Expanding Your Marketing Process


In this episode of Cybersecurity (Marketing) Unplugged, Kale also discusses:

  • The growth of systems and design thinking through global challenges;
  • Marketers using systems and design thinking for creative solutions: Systems is the problem, design is the solution;
  • Telling your systems marketing story in terms of what it provides and what outcome it creates.

Prachee Kale is the co-founder of Think.Design.Cyber. to pioneer critical, systems and design thinking in the cybersecurity discipline and founding executive fellow of our CyberTheory Institute. In 2020, Kale co-authored an award-winning research article “Cybersecurity: The End Game” published in Taylor Francsis’s EDPACs journal. Kale’s multi-disciplinary career is focused on bridging gaps between business ROI, technology and people. She has an impressive career leading cybersecurity initiatives and managing cybersecurity board reporting and budgets. Kale also advises growth companies focused on human-centered, sustainable products and technology.

As a pioneer of Think.Design.Cyber. who merged systems thinking feeding design thinking, Kale explores the need for and use cases around systems and design thinking in cybersecurity marketing.

Allow yourself to expand your perspective. From a marketing standpoint, your marketing process is also a system that’s now interacting with a cybersecurity system, which has its own innate culture in a larger cultural organization with its own culture. So now if you start to look at it as different pieces and say, how does my marketing fit with the cultural meaning of the cybersecurity organization and then the broader cultural meaning of that organization itself? What values, beliefs and mission it’s driving towards? Then you can tailor that experience

Full Transcript

This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. 

Steve King  00:14

Good day everyone. I’m Steve King, the director of cyber security advisory services here at CyberTheory. Today’s episode will explore the need for and use cases around design and systems thinking in cybersecurity marketing. And joining me today is Archie Cale, the co founder of think design cyber

Prachee Kale  00:38

press he created think design cyber to pioneer critical thinking and systems in design thinking in the cyber security discipline and is also a founding executive fellow of our cyber theory Institute. In 2020 Prachi co authored an award winning article entitled, cybersecurity the end game published by Taylor and Francis is at PAX journal, which became one of the seminal pieces for her multidisciplinary programs and approaching cybersecurity differently. But she has an impressive career leading cybersecurity initiatives and managing cybersecurity board reporting and budgets and advises growth companies focused on human centric, sustainable products and technologies. Welcome Fauci. And thank you for joining me today. Thank you, Steve, always a pleasure. As you know, quite well, I spent a lot of time with cybersecurity marketers. And during the last 12 months, I’m pretty excited about how systems in design thinking can shift the paradigm for how we go about the design of cyber defense systems. Can you explain to our audience what these terms mean, in your own language and how they can impact the future? Absolutely. I’d like to preface my answer with this. systems in design thinking are not new concepts. Steve, as you know, right, they’ve been heavily used in other disciplines and industries, they’ve accelerated innovations, and I sort of look at it from four dimension easier, better, faster, cheaper. system thinking, in fact, was quite prevalent in the cybersecurity space until the early 2000s. Before methods from icfr, the internal control over financial reporting became popular. But then in the last years, absolutely, we’ve seen a resurgence or what I call a revival or systems and design thinking, given the global challenges we faced, you know, collectively as a humanity on different fronts. So I’m very excited again, like like yourself to see that applied. That said, systems and design thinking, in my own easy to understand terms are deliberate and active ways of thinking, right? We’re thinking and feeling human beings. But it’s, it’s really being intentional about the way we think about problems and coming up with creative solutions, right? So this way, we’re training and orienting ourselves to be intentional in the way we’re looking at doing things. I mean, for this audience, from a marketing standpoint, how do we tell that story? And how do we create the content? And how do we create solutions and deliver them for our clients collectively, right? Now, systems thinking, from my perspective, literally, is the ability to expand your perspective and see the big picture and look at the problem as a system. And then understand that anything that is acting within or on that system becomes a part of that system. And for me, I use the acronym PPT which everybody is aware of. But for my you know, my brain, it works as people process and technology, all those three aspects. process will also includes methods and frameworks and all of the good stuff there. The PBG together becomes a system right? A lot of times when we see a system, we’re looking at it as tech, that’s not what I’m talking about. Now, taking that connecting the dots, assessing in a nonlinear manner, to infer cause and effect coming down to cause and effect from a nonlinear manner, simplifying complexities, being able to see choke points, or you know, or just ease of flow in information systems. And then simplifying the complexity and looking at interaction points and then anticipating scenarios in order to derive solutions is how I define systems thinking. Now, that feeds design thinking, which if you Google you’ll see Design Thinking defined as a process. I say it’s an outcome right design thinking again, is thinking about solutions in a creative manner, using formalized design approaches, right and then using the process in order to build those solutions, the iterative process that people are talking about. Another thing I’d like to point out cures. When I say problems, they can be of any kind simple things from process improvements to a range of you know what people know as wicked problems, everything from war to hunger, poverty, to climate change. All of those, to me fall in the same bucket. It’s the degree of complexity, it’s the degree of interconnectedness and interdependencies. And design thinking also prompts the notion of aesthetics and user experience, right. What we’re also looking at design thinking is from the perspective of a multidisciplinary or also from from a large scale manufacturing, like approaches where we’re looking at ease of service use, design, and concepts like that. Now, from a future standpoint, you mentioned the work that we’re doing at think design, cyber cyber theory Institute, we’re literally the first group of people who are looking at cybersecurity as a discipline with that people process and technology approach, right, we’re looking at it as a system and seeing, hey, if cybersecurity is a complex adaptive system, what are the issues that we all collectively within the cybersecurity industry across different areas, right? Healthcare, finance, telecom, all of these different industries, we have similar problems, right. And so we’ve identified some structural flaws around the concept of cybersecurity the way we’re doing cybersecurity today, you know, across different areas, and that’s what we’re looking at. And we’re super excited about it from a future perspective. And for this audience, again, looking at your cybersecurity, approach your cybersecurity solutions as a system, putting in other systems is good is remarkable for the future. So I’m very excited about it. Yeah, sure. And, you know, when you break it down, like you just did, if I asked you to our technical definition, which you just gave me, what happens is, there’s a lot of, I believe, your audience immediately goes to gobbly gook, you know, like,

