Dan DunkelA SECURITY call to Action…around a Wedding theme!

by Dan Dunkel - President, New Era Associates

Published in SDM

The convergence of the physical and logical security is now in full swing. Perhaps the position of CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) best exemplifies the merger of the security profession as a whole. While the reporting structure will vary from company to corporation or within a given industry segment (to CEO, CIO, CRO, etc.) the emphasis on converging SECURITY and IT is apparent. The CISO position promotes the messaging to senior levels and the board of directors that “security is a business practice” just like other departments in the organization. Successful security integrators need to align closely with the CISO to maximize their business opportunities. With that goal in mind, an outstanding organization exists to assist those efforts.

On March 26 & 27th in Atlanta I attended one of the best networking events of my entire career. The Executive Alliance is the brainchild of two visionary women, Mary Lou Heastings and Marci McCarthy. Both are experts at networking security executives in an informal business setting while understanding the powerful draw of peer recognition and collaboration. Along with other programs in IT, the Executive Alliance runs the ISE (Information Security Executive) Awards program, (www.infosecaward.com), a series of regional and national events that in my opinion are “a wedding for the regional CISO community”. While a small group of (10-12) vendors act as sponsors, it is not a heavy sales environment, but a gathering to share security best practices with a focus on innovative ideas.  (BTW – the majority of the vendors are repeat participants of the event, now in its 7th year, and very supportive from a senior level contact and lead generation standpoint.) Perhaps equally important, the many CISO’s (and CIO’s, Security Directors) that I spoke with were extremely enthusiastic and overwhelmingly repeat participants. This setting is not only tailor made for Cisco Systems (PSBU), Diebold, EMC, and Johnson Controls, but also the regional / domestic integrators like Tech Systems, Convergint Technologies, Adesta, and Henry Brothers, to name a few.

The event took place at the Westin Hotel in beautiful Buckhead with the CISO’s and sponsors gathering in a group setting during day one and the morning of day two to share presentations and thoughts on everything from best practices to selling security R.O.I. to senior management. The industries represented included financial, health care, military (Air Force), retail, pharmaceutical, state and local government, and transportation.

The evening of Day One features an outstanding networking session (2 and 1/2 hours) around cocktails and hors devours with the vendor sponsors. The awards follow with a fast paced introduction of numerous CISO candidates and brief discussions of their operations and personal backgrounds, hosted by a local TV personality. The awards are presented and then champagne and desert is served.

While the event appears to be top heavy on the InfoSec side (a clear and present revenue opportunity for security integrators), these CISO’s are also deploying video surveillance, biometrics, and access control solutions. The winner of the Regional CISO of the Year award represented Broward Health, and I was interested to note that he feels that

“Identity management is the key enabling technology for his security business practice”.

Unfortunately, the Dallas event coincides with ISC West, but I plan to attend the session on May 4-5 in Washington DC at the Ritz Carlton. Former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, will be the keynote. Our industry needs to converge upon these CISO events, to better position our security solutions. An ideal marriage would be Securing New Ground / Security 500 and the ISE in New York City in November. In the meantime, upgrade your professional contacts and integration intelligence by attending an ISE event  (CISO wedding) in your region – you will thank me later.