Interviewed by Ulrich Mans
Innovation Attaché Network

Joost Van Hest

Dutch cyber companies have long attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco, which is one of the world’s largest cyber conferences with 50,000 participants from all over the globe. In 2020, the Netherlands will step up its game by bringing together innovative cyber companies to present their expertise in one Holland Pavilion.

As preparations for the RSA have started, we asked Joost van Hest, senior vice president of sales and solutions at EclecticIQ, a Dutch company with a major presence in the US, to speak with us about the most recent trends in cybersecurity, what he expects from the RSA Conference, and what the Netherlands has to offer the American market.

Over the last three years, Eclecticiq developed a successful portfolio with large clients. What are major differences to your European portfolio? 

When we look at recent developments in the American market, we finally see an uptick among our US clients in the field of compliance. This is not the most exciting part of our portfolio, but it is critical if you want to do business in a digital environment. The more you work with digital applications, the more you depend on seamless dataflows. Because these flows are often global in nature, international standards are key. With the GDPR, European regulation has created a new playing field with new types of standards. Our US colleagues have, I think, underestimated the importance of what GDPR means to their businesses’ digital strategy.

So, should compliance be a priority theme for the upcoming RSA Conference?

In 2019, we already saw an increased interest in GDPR-related themes during the conference, and I expect that we will see even more when we meet in San Francisco early next year. At the same time, we will (and should) also have many conversations about third-party risk management, data sharing protocols, and cybersecurity for mobile devices.

How do these trends relate to buzz words such as the Internet of Things, 5G and artificial intelligence?

IoT and 5G will basically lead to more connected devices, and therefore reflect a greater need to safeguard secure and fast data flows. You have to make sure that across the entire supply chain, protocols and standards work well, and that threats from outside are detected in time. As deployment of 5G and IoT platforms continues, the cyber sector will naturally shift to address these needs once the needs of clients increase.

What about artificial intelligence?

That’s a different story. I think we are still far away from deploying fully automated applications that can detect threats real-time, decide on a mitigation strategy, and then execute accordingly without human interference. We do see, however, that data collection has become paramount to being a successful player in cybersecurity. An increasing amount of companies invest in “data lakes,” which can then serve as the basis for pattern recognition and advanced analytics. Smaller companies may do this by starting with a featured set of data in a particular sector and then offer premium services as a business model. Larger players can use their extensive datasets on calamities to improve their systems along the way. On these issues I expect a lot of conversations during the RSA 2020.

When you look at the innovation landscape in the various sectors, where can one find the front runners in cyber?

We still see most traction in the finance sector. But you should also watch the energy and utility sector in the coming years. Critical infrastructure has to work without interruption; and increasingly cyber is moving center stage for those who are working on scaled, real-time services, such as finance and energy. If you are interested for the latest cyber-related innovations, these are good places to look. 

What does the Netherlands have to offer for US companies?

In a general sense, the Netherlands has a good reputation in the US when it comes to innovation. Dutch companies are well-connected, both to colleagues in the private sector as well as the public sector. And governmental players in the Netherlands are above-average willing to adopt new ideas. Because of this, US clients generally not only get a product, they also gain access to the expertise of a wider network.

More specifically, the Dutch have two elements that play to their advantage. First, the Netherlands is a trading nation. We therefore have a longstanding tradition in trade and logistics. For the cyber world, this translates into an excellent proposition for managing complex supply chains, a growing concern for many US clients. Second, with a relatively small home market of 17 million, we always look beyond national borders. This exposure means that we like to interact with many stakeholders, and we are often well-informed about what is happening elsewhere. This is a great advantage in particular in the field of threat detection. The better your situational awareness, the better you can serve your clients to improve their cyber standards.