The need for NATO and industry to innovate in response to shared challenges stemming from a new, complex strategic environment was the common theme when more than 700 speakers and participants gathered this week in Ottawa, Canada, for the NATO Communications and Information Agency’s annual industry conference known as NITEC17.
"This is the adaptation we are trying to realize in NATO: not to expand our command structure, but to enhance our ability to connect with an ever-increasing number of partners," said NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Denis Mercier.
Adding that best practices across nations and within industry can be a source of innovative solutions for NATO, General Mercier said the alliance will look at making policy changes that are necessary to keep pace with 21st century threats.
Making the case for government-industry partnerships that can address cyber challenges, CenturyLink CEO and President Glen F. Post, III told conference attendees, "We have found that our trusted partnerships play a critical role in combating the cyber threat, since we all bring different assets, approaches and specialized knowledge to the table."
Post explained in an industry keynote address that "Securing our collective networks against evolving cyber threats begins when organizations acknowledge we are all interdependent and that we face common threats and vulnerabilities. It is only by working together that we can create the best technologies, processes and world-leading solutions."
Various speakers emphasized that developing an innovative ecosystem that fosters a dialogue with industry that is focused on outcomes, rather than requirements, and rewards learning, instead of discouraging failure, is necessary to bring innovation to NATO more rapidly.
Dr. John Zangardi, acting chief information officer of the U.S. Department of Defense, said, "Working with industry so that industry is aware of our needs requires communication and true partnership. These partnerships take investment in time and effort."
The theme of this year’s industry conference was "Sharpening NATO’s Technological Edge: Adaptive Partnerships and the Innovative Power of Alliance Industry."
“At the end of the day, cybersecurity is not just a job. It’s an obligation,” Post noted. “Cybersecurity is about protecting our families, our friends, our businesses, our economies and our countries around the world.”