SpiceWorld Virtual 2021 Event Recap: 3 Key Takeaways


SpiceWorld Virtual 2021, the three-day premier technology conference that concluded on September 29, gave IT professionals a glimpse into what’s in store in the world of IT in 2021 and beyond. Aside from offering a peek into the annual State of IT report from the Spiceworks stable, the conference packed insightful sessions offering the latest trends in endpoint security, email security, ransomware protection, cloud adoption, what’s new with 5G, enabling a hybrid workplace, and more. Let’s look at some of the key highlights from SpiceWorld Virtual 2021 and other details IT professionals and tech buyers can’t afford to miss.

SpiceWorld Virtual 2021 kicked off on September 27 with a curtain-raiser featuring Spiceworks Ziff Davis’ EVP and global general manager Richard Jalichandra, vice president of product, Liz Ronco, and director of community Sean Dahlberg offering key insights on the latest developments in the tech industry that managed to stay afloat amidst severe disruptions and financial challenges in the year gone by. 

The 2021 edition drew over 6,800 event registrations from the IT industry and boasted 69 tech sessions featuring 80 speakers representing the who’s who in the technology sector, including the likes of Intel, Dell Technologies, Cisco, RingCentral, T-Mobile, Google Android Enterprise, CrowdStrike, Salesforce, ManageEngine, and other leading tech giants. 

The three-day event also featured a keynote delivered by Apple cofounder Steve Wozniack. Some of the other must-attend interactive sessions featured discussions around trending topics such as scripting and automation, systems management, infrastructure, IT security, cloud, policies, procedures, remote working, and soft skills for IT pros. An impressive 747 IT professionals, CXOs, and developers attended each general session/keynote on average, and the rest of the sessions clocked nearly 150 participants on average over three exciting days. 

See More: SpiceWorld Virtual 2021: Top Highlights & Insights From Leading Tech CXOs

The Keynote: Steve Wozniak on the Evolving Role of Developers

The main highlight of the three-day conference was a fireside chat between Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Richard Jalichandra, the global EVP and GM of Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD). In the virtual session attended by over 6,000 IT professionals, Wozniak stressed the need to maintain simplicity in what developers do.

“Elegant simplicity means that a product looks good to the eye. Even smaller things like getting the corners right, really does look kind of attractive. So attractiveness and simplicity is important. As I said before, form follows function is a key to architectural design. So developers should be somewhat the architects as well. If a developer spreads out and knows building components and the architecture, you can wind up with a great product without having to hire a whole ton of skill sets,” he said.

Wozniak also talked about a lack of transparency in how tech companies handle user data, resulting in a lack of clarity among end-users on how their data is used or processed by the companies they deal with. “What happens in the aftermath of a breach is also a significant grey area. I would really hope for a change there, I wish we had some kind of regulation here,” he said.

Cybersecurity in the Hybrid Work Era

A major talking point at SpiceWorld Virtual 2021 was how organizations are handling cybersecurity at a time when most of them have a significant proportion of workers operating remotely. Jolene Tam and Miriam Kung from Cisco talked about the effectiveness of the zero-trust approach and simplicity in security for companies, especially small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Aaron Birnbaum from Seron Security highlighted the plethora of new attack vectors that emerged following the rapid shift to remote work.

The conference featured another insightful session, “Next Level Of Endpoint Security For Today’s IT Pro,” wherein Alicia Bowling from Dell Technologies and Eric Townsend from Intel highlighted how organizations can maximize cyber resilience, improve their security posture, and defeat future ransomware attacks. Cisco’s security technical leader Eric Howard and Grayson Milbourne, security intelligence director at Webroot, also touched upon how the ransomware threat can be mitigated in the year ahead.

John Trest, chief learning officer at Inspired eLearning, also offered advice on tackling the human factor by laying down ways to motivate employees to pay more attention to security awareness programs. “Information obtained via security training programs is quickly forgotten by employees and many of them don’t even feel motivated to actively participate in such programs. These are major challenges that organizations must strive to handle,” he said.

Watch Trest’s session, “The Vital Components of an Effective Security Awareness Program”, here

See More: SpiceWorld Virtual 2021: Webroot’s Grayson Milbourne On Ransomware Prevention & Response

Why SpiceWorld Matters for IT Professionals

Day 3 of SpiceWorld Virtual started with an interactive fireside chat hosted by Spiceworks director of community Sean Dahlberg and featuring Mark DePalma, chief technology officer and Elizabeth Ronco, VP of product at SWZD. The trio spoke about why conferences like SpiceWorld enable IT professionals to engage with experienced practitioners in the field and apply their learnings in their respective fields. “SpiceWorld is huge because it’s the one time of year where we can really give a platform, not only to what we’re doing and be extremely transparent with our users about what we’re developing but give them a chance to be transparent with us,” said Ronco.

Dana Moberly, senior manager for Marketing Events at Spiceworks Ziff Davis, also spoke about the importance of making SpiceWorld a reality, albeit in a virtual setting. “It was a difficult decision to stay virtual, but in the end, we’re glad that we moved forward with a virtual SpiceWorld in 2021. We knew we’d be up against virtual fatigue this year,” she said.

“In order to keep people coming back each day of the event, we had to think creatively and strategically. We increased our event communications so that people wouldn’t forget what new and exciting things we had in store for them each day. Additionally, we added more engagement and chat options within the platform so that attendees would feel more connected and conversational. Also, having Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple as our keynote speaker was a highlight for the event,” Moberly added. 

Data privacy also featured among the top taking points on Day 3. Mark DePalma spoke about the company’s sensitivity towards data privacy and honor data subjects’ rights. “We are very, very concerned about privacy and respecting everyone’s privacy, on a personal level. We’re really striving hard to make sure that we’re following those best practices and guidelines to make sure that we’re respecting everybody’s privacy, giving everybody the opportunity to opt-out or get what we call data subject access requests fulfilled, so they can figure out what kind of data we do have, and give you a choice to either have it removed or to opt out from certain pieces of things that we’re offering here,” he said. 

Derek Brink from Aberdeen Strategy & Research, SWZD, also offered tips on how IT professionals can communicate effectively with senior management. “To explain it to them it is important that IT pros speak the language of risk,” he said. Further, to help senior management make informed decisions, IT pros should a) explain the risk under the status quo, b) explain why the risk is unacceptable, c) explain how the recommendations made by the IT team can mitigate the risk. 

Check out the rest of our comprehensive coverage of SpiceWorld Virtual 2021 below:

What were your top takeaways from the insightful sessions at SpiceWorld Virtual 2021? Comment below or let us know on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!