Steve King  06:56

wait a minute, what is she talking about? You know, and and so from my point of view, systems thinking, enables designers to simply step away from the notion that one system contains a standalone solution around with supporting systems must be built in order to sustain and I think that definition is at a level of perfection. And I don’t mean it subjectively, but rather, that if you look at it that way, that simply means that the assumption that that the entire solution to whatever the problem happens to be that’s, that is now embedded in that quote, system that you’re looking at it is not there, necessarily, right. It can be there, that might be cool, it might actually end up being the answer. But in many cases, and in particular marketing, where we can extrapolate what we think is what drives human behavior, and add other kinds of factors in that also drives human behavior, and expand an existing system to include those factors. So now all of a sudden, I always use Starbucks as a great example. Now all of a sudden, you have an experiential element, this not Edison, information or elements. So for example, and if you wanted to take a systems view, from my point of view, you by simply expanding to include one experimental element in in the mix, you have now been able to change that paradigm. So absolutely. Seems to me that any critical systems, thinking of the future, is going to succeed by unlocking that invisible cultural meaning that everybody has. So you go around the world, there has to be, you know, literally 1000s of them from country to country that drive different human engagement with any logical or non technological platform can generate you agree. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, and you use the great word, right, expand. And that’s what I was going to say was, you’re literally allowing yourself right, when I coach people, I’m also an executive coach, and I coach a lot of cybersecurity professionals. You literally when you expand your perspective, right, you allow yourself to expand your perspective. And from a marketing standpoint, your marketing process is also a system that’s now interacting with a cybersecurity system, which has its own innate culture in a larger cultural organized, you know, a larger organization with its own culture. Right. So now if you start to look at it as different pieces and say, Okay, how does my marketing fit with, you know, the cultural meaning of the cybersecurity organization and then the broader cultural meaning of that, that organization itself, right, what values beliefs and mission it’s driving towards, then you can tailor that experience? Again, we’re in a in a in a state where everything is about tailoring experiences. What does that mean to this individual and the organization and the organization as a whole?

