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RSA: Notes from the Launchpad Part One (Diary Mar 1 – 3)

March 4, 2010

Hmmh….

Well I guess I only have myself to blame. I really did build up RSA in my mind as an uber-show and so it had a lot to live up to. Plus the day didn’t get off to great start with a rather stressful car accident (Luckily no one injured), so it was all rather more eventful than I expected before I even got to the show.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of companies there and certainly a lot of people attending the conference, but the whole time I was there the exhibition part looked….well, frankly, a bit slow.

I guess I thought it would be bigger. After all, everything is bigger in the US right? Well, not RSA. Exhibition-wise it certainly is no bigger than Infosecurity Europe and of course not a scratch on THE IT show CeBIT, which is actually more like a town or a small country like Leichtenstein than just a show.

The media seemed to not pick up on very much action and although the keynotes were impressive, I sensed that something is overshadowing it all. Yep! It’s a cloud, or should I say, “The Cloud.” It seems that it is making everything somewhat—well—cloudy.

Before I start to sound like a weather presenter, I’ll detail my concern here. I think companies do need to be warned that to hitch their wagons to something frankly still very fluffy (sorry!) is a dangerous thing.  Especially when the link between some of the products and the Cloud is very tenuous and frankly adoption just isn’t there yet. The vendor communities (especially their product management and marketing teams) need to be crystal-clear on what they offer that makes the Cloud safer, but the real opportunity for security companies I think is to offer flexible, smart and cost-effective security solutions via the Cloud. Its real power for most will be the ability to deliver new business models. That’s where the real opportunity lies!

So there is a real and present danger of Clouding stuff to death – I hear shouts of “Rhubarb” from @ianfh as I type. So use the C word with caution!

One other thing that surprised me was the lack of freebies, always a strong indicator of the business climate. But aside from a little chocolate and the odd (sometimes very odd) pen there was little freebie action. Surely budgets are not sooooo tight that the things that delight our kids and allow us to entertain the kid in us can no longer be part of the show. To cheer people (well, mainly the chaps) there were some lovely ladies clad as police officers and some nurses, but overall there was very little eye candy (frankly a good thing in humble opinion).

But perhaps, as you may have gleaned from our top trumps post, this is more an issue of conference vs. exhibition. RSA is really about the sessions which are in the most part great. The exhibition is very much a bolt-on and of course a way to subsidise the knowledge sharing element.

I did not get a chance to sample the nightlife aspect of RSA yet (damn jetlag) but will be diving in this evening. I am sure that will mean that part two of our notes from the Launchpad on RSA will be a little more upbeat. (Oh by the way, the tip for party action at RSA is to follow @rsaparties on Twitter or just search for #RSA #RSAC – do not get confused by RSA – Republic of South Africa; RSA – Royal Society of Arts or my personal favourite RSA – Robot Skeleton Army [they are a band I think] – so perhaps I need to do a top trumps of Celebrity Death Match between these OUR RSA vs. a Robot Skeleton Army sounds rather fun in a strange type of way).

On an @launchpadeurope side, it was a great day, met some fabulous people I’d met on twitter, caught up with our chums in the media and had some great new biz meetings so I do love RSA, just not what I expected. But onwards and upwards, I’ll put aside my initial concerns and hit the trail again today.

And I’ll also keep my fingers crossed that I do win one of the most generous prizedraws that I did find. A trip to New Zealand from the lovely team at Endace. They have great chocolate too!

See every Cloud does have a silver lining.

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