RSA 2015 in Review: How Did We All Do?

Last month I wrote “The 10 Smartest Things to Do at the RSA Conference,” and I was pleased to see that a lot of conference-goers enjoyed my tips. So after recuperating, I thought a follow-up was in order.

This year’s conference was bigger than ever with more than 33,000 participants. The sessions were packed, the exhibit halls buzzing and even the local businesses were mentally preparing for the havoc this conference brings to the neighborhood each year. There were some highlights and, to my chagrin, some “I told you so” moments that I simply kept to myself. So let’s see how we all fared!

1. Make a plan.

For the most part, I think everyone had somewhat of a plan to help guide them through the jungle of RSA. I saw reference notes in hand, folks navigating their calendars by way of phone and plenty of inquiries on directions to a location where they had a scheduled meeting. People were prepared with their business cards and some with other people’s business cards because their colleagues were not able to attend. I didn’t know of anyone who felt as though their lack of planning turned their RSA experience into a waste of time.

2. Don't stick to the plan.

I feel remiss in not mentioning two key components in my previous post:

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to get your badge at registration. This caused for massive delays due to the long lines on both day one and day two.
  2. Those who don’t reside in the Pacific Time Zone seem to have issues with their calendars synching correctly. I saw so many folks who accepted, say, a 1:00 PM PT meeting only to show up for it at 10:00 AM. It’s an ongoing struggle that I haven’t found the perfect solution for.

3. Familiarize yourself with the landscape.

This is hard because the event is so big. There’s 101 exhibitors in the North hall and 102 in the South hall. There’s an event on Minna Street, but the Yurba Buena Gardens divides the street into two, so which side is it on? AND I can’t believe that, in the midst of the drought of a lifetime that California is having, it actually did rain a bit – so I’m sure that my worst case “forgot an umbrella” scenario from my previous post came true for someone. Sorry! I can only say that after years of attending, the repetition of it all has provided me with the know-how of where to go. Hopefully, next year will be that much easier for you too.

4. Learn both inside and outside the session room.

I was pleased to learn so much about the technology vendor landscape and beyond outside of the sessions. The education received both inside and out was equally as beneficial. I’m proud of my team for doing a great job in educating folks on the benefits of having one endpoint agent effectively protecting against both insider and outside threats.

5. Take chances.

I’m happy to say that I participated wholeheartedly in this myself. This was the most popular topic on my list and, as I’ve come to expect, the opportunities I encountered didn’t necessarily align with my previous predictions. It’s hard for me to provide a synopsis on this one since no one called out that speaking with me was beyond their comfort zone.

But I can tell you that I networked considerably at events in which I normally would have taken a more passive role. I met a fantastic new contributor for our blog, candidates for our cyber security team and more. Taking those chances was a positive experience for me and I hope you had the same return. If you did not take any chances to get outside of your comfort zone this time around, I challenge you to do so at least once before the year is out. If you did, I would be interested in hearing about it if you care to share.

6. Ask the right questions.

I was so happy to get additional feedback on what other questions could help one determine the difference between various vendors. Especially since my heart dropped when going down the escalator towards the South Hall and seeing almost the exact same message as the one we thought we were clever and distinctive in using – DOH! But beyond the questions that I listed before, one additional I heard was truly the best question of all and warrants airtime even posthaste: “What business problem do you solve?” Not having this question in my original list did you a disservice. I’ll be sure to include it in any future tips for important questions to ask vendors.

7. Take notes.

The weeks after RSA I am always thankful for my notes and this year was no exception! How did you do? Do you feel like you didn’t need to take notes or are you kicking yourself now because you can’t remember what company Bill Smith was from, even though you were certain that this information would never leave your short term memory? And guess what, next year you’ll be another year older – another disadvantage in the battle against your ability to leave your thoughts to just memory.

8. Be safe.

This year the streets seemed to have doubled in the homeless population. If I stopped at all on the street, either to wait for a light or get my bearings, I was immediately approached. This is tough; I want to help anyone in need but it’s hard to help everyone. The good news was that no one was aggressive. While actively soliciting for money and such, a simple “no” sufficed and without confrontation. I’ll be keeping my eye on the crime rate for next year. Unfortunately, between the ongoing gentrification of neighborhoods and even the erecting of the now-under-development building, I don’t see crime decreasing unless the government decides to alter its current laws and their enforcement.

9. Have fun.

This one is confirmed. There was lots of fun to be had. Thank you to all of the organizations who provided fun parties, toys, dinners and entertainment, etc. RSA continues to delight all senses.

10. Plan to be heavier when you leave.

This one kills me every year. I see folks with tons in their hands and no bag, or bags filled to the brim. With the luggage size and weight restrictions on most airlines, I wonder if those $10 and under tchotchkes are worth the cost to bring them home. And then there’s the food. Every restaurant was filled to the brim with RSA goers and even with the very healthy options provided at nearly every restaurant in town, who can resist baked macaroni and cheese?

So in conclusion, all in all a great event. I look forward providing additional tips next time for your 2016 RSA experience. See you in February!

Susanne Gurman

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Susanne Gurman

Susanne Gurman is a diehard Digital Guardian. As the vice president of global field & event marketing she has spent almost 10 years driving DG awareness to prospects and customers worldwide. Prior to joining Digital Guardian, Susanne had 10 years of experiential marketing under her belt that spanned across corporations, associations and education.

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