ITEN Wired Summit runs gamut of technology

By Richard Conn CREO Staff Writer

Jobs in cybersecurity, data breaches and the increasing importance of drones were just some of the topics covered during the wide-ranging annual ITEN Wired Summit held Oct.12-14 at the Hilton Pensacola Beach.  

The three-day conference hosted by IT Gulf Coast and the Florida West Economic Development Alliance, provides “networking and learning opportunities for executives, entrepreneurs, technology professionals and academia to foster local economic development efforts surrounding innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.”

The summit featured several keynote addresses, a host of breakout sessions and the first ITEN Wired Cyber Competition.
One of the sessions at the conference titled “Job Wars in Cybersecurity” was designed to help jobseekers hone their skills and featured a panel of industry leaders. 

“Those of you that are you looking for positions, this is quality information you are getting,” said Ronda Rotelli, human resources and safety officer with Global Business Solutions, Inc., who moderated the panel discussion. “These are individuals in the Pensacola market that are telling you what they are looking for.”

The panel talked about the challenges of developing the local workforce. 

Randy Ramos, CEO of Global Business Solutions Inc., said during the panel discussion that it was important to spark children’s interest in information technology and cybersecurity fields at an early age, something that programs such as Achieve Escambia strive to accomplish. 

“I think this is the challenge we face in the local community, and that is what we need to do at the elementary school level to inspire the curiosity to pursue in middle school the qualifications that allow you to go into a career academy that’s in the IT and (the) cyberspace (field), that then allows you to go into the next step,” Ramos said.

Doug Underhill, an Escambia County commissioner who is the head of cybersecurity for CSRA, said Escambia County is “ground zero” for the field of cybersecurity.

“Our kids absolutely have everything they need right here in Escambia County to be performing at a national level in this trade,” Underhill said. 

One of the more popular sessions during ITEN Wired was “Here Come the Drones.” It featured a presentation by Alan Gray and Chris Tonn of Pelican Drones, which was the first Federal Aviation Administration-licensed drone company on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Tallahassee.

“I think that the idea that the drone is a flash in the pan that is going to happen and is going to go away – it’s impossible,” Gray said. “Because it does things that helicopters and aerial photos can’t. It does things that ground photography and ground videography can’t. And it’s starting to become regulated to the point where it makes sense and still allows us in the commercial market to make our money.”
Michelle Ward, CEO and founder of Cyber Safe Workforce, gave a presentation called “Securing Your Users.” During the presentation, Ward gave tips on how employers can help structure security awareness and training programs for their employees to help prevent breaches.

“Employees are your unintentional insider threat,” Ward said. “Fifty-two percent of data breaches are caused by human error. We’re going to take cyber threats, use policies, security products. We’re going to boil that down, and we’re going to make it make sense to the end user so that they can comply with your security rules and then they’ll have a better security posture.” 

A Women in Tech panel at ITEN Wired sponsored by Innovation Coast featured Ward, Michelle Horton, director of enrollment and retention management for Complete Florida at the University of West Florida Innovation Institute, and Dr. Eman-El-Sheikh, director for the Center for Cybersecurity at UWF.

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