We launched our platform and the Human Managed I.DE.A (Intelligence, DEcisions, Actions) at GovWare Conference. This is our transformative experience in running an exhibition booth and many other things for the first time.
Back in June 2022, we took the decision to be a Platinum Plus Sponsor of GovWare, Asia’s largest cybersecurity event held in Singapore. This year was its 7th edition — the first in-person conference since 2019, and was anticipating over 10,000 participants (and in the end, did have that many participants!).
Initially there was push back from the team: “We are not ready for a stage as big as GovWare” / “We’ve never run an event before” / “Why don’t we start with a smaller scale event first?”
These were all valid concerns, but we had a stronger case to go for it:
- COVID-19 hit soon after our inception. Borders shut down and we were forced to build and grow 100% remotely. This equipped us with a lot of valuable learnings on distributed work, but it also slowed us down, especially when it came to creative, synchronous work. So we missed a few opportunities to share our work in the market in a way that was impactful enough. Now was not the time to wait a little longer – it was time to go big.
- Immediate market feedback from customers, suppliers and partners is invaluable — we wanted to see how people who don’t know us interact with our products with zero prior knowledge.
- Immense learning opportunity to be surrounded by such a rich variety of cybersecurity players in the ecosystem, from industry behemoths to startups.
- External pressure, when applied appropriately, can boost motivation and effectiveness. This was the moment for our entire team to jump straight into the pit and show what we’ve got.
And oh, are we glad we did it.
The I.DE.A that solves the problem of the Information Age
There are countless problems in the Information Age. The particular one we have chosen to solve is indecision and inaction from information overload.
Our problem statement became clearer and simpler over the years, after continuously researching the market and observing directly from our customers.
Organizations today have a lot of data.
What they do not have, however, are what comes after the data. “Now you have it, what do you do with it?” :
- Intelligence. They are not getting relevant intelligence from their data when they need it.
- Decision. They are unable to take effective and responsible decisions from data.
- Action. They are not making progress on executing their decisions because things get dropped or get blocked by inefficient processes.
The best intelligence and decisions are of no use if they are not followed up with actions. So, we built a platform that doesn’t do just one thing but many things. At our core, we: generate intelligence, recommend decisions, and track actions.
We call this the Human Managed I.DE.A. — and this naturally became our leading message for GovWare. Check out our 30 seconds teaser video.
Our service flows turns data to intel (Discover, Profile, Detect) and intel into decision (Triage, Course of Action) and decision into action (React or Resolve).
The booth for design thinking and open source
For our booth, we wanted to openly share our thinking and execution behind our products and services.
We use flow charts and sticky notes whenever we do design thinking, so it made perfect sense to use our booth’s double-sided walls to display the functions, logics, and flows that literally run our platform services.
We don’t have teams for marketing, branding or events, but by sticking to our core values, we had our DIY booth design that was distinctively ‘HM’ in a matter of a few weeks.
This was a fun and spontaneous session: finalizing our artworks and planning their placements based on the traffic flow in our booth.
The team got hands-on to test mounting our wall displays in our office.
Inside the walls, our booth area was divided into two to represent our ‘front stage’ and ‘back stage’.
The front stage was set up like a studio for our platform’s Present stack — our web application. We had multiple touch screens for visitors to interact with and ask questions on our product.
In contrast to the clean and simple front stage, the back stage was designed for interactive and creative conversations. We had physical whiteboards and sticky notes covering an entire wall for design thinking discussions, workshops, and brainstorming sessions.
Put the components all together and, voila! There it was: the Human Managed platform.
It was a surreal and emotional moment to see our ideas come to life in the middle of the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre — the largest exhibition venue in Singapore.
The interactions between the ecosystem players
Our goals for GovWare were simple: to share our I.DE.A with our ecosystem, and get up to five quality conversations with potential users, customers, and partners. We are proud to have achieved them and much more.
The energy and interest from the crowd were beyond our expectations.
