Our guest today was recently named by LinkedIn as one of the top five people to follow in cybersecurity issues among their 500 million members. He was also just selected as LinkedIn to be an advisor on cybersecurity and emerging technology issues, and we’re lucky enough to have him here in the studio– Chuck Brooks of Chuck Brooks Consulting. Chuck, thanks for joining us.
Brooks: Thank you, Johnathan, it’s a pleasure.
Aberman: Well, it’s always a pleasure to have here in the studio, and I do follow you and your content. It’s terrific, and because of that, I wanted to get you in the studio early in the new year. Let’s talk about some of things that you’re seeing from your standpoint as a technology expert. What are we seeing? Let’s start with the government’s sector in 2018. How are you feeling about it, do you think it’s healthy? Is it going to be a good year?
Brooks: I think it’s going to be a good year. I mean there’s some issues that might impede that, one being the issue with the budget, but, however, I think with spending now, particularly in the defense, national security areas, there’ll be a lot of innovation spending, there’ll be a lot of potential for new employment, and I think not as much on the domestic side, but there will spending there too. I think they’re using a private sector model, which is good for a lot of the companies that are in this area, that want to share their expertise and work on best practices that they’re for familiar with on the commercial side, so I think it could be a pretty good year, and it seems to be right now that the stock market is reflecting that.
Aberman: Well, yes, the stock market’s, reflecting many things– so is Bitcoin, and we’ve definitely entered a period of exuberance, that’s for sure. You said private sector, that struck me–what do you mean by that? The government buying or acting like a private sector?
Brooks: Well, I think government is traditionally been way behind on on procurement issues and recently, enactment of legislation for modernization has taken place. They’re trying to replace a lot of legacy systems– IT systems, but under the last administration, particularly under the Obama administration, now under this administration, which share this sort of same viewpoint, they’re using the expertise, particularly in the digital world, from the Googles and Microsofts and others, and they’re having an impact on how government conducts business. And part of this is sort of upgrading those legacy systems, but also looking at new areas of opportunities with blockchain on ledgers in the Treasury Department, looking at potential artificial intelligence applications in government for analytics, and for predictive analytics, especially, and cybersecurity, is probably the biggest area. I think there’s a lot of expertise on the outside that has not been developed necessarily on the inside or may been developed and not shared. So I think those areas are certainly areas with growth for the government.
Aberman: So even with the changing administration, which can often slow things down as people learn about their new roles, be it with the changing administration or perhaps some of the sideshows we’ve seen around this president acting different from the last one, and in their PR role, from the standpoint of acquiring technology, have the innovation efforts of the Obama administration maintained place and can they continue to expand?
Brooks: Yeah. I think that they’ve remained in place. You know, I think the policies are really run by professionals in these sub-agencies and agencies and they’re looking at basically with more austere budgets and getting more bang for the buck and that relies on sort of using new technologies, and testing new technologies, and building faster prototypes. That was all started under Obama, and now it’s still continuing under Trump.
Aberman: So things like the cloud, artificial intelligence, blockchain, internet of things, cybersecurity, all the things you mentioned– they’re going to find their way more and more into the government?
Brooks: Yeah. Not only that, they’re national security issues. Because if you look at competitors around the world, particularly China, who just invested 2.1 billion dollars into an artificial intelligence park, and you look at the rest of the world working in supercomputing and other things, the United States cannot afford to be lax, particularly when it comes to national security preparedness. So if they don’t work in these emerging technology areas, the United States is going to be left behind. Plus, I think some of the basic areas, such as robotic process automation where they’re automating lot the the back office functions of government, just make common sense.
Aberman: So, this region has traditionally been looked at as a region that’s really, really good at integrating technologies and providing them in a service model. Other parts of the country, like Silicon Valley or Austin or Boston, are seen more as delivering technology as a product. How do you think our region’s configured to take advantage of these trends?
Brooks: Well, I think that that trend has been changing over the last few years. I think there’s a lot more innovation clusters and VC money now in this area, primarily because they’ve recognized the talent inside the DoD, NSA, and a lot of the other agencies tends to stay in this area. They go and work for the beltway companies, or they go off and do their own thing academically. But there’s a lot of talent that sort of matches Silicon Valley’s talent over here, and I think that the government’s starting to recognizing that, and there’s many more opportunities that are evolving because of that.
Aberman: I certainly saw this recently–I worked with the Greater Washington Partnership, we looked at the cybersecurity talent base and you’re absolutely right–the talent here’s exceptional. We have a real, interesting challenge insofar as that we have a brain drain, you know, still, and a lot of the folks that go to Silicon Valley and elsewhere, in areas like cyber security, really developed their chops here. You talked about the VC industry. What else do we need, or are we lacking here to really jump-start or continue accelerating entrepreneurial behavior around these emerging technologies?
Brooks: Well, I think that since we have Maryland and Baltimore and Virginia and Richmond, and of course Washington D.C., I think what is needed is probably more of a focus on R&D. We have these natural areas of R&D in DARPA, ARPA, IARPA in government and they need to be cultivated, and I think that’s one of the areas. But I think also it’s sort of a perception issue. Once more of the country and most the international community recognizes that a lot decisions are made now in Washington, and procurement comes out of Washington, it make sense to be nearby, and there’s certainly a lot of opportunities and capabilities here.
Aberman: Yeah, we kid around from time to time about how Al Gore invented the internet, but the reality is that everything that matters on a cell phone, and most of the technology we take for granted today, it came out of federal R&D done here in this region. Chuck, last thing before I let you go–what’s the big technology area that you don’t think is getting enough attention now that’s really gonna explode into people’s consciousness in 2018 the way, say, Bitcoin did in 2017?
Brooks: I have to say, probably, the internet of things. I mean it’s been talked about, it’s there, there’s fifty billion connected devices now. And it’s just happening so exponentially that people aren’t prepared for it, and that leads to a huge cybersecurity issue, because of all the different manufacturers and the different regulators that deal with these connectivities, so I think we’re going to run into some huge issues with cybersecurity, and that’s going to be in government and the private sector in the next year.
Aberman: So, if people want to take advantage of your LinkedIn expertise, or elsewhere, where do they follow you now?
Brooks: Definitely follow me on LinkedIn, and you could follow me on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks, and also my new company, which I formed recently, Brooks Consulting International, focusing on emerging technologies and cybersecurity, you can visit my website.
Aberman: Another example, folks, of an entrepreneur who was working hard for other companies and realized he just needed to start his own business!
Brooks: Yeah, I think that’s part of the Washington experience!
Aberman: Absolutely, Chuck! Thanks for joining us, we’ll have you again soon.