RSAC 2023 Key Takeaways – Those San Francisco Blues

May 10, 2023By Jim PopleInsights

The near-11-hour flight from San Francisco to London gave me plenty of time to think about what I would take away from an absorbing and action-packed four days at RSA Conference in California. As it was my first time attending the flagship event in The Golden City, it was an unrivalled experience spread across three main conference centres and overflowing into countless hotels and meeting rooms on the periphery of the main event.

When I wasn’t overawed by the cultural centre of Northern California, there was of course, work to do, and a busy programme of networking, information gathering, and client support to get underway when we touched down in San Francisco. Here are my most prominent thoughts from a highly successful trip:

International events are back

By now, we are all well aware of the break from real-world events that 2020 brought about, which we won’t go into here. But if there needed to be a sign that events are back and bigger than ever, I certainly saw it at RSA. In fact, it was almost as if the last three years didn’t happen.

Understandably, the 2022 event – the first to return to in-person attendance for visitors – was a cautious endeavour; it must have been a little like treading on glass to see what the turnout would be. But, from speaking to contacts on the ground this year, especially those that had travelled from outside the United States, RSA was back to full strength!

Stop the press!

C8 had six clients in attendance at RSA and there were some knockout press announcements with some very high-profile partners. Notwithstanding our own agenda of news, every company in attendance seemingly had recent partnerships, product/solution updates, or research to announce on their individual stands in the two-week window that preceded and covered RSA.

Of course, big announcements are normally timed to coincide with big events, but this year’s packed agenda only supports the theory that events such as RSA are still seen as the primary arena for organisations to make a big splash. With 623 companies officially registered for RSA and countless more attending, walking around the conference and seeing this pipeline of announcements served as a reminder of the sheer number of companies and solutions in the market to meet existing and future cybersecurity challenges.

Key takeaway – global news wire services are likely taking a long-overdue break!

Networking, networking, networking

A large global event like RSA takes months of preparation, and C8 was no different to the thousands of other attendees! Since 2023 kicked off, we’ve been busy identifying the multitude of agency partners, clients, media, influencers, analysts, and other industry colleagues that we have accumulated over the years, to make our trip across the pond as worthwhile as possible. This homework certainly paid off in spades; we were able to hold meet and greets with some of our most valued partners, some of which we have never had the opportunity to meet in person.

The multitude of coffee stands and beer buckets were of course, a treat, but they formed the perfect watering hole to build upon close relationships with global contacts after a long drought of zoom meetings. So much of what transpires in PR, whether that’s a new business pitch or referral, is based just as much on cultivating networks, and not just in the media.

It was a fantastic feeling to build upon C8’s and my own personal black book of contacts at RSA and continue to cement long-standing relationships for the future. Who knows what it will bring!

Up-and-coming companies of tomorrow

Tucked away on the upper floors of the Moscone Center’s South Expo, in the aptly-named Early Stage Expo, were a host of booths featuring the companies of tomorrow. I am happy to report, these stands were attracting a lot of attention. Companies such as Snyk, Right-Hand Cybersecurity, Endor Labs, and, most intriguingly for me, Token Ring, which has devised a biometric smart ring to solve existing authentication issues.

It was so refreshing to see something tangible and real, which you could get your hands on (or in!), in the world of cyber. Just when you think you’ve seen it all! I have no doubt that these ambitious organisations will quickly transfer to the main halls of the ground floor in future editions of RSA.

On a parting note, San Francisco is a great city to visit in Spring, and the perfect location for RSA to host its flagship North American conference. I for one am looking forward to returning in the coming years, and witnessing how the show continues to evolve.