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RSA Special Edition: The Human Element - Ep. 68

RSA's theme this year: Human Element--very telling of what's important to the industry, we are moving away from point, event solutions to holistic, human centric solutions. Guests: Rachael Lyon, Forcepoint Director Communication and Nicolas (Nico) Fischbach, Global Chief Technology Officer at Forcepoint.

Episode Table of Contents

  • [00:47] The Human Element of RSA
  • [04:56] The Human Element of The Geek In Me
  • [09:36] The Human Element Behind The Keywords, Acronyms and Stats
  • [13:52] The Human Element of Problem Solving
  • About Our Guests

The Human Element of RSA

Eric: Welcome to To The Point Cybersecurity. This is a special episode from San Francisco, RSA. I'm joined by Nico Fischbach, our CTO at Forcepoint and also Rachel Lyon, our director of communications for the company. We're going to talk a little bit about impressions of RSA, what we're seeing, what we're thinking about today.

Eric: Rachel, let me start with you, director of communications. What do you think about RSA? What does it take to get ready for an RSA?

Rachael: Well, take sales, it takes marketing. It takes everyone across the business to help make this come to life. It takes technology, all of our sales engineering demos. How do you help our story come to life? We do that through product story telling, but you also do it through marketing. We have presence on the show floor, we have a presence at the Saint Regis. You can imagine 100 people help contribute to make this thing happen and come alive.

Eric: How many customers do you think or prospects will be touched by us? I know there are about 40000 people expected over the course of the week here at the show. How many people's lives do we touch? How many people are we directly communicating with?

Rachael: If you talk about just direct touch points in the booth, last year we had almost 5000 direct touch points of engagement, that we physically talked to.

Eric: All cybersecurity professionals? Looking for information?

Rachael: Exactly, yes. Doing a demo.

The Human Element of Touch Points

Rachael: When we talk about touch point, it means that they actually had a conversation. Saw a demo, sat through a theater presentation and that's pretty astounding. Then, you think of all the meetings that we're doing here at the Saint Regis, there's 90 different meetings that we're having with global customers, analysts, influencers. With partners from around the world, plus media like New York Times, Forbes, Reuters.

Eric: Then take that across the 100s if not 1000 plus vendors that are here.

Eric: NSA is here, DHS. It's a whole cybersecurity community. It's pretty cool.

Eric: One week, San Francisco, Nico.

Rachael: Plus wait, I have one. I do want to say further expanding that Microsoft, AWS, Bolden Dames, Highmark Heal, they're all in our booth. And we're also presenting in their booth as well. You think about doubling down on the presence. That's what we're doing this year.

Eric: You're definitely a director of communications. Try not to make this into a commercial, but no problem.

Eric: Thousands of vendors here, tens of thousands of people.

Rachael: Nico, CTO. What do you think?

Nico: Fantastic guys. Rachael said and I decided to turn the table for once. Rachael is always behind the mic on the other side of the camera. It's like, "Hey. You know, we need to put some of those people in spotlight." Like you said, Rachael has seen talked about the people that we touch directly, but then there's social media, all the work you guys do, how we amplify beyond this.

From Vision to Execution

Nico: The show flow is cool, it's one of the touch points, but think of all the other things we're doing. What we communicate about the new Forcepoint's messaging, the new Forcepoint's solutions we are putting out on the market. The technology vision, taking it from vision to execution and getting out there, for commercial, for global governments.

Nico: That's why to me, 2020 is our year and I want to use the podcast to actually put into the spotlight all the people we never see.

Eric: Right, and it's not just at Forcepoint, this isn't a commercial. It's the 115000 other companies out there doing this for their customers. There's a Rachael in everyone. Inside baseball everybody, Rachael had no idea three and a half minutes ago that she was going to be live on the podcast today. That's outstanding.

Eric: Any great technology, Nico? I know you've been on the podcast a bunch, you are our CTO. Anything you saw earth shaking down there? Anything that surprised you?

Nico: This year we see a lot of companies talk about zero trust and I was meeting with one of them this morning and he's made this joke. He said, "I have zero trust in vendors to just put lipstick on a pig."

Eric: I heard that today also. Another gentleman was meeting with us and he said, "There's a lot of lipstick and a lot of pigs out there today." And I said, "What do you mean?"

Nico: What I mean is there's a real vendor who speak the real saying, did the real walk, did their homework. Build the right platform, the right technologies, and then there's all the other ones that just try to apply some simplistic marketing messaging to it.

The Human Element of The Geek In Me

Nico

: Again, it shouldn't be a commercial, but look at the journey we went through into re-architecting. Not just the platform, the technology side and the geek in me, but what we did on the communication side in a whole. Are we making it real for all clients to understand where we want to go? How we help them with their journey and not our journey?

Nico: This outside in view of the world.

Eric: The whole theme of the show is the human element. Rachael, you and I have been talking a bit, but you don't see a lot of the human element or behavioral-centric security or anything on the floor. It's very threat-based. How do we define the human element? Why isn't it being better defined on the show floor?