Prachee Kale  09:56

Yeah, exactly. And from inside, I can just see As you know, we’ve got 1000 marketers listening to this podcast right now going well, that all sounds great. What is it has to do with lead generation? And my and what I need to do before the end of the month here, I’m supposed to generate another X percentage of leads, right? How does this How does this information that you’re telling me, enabled me to leverage this to drive my product deeper into the, into the niche markets I’m trying to, I’m trying to attack. So I’d say when you start to look at cyber as a complex adaptive system and see where your solution fits into that system, right? Again, your solution may be small, but can have wide ranging impact. That solution may mean different things for different people in that organization. Right? Largely, we’re looking at lead generation, we’re looking at your content creation, from the perspective of a cyber organization. Now, the position of cyber itself has elevated from being you know, either part of it, a lot of times you see cyber in different parts of the organization, right, they don’t sit in it, sometimes it’s sitting in legal and compliance or in risk management, the buying decision process starts to change. People who are part of that decision process also changed, right? So you can literally tailor the outreach, according to the actors now that are acting in the system. So I think literally looking at the interconnectedness, the interdependencies and the context of your solution in terms of people product and the process and methods, then you’re able to tell the story, and create your marketing campaign in a way that is differentiated from other companies. Yeah, it’s easily said hard to do. And I guess the opportunity front, again, not to beat a dead horse. But if you looked at what Starbucks is, versus what it could have been, you know, instead of a series of coffee shops, it’s a lifestyle experience. So what we did what someone did a while ago with Starbucks and say, you know, it’s not, we’re not selling coffee, here, we’re selling a lifestyle. And we’re going to shift the paradigm. So people are coming to Starbucks, they’re getting a cup of coffee, that’s all well and good. And we need to be like, McDonald’s, which, by the way, is maybe you know, the premier business model in the history of business. Yeah, they serve a consistent product that keeps the world from starving every day, right? Starbucks does a similar thing. You may not be a fan or be a fan, whatever, the coffee, the coffee is not the point. The point is there’s a this is a place where people can come be relaxed, have expectations fulfilled, and move along, having very little to do with coffee. And again, if you’re a marketing person and cyber security and you sell endpoint solution protection, for example, is that really, the question now that I have at this point is, when you look at this from a systems thinking point of view, is the question because are you really selling an endpoint solution? Or are you selling more than that? Is the customer outcome more than simply protection against endpoint intrusion? Or is it a way of looking at their operating environment that enables them to do something differently than they could before? I mean, I’m speaking for the latter. Absolutely. And you mentioned McDonald’s, right? I was going to suggest, you know, watching the movie, the founder, Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc in the movie where they literally redesigned the kitchen so they could create the experience for the customer. Again, when we’re talking about Starbucks, you know, we mentioned convenience, comfort and familiarity, underlying that are the basic emotions of trust and safety. That’s what cyber is about, right? You’re talking about endpoint solution. Take, take, for example, you know, data classification tools, right? Big Impact, right? Classifying documents. But if it’s, if it’s a naturally conservative organization, everybody’s going to lean towards classifying anything yellow or red, right. But what does that mean? From a physical data law standpoint, you can sell that solution in an organization? Hopefully, many of them have it. But what if somebody prints and walks out with it? So what does that what does that do from a data loss perspective, right? But if you as a marketer are able to have both those conversations across cyber as well as physical security, and as a differentiator, now you’re thinking about the problem the client has versus you selling your endpoint solution. I mean, it’s an oversimplified example, but it’s, you know, it’s very apropos in this context. No, it’s I from my point of view, it’s not over simplified at all. It’s exactly spot on. And it’s what we need to instead of, we’re so carried away with, with technique. And yeah, I’ve got a bunch of SEO friends that would agree here that we’re very focused on metrics and technique and all the rest of it. We lose track of the human factor here. We’re in the business of selling

