Cybersecurity, Data Science and Innovation Take Center Stage at 2019 PoweredUP Technology Festival

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Last Thursday, technology executives discussed everything from cybersecurity to product innovation in front of a sold-out crowd at the 2019 poweredUP Tampa Bay Tech Festival.

Here’s a recap on some of the key discussions from the event:


The Cybersecurity War Rages On

Do cyberattackers have the upper hand against companies? During the CEO2CEO panel featuring KnowB4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman and Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Klecynski, Sjouwerman said the answer is a resounding “yes.” Companies face unfair odds against attackers, Sjouwerman said, adding, “The attacker only has to be right once—but the defender needs to be right 100 percent of the time.”

Klecynski agreed, explaining that human gullibility is often the root of the problem. People still fall victim to fake emails and click unfamiliar links, often assuming that no one is out to get them—and this mentality has to change, he said.

But rest assured, there’s still hope for the war against cyberattackers. Sjouwerman said that it all boils down to policy, procedure and process, and our best solution is a combination of software to protect endpoints and trained employees to help recognize and prevent attacks. “We all need to band together and make sure that our systems are very hard to break,” he said. “There are no absolutes. If you have more resources, more time and more money, the bad guys will always get in—but we can make it as hard as humanly possible.”

This topic was further explored during the cybersecurity panel featuring leaders from Raymond James, Aon, Check Point Software Technologies, and Ancestry.com. Tony Blackham, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of Ancestry.com, explained that we need to redefine ‘winning’ in terms of the cybersecurity war and be more transparent about incidents. “Winning is not that we don’t have incidents—it’s how we handle those incidents,” he said. “I think we need to be more transparent about those incidents and change the conversation to, ‘We’re going to have issues, but here’s how we’re going to help you.'”


The 3 C’s of Innovation

Change for the sake of change is not innovation, said Otto Berkes, X-BOX cofounder and HBO GO developer, during his keynote session. “The real goal of innovation isn’t technology. In fact, technology is simply a set of tools that enable innovation,” he said. “The real goal of innovation is to stay ahead of competition and the changing needs of your customers.” The real challenge then, he added, is to create the right conditions for innovation to thrive in your business.

Berkes outlined three key elements—or the 3 C’s—to enable innovation to thrive:

  • Customers: “You need to deeply understand and empathize with your customers, because this is the only way you’ll meet their unmet needs and wants,” said Berkes. Customers must be brought along the innovation journey, and you must identify the gaps between what you’re building and what they actually need, he explained.
  • Culture: You need to build a culture that is naturally inquisitive, fearless about challenging the status quo, and able to ask the tough ‘what-if’ questions, said Berkes. He noted that although creativity is crucial, innovation must be founded on data and objective assessment. “Innovation requires continuous learning—it’s the fuel of innovation,” he said. “It’s just as important to understand why something didn’t work, as it is to know why something else did.”
  • Commitment: Innovation requires a commitment to taking educated risks and executing them, even while knowing they are likely to fail, said Berkes. And innovation at-scale requires the long view: “The overnight successes are the exception rather than the norm,” said Berkes. “You have to be ready to invest knowing that payoffs are years down the road.”


Exploring the Data Science Opportunity in Tampa Bay

During the data science panel, Taylor Howard—vice president of AgileThought’s Build practice and moderator for the discussion—cited a PwC study that says global GDP will be 14% higher in 2030 as a result of AI and data science. So, how is the Tampa market seizing the data science opportunity already?

Fellow panelist Dana Rollison, Ph.D.—the Moffit Cancer Center’s chief data officer and associate center director of data science and division chief—said data science helps propel the organization’s mission to cure cancer by driving discovery on the research side as well as innovation on the care delivery side.

On the research side, she said, they’ve implemented a quantitative science division within the research institute, which houses all of the faculty-level data scientists. “Our integrated mathematical oncology group can model changes over time in terms of a patient’s response to therapy, so they can tailor that therapy as patients respond,” said Dr. Rollison. “We also have our biostatistics and bioinformatics group, which looks at harnessing the value of molecular data and the genomics that come from cancer tissues to find new ways to treat those cancers.”  On the care delivery side, she added, these same methods are used to improve quality of bone marrow transplants by predicting blood-borne infections and improve the overall patient experience by predicting which claims may not be covered by insurance.

Wes Chaar, Ph.D. and the chief data and analytics officer of Catalina, also explained how Catalina uses data science to personalize the shopping experience. “We have the biggest shopper database in the world—we know what people buy and things they are interested in,” said Dr. Chaar. The better off our database is, he said, the more we can personalize the experience and create offers that are really meaningful to each customer.

To learn more about these discussions or the event’s other panels and speakers, visit the PoweredUP event webpage. And don’t forget to check out our blog for more industry insights, helpful tips and upcoming events.

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