October has already been an exciting month for BetterCloud. Last week, we hosted Altitude, our annual customer summit, in Denver, Colorado. It was our best customer summit yet, with over 140 IT and security professionals attending. Over the course of two days, 30 speakers from all over the country gave insights and tips on security automation, SaaS management efficiency, and the future of IT and technology.
Everyone was also able to hear from our Product team on all the exciting features we’ve released thus far, including nine features that were released at Altitude. Moreover, we had our entire Product team present on the upcoming roadmap, giving those in the audience the opportunity to help shape it with their feedback.
Here are six takeaways from the conference:
1. Our keynote speaker offered his vision on the future of technology
Tom Koulopoulos, a global thought leader on the future of business and technology, kicked off the day with a captivating chat on technological change. According to Koulopoulos, disruptive change is difficult to predict because the future is almost never a linear progression of the past. In order to truly disrupt, technologists must think differently and solve challenges that remove friction from people’s lives. In doing so, we must neither rely on computers nor reject them; instead, humans must learn to collaborate with AI and computers as equals.
2. Yousuf Khan explained what executives have come to expect from IT
As almost every company shifts to becoming a “technology” company, IT’s role is increasingly important. Khan, a veteran technology CIO, offered his view on what other parts of the business demand from the modern IT executive. He cited communicating effectively and speaking the language of the business as equally important to technical skills. Want to eventually become a part of the C suite? Khan recommends owning a project that delivers change. An innovative project can catalyze subject matter expertise and open up leadership opportunities.
To watch Khan’s entire presentation, check out the video below.
3. Sustainable scaling was a hot topic
What would your first 90 days look like at a new company if you were the first IT hire? How would that vision change if you were told the company planned to scale from 50 people to over 500 in a matter of months? That was the challenge Jay Clark, Head of IT at Bird, has faced in 2018. In a discussion with fellow IT startup veteran Dave Jackson, Clark told the audience what it’s been like to work at Bird, a company that’s already being valued at $2 billion a little after one year in business. In a few short months, he’s traversed challenges ranging from provisioning users quickly to rolling out an MDM solution internationally.
His advice for other fast-growing startups: Think like an enterprise customer even when your company is small, push hard for hiring, and use shadow IT as a conduit for what the business needs.
4. Automation is the key to management efficiency and security
First up was the management panel where our panelists from Zocdoc, BuzzFeed, and Orange Drive IT shared their best practices for streamlining manual and repetitive tasks, and how they’ve addressed the challenges of working in fast-growing organizations. Their tips included the following: Start by automating the things that frustrate you the most, create documentation for users to self-service, and open up IT office hours so employees see the team as a resource rather than a hindrance.
Our second panel was around security automation. IT and security leaders from Squarespace, ThoughtWorks, and Zocdoc discussed how they use automation to stay on top of their ever-evolving security needs and requirements. They all agreed it’s important to ingrain a culture of security first. Employees want to be secure, but they need to be educated on what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it.
5. Common risk areas for SaaS environments include email forwarding, exposed sensitive data, and more
This year, we developed an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) who have helped you uncover blind spots and enforce policies. Our EAG team has completed hundreds of implementations, totaling over 600 hours of implementation. They’ve seen it all.
Two members from our EAG team, Michael Stone and Priscilla Vencat, shared what they’ve seen since we created our EAG team about a year ago. They walked the audience through five common risk areas they’ve witnessed: email forwarding, overextended privileges, exposed sensitive information, external shares, and IT operations.
Through their implementation and consulting work, they have uncovered a worrisome number of exposed risk areas. For example, in one specific instance, they found that a company had 206 users — including three executives — forwarding all of their corporate emails to personal Gmail accounts.
6. IT loves bourbon and bacon!
BetterClouders love to party, and this year continued the trend. We threw our party this year at The ViewHouse, which gave us views some amazing of the Rocky Mountains and the ballpark. The theme was Bourbon & Bacon, which was evidenced by the surplus of bacon foods we had as appetizers: bacon-wrapped dates, bacon-wrapped asparagus, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, and good ol’ regular bacon strips.