is ready to go "mainstream," among many other topics. You can read about some of these sessions on Security Director News already. I will continue to post reports from the other sessions in the weeks to come, so check back.
The level of conversation at the conference was impressive. We had about 120 attendees this year, the majority of which were top players at their respective companies. We also had a great mix of integrators, vendors, consultants and end users. I'm sure some the contacts made at this year's TechSec will blossom into future business dealings.
My favorite part of the conference, however, was being able to welcome nine members of SDN's 20 Under 40 list, which I published in January. It was great to give these young security professionals an opportunity to network with their peers, integrators and consultants, in a more intimate setting than if they were one of thousands at a conference like ASIS International's.
During the last session of the last day of the conference, I moderated a panel that included four of the 20 Under 40 honorees entitled "Technology through the eyes of security's next leaders." Though it was the conference's last session, the attendees in the room were not nodding off to sleep or busy on their BlackBerries. When I looked out at the audience from the podium, people were sitting up and paying attention. They wanted to hear what Whit Chaiyabhat, Georgetown University's director of emergency management and operational continuity, had to say about the future implications of security-related mobile apps on a university campus, or what Chris Chapeta, a physical security specialist at Chevron, had to say about the latest technology the energy sector is using to protect its critical infrastructure, or what Chris Cromer, director of security at Alamance Regional Medical Center, wanted to see in terms of technology for the healthcare sector, or what Siomary Melendez, manager of plans, training and operations at Thomson Reuters, had to say about the security technology needs of a global company.
The value this session provided was made clear at the following reception, which we held in honor of the 20 Under 40 honorees. Many people told me how much they enjoyed that last panel. Frank Potempa, a senior project manager at Siemens, told me that after all he's heard about mobile technology, he has never been more convinced of the huge impact it will have on the security space than after the last session and hearing about the technology from the future leaders of the security profession.
Another moment I will remember from the reception was looking around the crowd and seeing a small group gathered around a table, drinks in hand, chatting away. They were Jim Henry, executive vice president of Henry Brothers Electronics, a division of Kratos Security and Defense Solutions; Ray Coulombe, founder of SecuritySpecifiers.com; and two of SDN's 20 Under 40s, Whit Chaiyabhat and Chris Chapeta. That sight really brought into relief what we are trying to do with TechSec, and what I'd like to continue to do with SDN's 20 Under 40 list. That is: Bringing together some of the security industry's MVPs to spur high-level conversation and facilitate relationships that will propel the industry into the future.