Editor's note: David Samuelson was appointed chief executive officer of ISACA on 1 April of 2019, the year of ISACA’s 50th anniversary. Samuelson recently visited with ISACA Now to discuss the meaning of joining the organization during its milestone year and how ISACA can draw upon its decades of industry leadership to become even more impactful in the future. The following is an abbreviated transcript of the Q&A interview. To read the full Q&A, visit the ISACA50.org Story Gallery.
ISACA Now: You recently were named CEO of ISACA during the organization’s 50th year. What added dimension does that timing provide in terms of your outlook on this new role?
It’s a great time to join ISACA because it is at an inflection point in its history. The next 50 years are going to be very important for ISACA, and the first 50 years have made ISACA a strong, relevant, trustworthy and valuable organization to members all over the world. During the next 50 years, I hope we can double down on all of those things.
ISACA Now: While recognizing that you have only been with ISACA for a short time, what has struck you most about the organization’s history and trajectory over these past 50 years?
I think more important than its history is the passion that I’ve witnessed. The membership is palpably passionate about ISACA. I hope that I can hear the stories that are behind that passion, that can help shape how we build toward the future.
ISACA Now: You have an extensive background in education technology. What have been some of the most transformative advancements that you’ve observed in that area over the years?
The impacts in learning technologies are impacts in all technologies, such as machine learning and AI and cloud computing – the things that are prevalent for all of us now. The newest entrants in the technology world that I think are interesting and perhaps challenging for any organization is voice-first technology, like Alexa. We’re talking naturally, and things happen, either in our house or in our classroom or in our cars or with our phones. I think this represents some new challenges for old problems.
But specific to learning technologies, I think the opportunities to help an adult learner or any learner are related to understanding what they know and what they don’t know, understanding where they’re at in their learning journey, and being able to get immediate feedback as they’re learning. These are not really new ideas, but important ones to help us learn in today’s tech-enabled world. I also think the mobile and digital device revolution has changed the way people consume almost anything in their daily lives, especially for adults. For associations like us that want to communicate important, relevant, trustworthy materials, these changes around us are important for us to embrace.
ISACA Now: Along those lines, panels at ISACA’s CACS conferences this year are discussing disruptive technologies that have reshaped the ways that we live and work. What might be an example or two (personal or professional) of a disruptive technology that you have come to appreciate, from a quality of life standpoint?
I think voice-first is the first one that comes to mind. You can control a supercomputer “in the sky” with your voice, and so what does that mean? It certainly is useful to walk into your house and start a movie where you left off, or to walk into your office and start a presentation where you left off, but it also represents new challenges in terms of keeping us safe in cyberspace because, in order to have that technology, devices have to be listening to everything. So, what does that mean in terms of privacy, in terms of what people know about you – all those kinds of things? I think it’s interesting but also disruptive in the sense that you have a feature that also can be a danger. The other thing that has probably been most disruptive in all of our lives is just the power of computing that we carry with us all the time – we have access to anything, wherever we are. That’s certainly different than it was even a decade ago.