Every business needs cybersecurity protection, but finding the right fit can be a job in itself.
A new nonprofit organization, the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI), is working to streamline the matchmaking process, while promoting sales and job growth within the state.
Launched in October 2015, CAMI operates Buy MD Cyber (BMC), a program that connects Maryland cyber companies with prospective buyers — locally, nationally and globally — both online and in person.
BMC’s free directory of Maryland cybersecurity companies makes it possible for businesses and individuals to search for local product and service providers, then connect directly with vendors who meet their needs. Searches also can be customized by industry focus and can be filtered by designations, such as minority-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned small business and government contractors.
It all happens with the support of partner organizations that host specific BMC buyer-seller introduction activities or by including BMC and its directory companies in their organizations’ scheduled activities.
CAMI Founder and Chairman Art Jacoby, a Baltimore-based information tecnology (IT) adviser and small business consultant, said the organization fills a unique niche at a critical time.
“The next few years will determine Maryland’s position in the global cybersecurity market, as buyers choose among solution providers to address what is now approaching $500 billion a year in damages,” he said. “We want them to choose Maryland companies and generate thousands of new high-pay jobs here.”
The CAMI board of directors engaged marketing veteran Stacey Smith, former cyber community manager for the former Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, to serve as executive director.
The BMC program, also established by Jacoby, actually predates CAMI by a full year, Smith said.
“The program had so much momentum that the executive board and advisory panel realized it needed a formal nonprofit organization to keep moving forward,” she said.
CAMI currently receives 100% of its support from private industry partners. They include Premier Sponsors Deep Run Security Solutions, Resilience Technology Corp., Raven Data Technologies and Maryland Cyber Investment Partners, along with Supporting Sponsor Whiteford, Taylor & Preston.
The organization receives additional support from the Maryland Department of Commerce, as well as nearly 20 partnering organizations, including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, BWI Business Partnership, Regional Manufacturing Institute, the Maryland Technology Development Corp., Fort Meade Alliance and bwtech@UMBC.
“CAMI provides us with access and visibility to prospects, excellent representation in the state’s fastest growing industry and the ability to [help] grow Maryland’s economy,” said Deep Run Security COO Ken Chodnicki.
Raven Data Technologies Founder and COO Matt Johnson added that the expertise provided by the BMC program’s industry experts began providing immediate benefits to directory members. “We gained additional customers through the program,” he said.
One of CAMI’s advantages is its ability to facilitate face-to-face contact.
“Our partners are working with us to bring business directory members to their events so they can meet each other,” Smith said. “We’ll also be holding signature events with prominent speakers where companies can exhibit and be part of the program.”
CAMI’s upcoming calendar lists approximately 20 such partner events, three signature events and frequently announces impromptu meetup events.
Other unique face-to-face opportunities are made possible through Cyber Solution Exchange events, Smith said, in which large companies bring their cyber executive and cyber teams for personal introductions and to discuss needs of potential customers.
Buy MD Cyber started as a buy local initiative primarily targeting Maryland cybersecurity product and service buyers, Smith said, but quickly took a global promotion focus.
“Why limit ourselves to Maryland if there’s a worldwide market?” she said.
That question prompted CAMI to engage Elkridge-based WebMechanix to market its web site and generate traffic, and to consider other ways to promote Maryland’s cybersecurity industry.
Targeting big opportunities, the Maryland Department of Commerce will represent BMC and CAMI at this year’s RSA Conference in San Francisco, which starts in February. “We’ll also have a presence through the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s trade mission at the Israel Cybertech Conference that takes place [later this month],” Smith said.
Additionally, CAMI is working to develop a partnership with the locally produced U.S. Cybersecurity Magazine and establish a larger presence within the publication.
“Businesses everywhere need better protection from cyber adversaries,” Smith said, adding that Maryland’s cyber companies, many with military and intelligence community backgrounds and locally-produced talent from the state’s academic institutions, are well suited to provide that protection.
Unfortunately, a majority of them have a common disadvantage: a lack of viable connections with business buyers.
“Our objective is straightforward,” Smith said. “Make sure that businesses here in Maryland and around the world meet our state’s cyber companies.”
Another disadvantage that CAMI is working to overcome, Jacoby said, is that Maryland’s business-to-government industry is huge, but the state’s business-to-business cybersecurity industry is still relatively undeveloped.
“Businesses are increasing cybersecurity from 2% to 10% of IT spending within five years,” he said. “By choosing to work with world-class Maryland companies, we can replicate our government-side success in the commercial sector and build a far larger high-pay industry here in Maryland.”