Eric: Obviously I'm not in a lot of the meetings outside the show floor other than ours. It almost seems like these companies aren't embracing the theme of the show.

Rachael: Well how can you, if you don't have that technology as your base?

Eric: Low blow. I like that. Talk to me.

Rachael: Well, I'm just saying, you have a lot of point product vendors here and they're thinking about it very differently. I think that's one of the things that set us apart from the beginning. Human-centric has been our focus for more than four years.

Eric: Three years ago when went on the RSA stage and keynoted and talked about human behavior, human-centric security.

Eric: We were all excited that the show was actually themed on the human element. I still see threat-based and I still see SD. What I did not see a lot of, I was really surprised is AI,  machine learning everywhere.

The Reality Check On Machine Learning

Eric: The German booth had it. There were a bunch. I didn't see a ton of it.

Nico: You know why? Because I think the reality check happened between last year and this year. Last year, it was all over the place. Everything was cyber AI, cyber security AI something. Some people are more specific. Probably know it's more machine learning than something else. But I think there was a reality check that one, it's hard. Two, the question is "Which business case problems or which user case does it solve?"

Eric: My question would be, "What is it?"

Nico: I think there's only so many companies that have managed to really find what it means and which problem it solves. That's one thing.

Nico: The other thing is saying, "We don't want to be dismissive, but the threat-centric view of the world, it's not going to go away." It's in a stable stakes, but it's still foundation. You still need to deal with security hygiene. What we are saying is, this part of the zero trust model, you need it. You need to transport, you need to extract it.

Nico: Let's elevate the conversation to what you really need to protect, users and data. That's why we're so keen to see more companies embrace this human elements, human-centric cyber security. To me, it's going to happen. Maybe what's going to happen this year's RSA is going to be a catalyst for next year.

Eric: And what is next year?

Nico: I think next year, it's product and predictions.

Eric: Your predictions were too lightweight this year.

Eric: What's next year on RSA? Where do we go as an industry?

The Whole Behavior-centric Model

Nico: The whole behavior-centric model is going to become much more real. There's going to be major change. The industry right now is going through a major change. It's actually like a tsunami. Some companies have changed, some companies are going away. Some companies are being absorbed, some companies are getting a stock market reality check.

Nico: The industry is bringing redefined as we speak. I think the 2021 RSA might be looking very, very different from the 2020 one.

Eric: In what ways? Rachel, what do we do different?

Rachael: I see more evolutionary. I think that to Nico's point.

Eric: Which could be good.

Rachael: Because what is the hot topic right now? We keep hearing a lot about monitoring or better yet, continuous evaluation.

Eric: We're seeing a lot of that in the government.

Rachael: You can't overlook that, and that's becoming key and foundational for all of security. I think we want to get ahead of the threat, not behind the threat. You're going to have a pulse point on what's going on across the network. That's the only way you can do it, is through a continuous evaluation. Gardner has a UAM magic quadrant coming up this year for the first time. All of these are very telling of what's to come.

Eric: The industry is shifting.

Nico: It is shifting and you will see that people will have to become much more precise to pick zero trust or zero access or ZTX or SASE, or whatever.

The Human Element Behind The Keywords, Acronyms and Stats

Nico: The buyers will be looking at much more precise definitions of what the value proposition is going to be. This is also a joke where you ask 10 CSOs about what zero trust is for them, you get 12 answers.

Eric: Right, we saw it this week at the show. We saw it in the meetings. Nobody can define it.

Nico: I think most of the buyers will be looking for more precise definitions than just a keyword, an acronym on the stats.

Rachael: Buzzword bingo.

Nico: Buzzword bingo. That's the joke. That's been the running joke for the week. How many can you check?

Eric: So you're a customer, you're coming out to RSA next year because we're doing this year now towards the end of the show. How do you plan for success? What should you try to do? It's a crazy floor. There are thousands, hundreds, a thousand plus companies out there. You can't do it all. What's your strategy?

Rachael: You have to have a game plan. It's your point, Eric. What is the strategy for coming to the show? I think Forcepoint, we've been very clear. We want meaningful engagement with customers and partners, that's why we're here.

Rachael: We build all of our content around that. How do we create a meaningful experience so that we can have a great discussion on the story, the vision ahead? How do you future-proof? That's the big key, because we are about being the partner for our customers in the future.

Eric: So, if I'm a customer next year, I find a couple of vendors that I'm partnering with. That I'm working with, that I'm interested in. I spend some time in preparation.

A Long Term Game

Eric : I set up meetings and actually get with them and really understand what they're doing.

Rachael:Because it's about partnership. This is a long-term game. This isn't a one and done.

Eric: It should be. It was interesting, we had Chase Cunningham from Forrester speak the other day and he was talking about golf clubs. He was talking about technology. I love this analogy. He was saying, "It's not about the technology" and he's been on the podcast. He's awesome, not afraid to speak his mind, which I love.

