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Adaptability Key to Staying Current with Security Trends

As a new decade dawns and new tech emerges how will you keep up with the changes? Here are three ways to continue growing as a cybersecurity leader and keeping your agency safe in an uncharted future.

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What technologies will be the most disruptive in the 2020s? Is the latest cybersecurity story real or just fake news? Can we protect privacy, given the recent onslaught of data breaches? Can my business function even survive this exponential pace of change?  

Or some ask, will artificial intelligence eliminate my current job?

The tech innovation that has transformed business and government over the past two decades is incredible. And yet, experts urge us to hang on to our collective safety belts — because we ain’t seen nothing yet.

From AI to autonomous vehicles and back-office quantum computing to front-office robots, our world will be turned upside down (again) over the next few years. Smart cities, smart homes and smarter everything else will realign business and public-sector processes and redefine what it means to be tech smart, both at home and at work.     

What’s your plan to stay tech savvy? What tips can help individuals and groups thrive in an environment of constant tech change?

First, truly become a life-long learner. Robert B. Tucker, a futurist who regularly speaks on innovation in leadership, writes that we all need a “personal innovation strategy,” a well-conceived (and written-down) set of goals, habits and daily actions that alert us to threats, help us seize opportunities and ensure our viability over time. Tucker urges us to take at least 15 minutes daily to learn something new about what’s changing in our profession.

Second, share what you know. Our instinct is to hoard knowledge. But freely give it away and help others in their journeys. This will strengthen your skills, since we learn more and become true experts when we effectively teach others. Also, you can become a thought leader within specific tech or security areas by writing articles or blogs, interacting in social media professional communities like LinkedIn, or attending and presenting at conferences.        

Third, break out of the box of your current role. Pick a cutting-edge technology area that interests you and will impact your government or business in the coming years. Volunteer for groups working in these areas, or create your own group — with management support. Perhaps this new area will become your full-time job sooner than you planned.

While this third option may seem like a stretch to some, if you generate good ideas and look for organizational needs that aren’t being met, you’ll be surprised what opportunities management will be open to supporting. Discuss current problems and potential low-cost solutions with your managers. Also, think of partnerships beyond your own organization. What industrywide opportunities can you take advantage of?

For example, when I was an agency CIO in Michigan government at the turn of the millennium, organizational websites were rampant and growing out of control. A group of Web experts joined forces. They saw the unsustainability of hundreds of unique portals in state government, and a desire from leadership to streamline content management and data repositories that would enable enterprisewide solutions with a common look and feel.

By aggressively pursuing this opportunity, our e-Michigan team was able to lead the statewide effort that created and launched Michigan.gov. This was the first .gov enterprise portal in the country for state governments, and broke new ground in dozens of ways, winning awards along the way. Leading security for that new effort set the stage for my becoming the first chief security officer in Michigan.      

Many similar opportunities exist today in governments and businesses worldwide. Cybersecurity will be the key ingredient in many of these projects. The question is, who will take the lead in making these visions a reality using new technology? 

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.
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