Private and public sectors from various countries strongly resonated with the problem we are solving.
And of course, we didn’t go without some engaging whiteboard sessions.
The highs of facing the unknowns
GovWare was an event of many firsts for us, stretching ourselves in ways we couldn’t imagine until we found ourselves breaking through the only things that were imagined in the first place: limits.
A few highlights to note:
- I gave a talk on how businesses can achieve their digital transformation expectations through cybersecurity, in a world that is totally distributed and ‘invisible’. The entire process from preparation to delivery was not easy, but extremely rewarding and fun. More than anything, I was excited to share HM’s perspective on a topic that is a challenge for anyone running a digital business today. More on this in a separate blog soon.
A slide from my talk that illustrates the huge amount of data exchange that happens throughout a distributed supply chain of assets of a digital business. Here I highlight the data flow throughout the ‘invisible’ side of the business that lies behind the front-facing web application (i.e. between the machine-to-machine interactions such as APIs and code.)
- All of the team got in front of the camera to speak about their domain — unscripted and on the fly. Their initial hesitation didn’t last long, and in no time they were sharing confidently about their work, in their own words and styles. Follow our YouTube channel where these content will be uploaded soon!
All smiles for lights, camera, action!
- We demonstrated a deployment of our partner Crowdstrike’s Falcon LogScale log management solution in less than three minutes on Kubernetes, using: a) Crossplane (an infrastructure control plane) to provision compute resources independent of cloud provider. b) a CD pipeline with ArgoCD to install the LogScale operator.
Our Chief Engineer (aka. MicroBuilder) Jesum destroys and builds a log management service in less than 3 minutes using Crossplane and ArgoCD.
The months leading up to GovWare were the most stimulating experience I’ve had to date at Human Managed.
Everything we had shown at GovWare, we have built ourselves, from the messaging, to the web app, to the booth artworks. And to get market reaction and feedback real time on something that you’ve poured your everything into is an indescribable experience.
We’ve learned so many valuable lessons. Here are a few.
- Build for internal resiliency, not external glory. Videos and photos only tell a small, curated portion of the reality. There were so many curveballs and multiple things did not go to plan. We had technical issues at the eleventh hour before the event. In the end, some team members (including those that were going to lead some key demos and workshops) were not able to attend the conference at all. But we backed each other up. Some things were completely missed, but some other things turned out better than plan A. There were no unexpected curveballs that our team was not capable of handling and that was the much more important part, not whether everything was presented as we intended.
- Doubts (both self-inflicted and external) will always be there. But keep going and give it your best. You never know who might be inspired by your example. Startups less than two years old came up to our booth to learn from our journey — they said they were motivated by our presence, especially as a fellow Singaporean startup. A student came to ask whether we had any work opportunity because she got inspired by talking to a few of our team members. Getting this kind of feedback was awesome. Going forward, we hope to inspire many more in our ecosystem as well as continue to learn from them.
- You will never be fully ready, but you are (almost always) more ready than you think.
- Create a challenging but supportive environment where your team can try new things on their own. An event or conference is a great one, but so are other initiatives, like an impromptu video shoot ;)
We felt like we’ve aged a few years by the time the conference was over. Internally, we joke about “Life Before GovWare” and “Life After GovWare”. There is definitely some truth to this, in that the conference was a marker of a state change for us.
We’ve been sprinting for as long as we can remember. But we all know that life after GovWare is just another starting line, with more spring in our sprints and a growing conviction that we are on the right path.
Thank you to everyone who has interacted with us. Your feedback, encouragements and critiques gave us so much clarity on the next steps to improve on our products and services. We would love to have more of you along on our journey.
- Want to conduct an I.DE.A workshop or build a prototype in less than two weeks? Have an idea for collaboration or partnership? Feedback on our products and services? Book a meeting with us.
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Note: This blog was originally published in November 2022 and has been updated for accuracy.