The other day, my colleague Brett Bicker, who heads up comforte’s enterprise market development team, and I were on a Zoom call ready to record our annual industry predictions. It’s a tradition of sorts I guess, not only for comforte but for most companies in tech. Make some predictions about what will be important in the coming year, what trends will influence the market, and explain how the predictions are relevant to the audience. Pretty straightforward exercise.
We of course made some jokes about the futility of predictions if your name is anything other than Nostradamus—many luminaries point to the difficulty in predicting the future (just do an Internet search on quotes about predictions), as though predicting anything that’s currently in progress or has already transpired makes any sense whatsoever. All of this introduces the question, why do companies like ours really make these predictions? What’s the real, actionable value to our customers and prospects, or even ourselves?
We both entered the recording session wanting to focus our predictions on some key aspects of the cybersecurity market generally and data security more specifically. As a matter of fact, we both had prepared for a day or two and brought some notes to the meeting, along with some key ideas in mind that we wanted to get across and of course our big annual predictions. You’d think that we could record these few ideas and predictions in short order and give our predictions within just a few minutes.
Quite the opposite occurred. In asking questions to each other, we each added color and nuance to the questions we were posing and comments we were making, which changed the resulting answers quite a bit on the other side from what was initially planned. We went far beyond our prepared ideas—in fact, an organic conversation broke out about emerging industry trends, our perceptions of different concepts in data security, and how that all related to comforte and our customers, after which we eventually had to wrangle ourselves back to the issue at hand, which was simply to record a bold prediction for 2022.
Brett made his prediction about cybersecurity detection and response solutions and how dependent they are on both technology tools and human operation (and intervention). He rightfully emphasized the continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in detecting threats as well as the necessity to have human teams review and act on what machine inspection uncovers. I think we’re certainly going to see and hear a lot more about AI and ML, or machine learning, in the year to come. The potential is growing, as long as we work through the necessary interactions between machines and humans and some of the thornier aspects of “seeding” the machine with effective learning sets.
I focused my prediction around something that happens naturally to most solutions over time, in that they grow and encompass a larger and larger portion of a more complete workflow in order to solve broader problems. Point products become solutions, and solutions ultimately evolve into platforms that combine many solutions into a seamless whole. Our own data security solution has grown into an evolving data security platform, and this is in line with trends we see across the entire data security market. I feel that our solution (and others in the market) will continue to consolidate while simultaneously expanding the coverage and reach of the total platform solution. This, I think, will become a pretty important and influential trend in the next year or two. Whether we’re right or wrong, I guess only time will tell. We promised to meet up like that again in twelve months to see how our predictions played out.
As I was editing all the footage, my perception of the exercise changed. You see, while we went into it with the assumption that the ultimate predictions were the valuable parts, and the rest just extraneous preliminary filler, I now see that the “fireside chat” aspect was really the valuable part. So many organizations don’t have enough discussions about cybersecurity and data security, if they even have them at all. Effective data security isn’t just a topic for the IT department; it’s a topic that everybody in the organization needs to have, to understand, and to explore. I have insisted in the past that the entire organizational culture needs to reflect an awareness of data security. I firmly believe that real value derives from discussions and enhanced awareness, which leads to better and smarter decisions and actions across the organization.
If our predictions for 2022 help you out, then of course that’s great! But what I am really hoping is that if you view the longer fireside chat we had, it might inspire you to start a similar conversation within your own business. As I said, you can never talk enough about cybersecurity, data security, and how to make your organization and its sensitive data safer and more secure. You’ll see that the conversation brings up issues of your corporate culture, your commitments to customers, and the ethics and values that guide your business and employees. And when you’re done talking with your own colleagues and employees and still have some lingering questions, we’re always here to keep the conversation going and get you all the answers you deserve.
I have decided that the value isn’t in the end prediction and the accuracy thereof, but rather in the discussions you have along the way in coming up with those predictions.