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From the Innovation Sandbox and bustling expo floor to the Codebreakers Bash and closing keynote by actor Sean Penn, RSA Conference 2016 was one for the books. With nearly 40,000 conference goers, 500 security vendors, 700 sessions, 300 reporters, bloggers and analysts in attendance, and dozens of vendor events and after-hours parties, schedules were jam packed last week and energy was high.

Aside from some of the hottest new technologies and cool security startups to watch, this year’s RSA event had a lot to offer when it comes to thought provoking content and standout themes. From what we heard from conversations with attendees, reporters and clients and experienced throughout the week, IoT, cloud, machine learning and IT/security analytics were a few major areas of focus. Another pressing topic of conversation at the event was around the challenges of hiring and properly training the cybersecurity workforce. With cyber threats continuing to increase in both frequency and sophistication, now is the time to recruit security experts, and what better place to do that than RSA?

Perhaps the most dominant discussion echoing in the halls of the Moscone and everywhere in between was the controversial Apple vs. FBI debate and the implications of government encryption backdoors. This heated topic will continue drawing attention and media coverage for a long time to come, so it wasn’t surprising to see RSA booth surveys exploring info-sharing, encryption, law enforcement and national security.

Above all, conferences like RSA offer the opportunity to rub elbows and network with the best and brightest in the technology and security industries, and this year was no exception. Walking the expo floor was an assault to the senses, with industry leaders and conference sponsors like Dell, Cisco and others demoing new products and educating attendees on best practices to mitigate risk. It was also great to see our own clients on the show expo floor demonstrating their latest and greatest security technologies!

Finally, after a busy week of briefings, cocktail parties, and other fun events, the Merritt Group team – complete with members of both our San Francisco and Virginia offices –  hosted our third annual “RSA Wine-Down” event to unwind, relax and close out this year’s conference on a high note. This year, we co-sponsored the party with Code Red, a new global PR network that Merritt Group has just joined, which added to all the fun! At the party, clients, former clients, reporters, analysts and vendors alike joined us at Bluestem Brasserie to raise a toast to years of great partnerships and surviving yet another crazy RSA week! To all those who joined us, we thank you for coming and we hope you enjoyed the party. To those unable to attend, we’ll see you at RSA 2017!

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