Eric: But he's talking about Tiger Woods and golf clubs. He said, "Hey, I can give you Tiger Woods golf clubs, you're still going to suck at golf. If you're not good at golf, you're still going to suck. If I give Tiger Woods the crappiest pair of golf clubs out there, he's probably still going to beat you. Because it's not about the tech."

Nico: Well, it's not about the tech but to continue that analogy, you look at Tiger Woods. He's the front man, but it takes a team. It takes a village.

Nico: That's where I want to go. Next year people will still probably come to their preferred vendors, because there's going to be that convergence. But what are they going to ask about is the partner ecosystem. We cannot do it all.

Eric: There's no one vendor over there, and we've got Microsoft, Cisco. We've got the biggest of the big, minus IBM, AT&T and Verizon, because they pulled out. We've got the biggest of the big over there. They're none of them can solve your problems.

The Partner Ecosystem

Nico: They would be looking at selecting one, two, maybe three key vendors. They would be looking at, "Okay, what's the partner ecosystem around that that's solved my problem"?

Nico: That's where we're going and that's why Rachael was going into production. It takes those partnerships. Point products will be gone, there's going to be converged platform.

Eric: You think they'll be gone?

Nico: Or some of them will disappear.

Eric: No, they always disappear, but there are more that comeback.

Eric: There are 1000 plus companies over there, 200 maybe that have been there for more than five years.

Nico: They do. Some people will be on the life support by then. Look at all the markets evolving, how the P's are investing, where the bench money is coming from. It’s going to dry up. That's also driving the consolidation we see right now in the market.

Eric: I think consolidation would be good.

Eric: Rachael, as a director of communications, how would you like to see the industry evolve? How do you cut through the noise? There's a ton out there.

Rachael: Honestly, there needs to be more of a concerted effort to get away from the buzzword bingo. You look across websites. I have no idea what these companies do but it's Nico's point,  AI. What does AI even mean? We're not doing AI, let's be honest. It's machine learning. What are you looking to solve with machine learning? Automation, eliminate the redundant tasks, help eliminate some of the errors. That's what I'd like to see.

Nico: Hey, you're going to take his job in sales. You just went from buzzword to solving a customer problem in 20 seconds. Hey, she's good.

The Human Element of Problem Solving

Eric: I think she's pretty good.

Rachael: Well, no but that's what customers want. If I'm out there looking for a solution to a specific business use case I have, I don't want to hear "AI". What I want to hear is, "How can you specifically solve my problem and maybe help save me some money?"

Eric: You're the customer, you're out at RSA, you set up a couple of key meetings. How are you approaching that with the vendors? Obviously they're two components coming together and that's got to be peanut butter and chocolate to make Reeses. How do you do that?

Rachael: If you're coming to a show as a customer, you're looking to solve a problem. I'm looking for someone to be my partner, who's going to look out for me. Who's thinking long term and who's going to back me up. Who's going to be in my corner. If you can't solve my problem and tell me in 30 seconds, a minute, how you're going to specifically solve my problem, I'm going to keep walking.

Eric: I would disagree with you. I feel like a lot of customers come and they want us to solve the problems. I can't solve the problem in 30 seconds. I need to understand the problem.

Rachael: Yeah, that's a good point.

Eric: So I always ask for, "Hey, once we get out of the show, we need to set some time up together. Before I sell you anything, before I position anything, I need to know what your problem is."

Nico: Then you ask the question to Rachael,"If I'm a client, what should I look for? Should I go on the company's website?

Where Do I Start

Nico: Should I look at Gartner reports or Alice reports? Should I look at social media?"

Eric: Right, where do I start?

Nico: Where do I start? Where do you think today, as a client, I can get the most useful information? All the enterprise offering?

Rachael: All of the above.

Eric: Where do I start though?

Rachael: Well, you start at the website.

Nico: Just hit Google.

Nico: The website is the place to go.

Rachael: Absolutely. That's where you get your foundation.

Eric: What about word of mouth? Ask your peers?

Rachael: That's helpful too but are they trying to solve the same problems that you have?

Rachael: I think you know what you're digging for. You may not even have a clear grasp on the problem, but that's what you're looking for. You're looking for someone to speak in your language, in a way that you understand.

Eric: Amazing work from you two this week. Everybody here has done a great job. Really appreciate it. This is To The Point Cybersecurity from RSA Special Edition.

About Our Guests

Nicolas (Nico) Fischbach is the Global Chief Technology Officer at Forcepoint. Nico is leading Forcepoint’s cloud-first transformation as the CTO for the company’s cloud security business, where he oversees technical direction and innovation . Before joining Forcepoint, he spent 17 years at Colt, a global B2B service provider, and was responsible for company-wide strategy, architecture and innovation.

Rachael Lyon, Director Communications Forcepoint PR/MarComms guru. Innovative problem solver. Creator of 'a-ha!' moments. Rescuer of Dachshunds. @SyracuseComm  Master's Program grad '19.