Cisco’s Successful Launch at ISC
I was still harboring a lingering doubt when I walked into the ISC registration area to pick up my badge and head into the Cisco keynote marking the company’s offical launch into the physical security market. Cisco was, after all, taking a huge risk. Guido Jouret, CTO of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group was going to give a presentation on Cisco’s vision regarding security and communcations. And I don’t know about you, but I have found that more often than not, IT geeks have a nasty habit of making disparaging remarks about physical security. I’ve heard it from the mouths of Oracle, Symantec and coutless other IT execs regerring to knuckle-dgraggin security guards or other signs of "disgraceful" disdain for technology. Imagine if Jouret had mispoke and let any of those kinds of sentiments slip – the entire industry would have turned its back.
The other risk Cisco took was talking "over" the audience. It is a natural tendency for IT folks to fall into the opaque language of IT-speak, which commonly alienates a non-IT listener.
So here we were – a physical security audience listeneing to an IT industry executive (a CTO no less) talking to us about "our" industry. The chance of failure was titanic.
After the keynote, I took a barometric reading. Folks all around me used words like "smooth," "eloquent," and "Sensitive." When was the last time you heard a keynote speaker at a security show described as "sensitive?!" Heck, I usually have to have a buddy from Jersey translate for me! Jouret surprised everyone by articulating the Cisco vision without even a hint of the snooty superiority we often hear from IT folks. He even handled some tough questions from the audience with calm confidence – so much so that many of us couldn’t tell that he was completely new to the physical security world.
When I thought I was hearing a complaint from the attendees, I came to find that it was a neutral comment. "The presentation was very ‘Cisco-y’" Several folks commented that there was an unusually heavy emphasis on Cisco and its branding. Like a sales pitch. HID or Bosch never could have gotten away with that. But actually those same folks were actually somewhat grateful to hear this mysterious giant now lurking in our midst apparently openly revealing itself – demystifying – exposing itself to our inquiry and crutiny. Again, a big risk, but one that paid off.
Later in the day I visited the Cisco booth and could not imagine how any more ISC attendees could pack themselves in. Even the Cisco execs were banished from the booth, forced to conduct their meetings in the aisles around the crowd.
So it’s official. Cisco is now a member of the family, a physical security vendor. What a ride it’s gonna be.