As a life-long product manager, I’ve spent my share of long days enduring booth duty. And many of those days were spent in futile attempts to contort my product’s capabilities into a booth visitor’s challenge in Houdini-like fashion. Booth days are physically taxing under the best circumstances, but the mental strain of repetitively forcing a square product into a round problem is far more exhausting.
That’s why last month’s Shared Assessments Summit in Baltimore was so refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, my back was pretty tight by day’s end, and I was looking forward to a seat at the bar when booth hours ended, but far from being mentally drained at the end of the day, my mind was fresh as a daisy. Unlike most shows, no one was there browsing, or simply using the conference as an excuse to sneak off to an Orioles game and a cold National Bohemian beer (“Natty Bo” in Baltimore-speak). To the contrary, attendees came with challenges, and they were looking for solutions.
Several booth visitors were brand new to the 3 rd party risk world, and were looking for knowledge…and the best way to get started. Some had sophisticated assessment processes, but they were manual, and scaling was impossible. Some were doing what they could with limited resources, and were searching for ways to do more with less. All felt the pressure from customers, management, and regulators; many appreciated that this was no longer a box-checking exercise satisfied by sending a questionnaire and storing it in a folder. Very few were satisfied with conventional tools like GRC. So there we stood at the Prevalent booth, armed with products and insights formed in the 3 rd party risk primordial soup. The history of this market may only be 5 or 6 years old, but we were there when the first cells divided.
So our jobs were easy this week. Booth visitors came with problems that we not only were capable of solving, but were actively doing so for others. It was refreshing to say – genuinely and without trepidation – “we can help with that,” or “our product is designed to solve that exact problem” over and over again. I almost felt guilty enjoying myself at the Orioles’ game Tuesday night.