Two of the many highlights at this year’s Agility 2016 conference in Vienna are set to be our guest speakers – Misha Glenny and Thimon De Jong. This week we caught up with both of them to gain a sneak preview of their talks, their opinions on the key themes of Agility and any previous experiences or tips they have regarding this year’s host city, Vienna!

First up was Misha, an international expert on cyber security and organised crime, and former Chief BBC Correspondent in the Balkans during the wars in former Yugoslavia: 


Can you give us a teaser of what your guest talk will be about?  

“There are two main themes to the talk – the first is the critical importance of communication in the world of cyber security. It is absolutely essential that members of the company from the board down to interns understand the importance of cyber security and are engaged with the process of sustaining good cyber practice. 

The second theme concerns hackers themselves – who are they? What are their motives? How did they come to assume such an important place in both the business and the criminal world? Can they also be a force for good?”

 What are your opinions on cyber security and the increasing activity of hackers? 

“Quite simply, cyber security is a problem which is only going to grow because our dependency on complex computer systems is increasing exponentially. The greatest forthcoming challenge is how we will manage security in the age of the Internet of Things. Several major cyber incidents, such as the Stuxnet malware which attacked a nuclear enrichment facility in Iran, make it clear that we are entering a more, not less, complex cyber environment. And that means more opportunities for hackers.”

 Where do you see cybersecurity in terms of other forms of crime, and threats to daily life? 

“There is one fundamental difference between cyber-crime and traditional organised crime, and this means that we are having to revise our traditional approach to law enforcement – but I will reveal all that in the talk!”

Do you have any previous experiences of Vienna? If so, what tips would you share to other conference attendees? 

“I lived in Vienna for eight years when I was the BBC’s Central Europe Correspondent from 1986 to 1994. My favourite thing has to be the Military Museum in Arsenal where you can see the Gräf and Stift car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a passenger when he was assassinated on June 28th 1914. Next to the vehicle is the jacket he was wearing that day on which the blood of the man whose death sparked the First World War is still visible. Not to be missed in my view!”

Thimon, an expert in societal and cultural trends and the effects they have for businesses and nations, was next up:

Can you give us a teaser of what your guest talk will be about?

“I specialise in future human behaviour, so I will talk about the sociological response to current and future developments, and answer questions like: how will people respond to a world where everybody (and every organisation) knows everything about each other?”

Is technology helping businesses better sync with wider socio-cultural trends?

“Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that all the socio-cultural trends can be found online for free - look at the staggering amount of free (academic) research, TED talks, news archives etc. No, in the sense there is a complete information overload. And: how do you know a source is trustworthy?”

Are businesses, on the whole, developing digitally balanced strategies? Or are many still wide of the mark?

“Businesses increasingly are on the digital balance track. The vast majority of traditional companies are working hard on their own digital transformation, while the new tech companies are doing traditional things, like opening up physical stores or publishing print magazines. When it comes to another aspect - digital balance in HR - most companies are still waaaaay off the mark. Most HR policies are too much focussed on tech.”

As an expert in societal and cultural trends, and the effects they have for organisations, has cybersecurity become a major issue for you?

“No. For most industries, and for most of my clients, cyber security is still a bit under the radar. One of the main problems is that as consumers, people do not feel the need to protect themselves and they take (part of) this attitude to the work place.”

Do you have any previous experiences of Vienna? If so, what tips would you share to other conference attendees?

“I’m a man of the outdoors, and when I go to Austria, it’s for the beautiful mountains. I would love to gather a few tips from the locals though!”