Steve King  14:59

Direct to humans, that train a b2b b2b train that left a long time ago, human beings make these buying decisions and we need to, we need to address the human condition the human emotion and human decision making process as closely as we can. And to your point about, you know, going as close to the edge of, of human emotion as possible love and money are right there. Right. So as money is a great example, because it’s as it changes form and meaning through the adoption of universal applications for payment and conversion, which is doing right now throughout the world. Yeah, let’s see, what’s the effect on new users who find themselves in an all cash marketplace where purchase transactions can be too small for merchants to handle change, for example, you know, all of the big markets throughout Singapore and throughout eastern Asia, and in many cases, Europe, you walk up to immersion and you buy something, it’s worth 48 cents and you want change on $1 ain’t going to happen. That person’s too busy doing whatever it is they’re doing the question then becomes now oh, you know, how do you reenter this sort of trust engagement level, into the money process, all of a sudden, viruses never happened before. I, you know, I’m not going to naturally trust you to pay me back that, you know, whatever, whatever that number was 52 cents on that dollar, just because it’s my nature to do so. But if it becomes part of part of the process, as it’s now becoming everywhere, as in the Pay It Forward, sort of Yes. stuff that’s going on, particularly in the Starbucks world once again, then, you know, it becomes part of the of a new paradigm. And that is a shift in and it’s unintentional, nobody sat down and said, Okay, well we need to do is now find a way to incorporate this sort of new lack laksa days ago, payback mechanism. So money itself has changed due to the technology around money changing. So

Prachee Kale  17:00

yeah, underlying that technology, evolution came from the notion of trust, right. And I always say trust is learned behavior, right? That’s how we’re coming. You know, when we’re working with John on the zero trust world and blending that with our system, that design thinking approach, right? Trust is learned behavior to your point, Steve, right, you’re not going to trust somebody to bring that 58 cents in certain cultures are like, Alright, come back for your coffee tomorrow. And we’ll balance that out, right? Is the agreement between two people or what that looks like? Now in scenarios where you have QR codes or you know, your Venmo or something, you can exchange that you can pay that to the you know, third decimal place, if I may, I can give you 58.587. Back, when, when it’s not there, right, especially in economies where, where this is not adopted at a wide scale, which, interestingly, people are pretty pretty inclined to it. Because again, it’s easier, but there’s a trust and safety in the system to say, Okay, I am digitally exchanging money with you. I’m not seeing it. That’s fine. Right. In certain other situations, it’s not I think it’s about the agreement between the two parties around the trust, right? Again, it’s about trust and safety. In that environment, that’s how cryptos involved, right? Because people didn’t believe we are currencies or the exchange, and everything else that goes around, you know, everything else that is around that model, right? Why did we Why did that why did blockchain and Kryptos explode as they did they have because people don’t trust our current systems?

Steve King  18:28

Yeah. And well, blockchain and CRISPR character are interesting samples, as well, in that, you know, the drivers behind the explosion are the usual ones. But that’s a world that’s heavily regulated, far more so than most people understand or believe. So the any trepidation about operating and in the crypto blockchain world should be should be cast aside because the regulations are so our rights are so tough there to make sure that, you know, it doesn’t it doesn’t lend itself to the vulnerabilities that are so

Prachee Kale  19:05

experienced, right? I mean, the regulatory the regulatory environment and all the other mechanisms that go into, you know, the normal money world, if I say Fiat side, it is the experience that made people move away and say, Okay, we want something that doesn’t involve all this. Yeah, it was underscored by the notion of experience, right, which violated trust at a level. And there you are, and so that’s fine. And the same way we look, we see that in cyber too, right? If if a security practice becomes too cumbersome, there’s a world of shadow IT.

Steve King  19:36

Sure. Well, and it’s always been that way. Right? And that’s been one of the absolutely, I mean, there were like four or five foundational problems that we’ll never get over. And that’s one of them. That that we need to figure out how to work around it and then make that work around the foundational going forward principle but not so a marketing

