Every year we like to start the RSA Guide with review of major themes you will most likely see woven through presentations and marketing materials on the show floor. These themes are a bit like channel-surfing late-night TV – the words and images themselves illustrate our collective psychology more than any particular needs. It is easy to get excited about the latest diet supplement or workout DVD, and all too easy to be pulled along by the constant onslaught of finely-crafted messaging, but in the end what matters to you? What is the reality behind the theme? Which works? Is it low-carb, slow-carb, or all carb? Is it all nonsense designed to extract your limited financial resources? How can you extract the useful nuggets from the noise?

This year we went a little nutty, and decided to theme our coverage with a sports and fitness flavor. It seemed fitting, considering the growth of security – and the massive muscle behind the sports, diet, and fitness markets. This year Jennifer Minella leads off with our meta theme, which is also the conference theme: change.


This year at RSA the vendors are 18% more engaged, solutions are 22% more secure, and a whopping 73% of products and solutions are new. Or are they? To the untrained eye the conference floor is filled with new and sensational technologies, ripe for consumption – cutting-edge alongside bleeding-edge – where the world comes to talk security. While those percentages may be fabricated horse puckey, the underlying message here is about our perception of — and influence over – real change.

“It’s like deja-vu, all over again,” as Yogi Berra once mused. Flipping through the conference guide, that will be the reaction of observers who have made their way by watching the ebbs and flows of our industry for years. The immediate recognition of companies acquired, products rebranded, and solutions washed in marketing to make them 84% shinier, feeds a skeptical doubt that we are actually making progress through this growth we call ‘change’. So here is our Public Service Announcement: change is not necessarily improvement.

Change can be good, bad, or neutral, but for some reason our human brains crave it when we are at an impasse. When we hit a wall or bonk – when we are frustrated, confused, or just pissed off – we seek change. Not only seek, but force and abuse it. We wield change in unusual and unnatural ways because something that’s crappy in a new and different way is better than the current crappy we already have. At least with change there’s a chance for improvement, right? And there is something to be said for that. Coach John Wooten said “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” If we keep changing – if we keep taking more shots on goal – eventually we’ll score.

But are we changing the right things? Does reorganizing, rebranding, or reinventing the cloud or the IoT help in a meaningful way? Perhaps, but you are not simply at the mercy of change around you. You, too, can influence change. This year as you walk around the sessions, workshops, and booths at RSA, look for opportunities to change other things. Change your perspective, change your circle of influence, change your approach, or change your habits. Ask questions, meet new people, and consider the unimaginable. We guarantee at least 19% change with a 12% effort, 99% of the time.

by Jennifer Minella, Contributing Analyst

This article first appeared on the RSA Conference blog at http://www.rsaconference.com/blogs