Prachee Kale  19:55

standpoint, right? If I’m able to talk about my solution with a board of directors As the cybersecurity professional is going to be using it, as well as the end user employee who is going to impact or a project manager is going to implement your solution, then it’s an experience you’re creating for everybody the one point solution, it could still be point solution and maybe very well fitting in their entire, you know, system. But again, how are you telling that story to the people? And it’s, again, it’s the what’s in it for me? Yeah. And the aspect of driving change? Yeah. And and again, bringing it back to, what am I going to do today and tomorrow, differently than what I did yesterday, I think that the important sort of takeaway from all of this is that we need to stop telling the story, whatever it happens to be endpoint security, let’s say, in the context of what that thing does, and how it does it, versus what it provides and what outcome it creates. And if we simply made that very minor shift in emphasis within the systems that we’re describing, within the marketing system are describing here, you know, how do we bring endpoint security and market? Well, it’s got these features got these functions that compares to these competitors. It’s got these points of parity, these points of differentiation, etc, etc, etc. all boring stuff, all stuff. Right? Yes, it doesn’t. Hardly ever comes into play. And people don’t do that. Yeah, we don’t do that. When we go buy cars, right? It’s an experience. No, I don’t care. If I’m not a car buff, I am I do care if mine is, you know, a turbocharged engine, other people don’t. So who, who looks at the specs and says that versus the driving? Are my kids, okay? And from cyberspace, right? I mean, my parents are older now. Right? Are they well equipped, rather informed the systems they’re using? Are they safe? Or is this somebody going to scan them out of their retirement money? And conversely, my kids, right, from a data production standpoint, for their own personal production standpoint, the story starts to shift as you’re talking about an experience. Right? And I as an employee going into an organization, am I safe? And is the work I’m doing safe? Am I protected? Well enough. Now, there’s a story to tell there. And I also work in the DNI space. And my, you know, my day job, culture in itself is a system, those are learned behaviors, again, if you’re trying to influence and bring in the the ideas of inclusion, bringing the ideas of leveraging different aspects now, that system culture system has to has to shift and adapt. Right. And we have to then take everybody in consideration, right, as we are trying to drive that culture change. Right. So security as a culture is part of a broader culture.

Steve King  22:50

Yeah, sure. And but to your earlier point, I think it all it all has to start with red. You know, you that’s what you’re selling, you know, so I guess you want a car? What color red? Cool. Come on in? Yes. Here’s our here’s our red lineup, right? And you immediately now shift to the important thing, the important emotional decision that’s going to be made here is I’m going to choose a red car, which red car am I going to choose not? I’m going to choose a car that goes 360 horsepower that has x, y, z, brakes, wheels, tires, all the rest of that stuff that all comes later, right? You want to make sure that it has all that stuff. But the first thing you want to make sure of is it’s red. And so that we don’t do that today. And that’s my point. Right? My point, my point is my take away would be from a systems thinking point of view. So we’ve got to undo, we have to be a willing to look at the existing systems that are in place in terms of how we deliver marketing, and then be willing to step on those and shift them to an that emotional connection approach, as opposed to the physical, if you will, or the technical connection approach.

Prachee Kale  24:04

Yes, I see that as step two and three. The first one is the emotional, definitely, that is critical. And then looking at it from a systems perspective, applying those those principles to it now you’re able to talk to those two different kinds of people in that system. You’re a differentiated company with an amazing product.

Steve King  24:26

Exactly. Traci, I think we knock them dead this morning. I think we we should pull out our hats and run around and run the collection that seriously I think we covered the ground I wanted to cover in terms of you know, 10 of breaking down the, you know, when you start talking about critical or design or systems thinking you can immediately get pretty esoteric in terms of you know, well yeah, how does that actually equate to everyday, my everyday job and how I can execute my I, my duties and responsibilities more effectively for my company. I think we actually scratched the surface of that today. And,

Prachee Kale  25:08

yeah, I’ll leave the audience with this. And you know, when I coach people, I tell them, right, it’s a one degree shift, what happens, it becomes a struggle when you’re trying to do one ad in one goal. And you have to allow yourself and give yourself permission to make those one degree shifts to drive that change. From a marketing perspective. If our approach shifts, one degree in our storytelling shifts one degree in a way that connects like I said, from a system standpoint, a very low level of behavioral shift can have massive impact, right? Those are the experimentation we have to do to see what works and sometimes big impact, big efforts have very low impact, right. Again, from a system standpoint, now you have feedback loops, which you know, a marketing system is very well have are very well defined and marketing systems.

Steve King  25:55

Sure. Yeah, we’re at the mark, here are chi that happened really fast. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Likewise, I hope our audience that as well, we’re certainly going to do this again, because there’s so much more to uncover here, across the board, not just in systems thinking. And if you’re inclined, I would love to have you back. And we’ll have another one of these and, you know, share some more views and hopefully create some discussion among our, our audience around around some of these points and how to, you know, the ways that they can improve their day to day operational impact as well. So thank you for taking the time today. I really appreciate it.

Prachee Kale  26:36

Thank you, Steve, for having me. Terrific.

Steve King  26:39

Terrific. And thanks for to our audience as well for putting up with us this morning. Hopefully, it was not a waste of your time. I thought it was pretty exciting and interesting and lots of food for thought. So until next time, I’m your host, Steve King, signing off, and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.