CMSWire contributor of the year, Jed Cawthorne: "Without people to apply their imagination as to how tech is used to solve our problems, then tech is just a failed tool"

It's important to have hobbies. Jed Cawthorne knows this, as he uses his monthly column to introduce CMSWire readers to new ways of looking at old problems through the lens of his many areas of interest — movies, fencing, history, space exploration and more. Not many can tie questions of information governance and security to the world Ridley Scott created in "Blade Runner," but that's all in a day's work for Jed. 

Besides starting a new role as director of security and governance solutions at NetDocuments this year, Jed somehow found time to participate in medieval reenactments, take classes in longsword fighting, provide insights as a member of CMSWire's reader advisory board and be a champion for his many colleagues in the industry. 

Keep Your Eye on Security, Governance and Privacy

What's your proudest accomplishment — personal or professional — from 2019?

Helping my colleagues for a year at TD. Getting their new search engine performant and leaving them in a good place to move forward on exciting projects such as deploying Microsoft Teams to tens of thousands of users, and investigating bots for use on the intranet. Also quite proud of securing my new role at NetDocuments, as this is the first time I have worked for a software company, on the vendor side of the equation. I hope to be a good champion for our customers and help the team develop new capabilities within our award-winning platform.

What gives you hope in the tech world today?

Oh boy, that is a difficult one. The people, especially the young up-and-coming people I get to work with give me hope. The technology itself is interesting of course, and many technologies have the capacity to change the world for the better (green energy tech, small modular "fail-safe" nuclear reactors, self driving cars and many other advancements), but without people to apply their imagination as to how tech is used to solve our problems, then tech is just a failed tool, discarded on the workshop floor. I have had the chance to work with many very bright people in their early- to mid-20s — first job out of university — and they have all been awesome. So they give me hope for the tech world, and the world in general.

Which of the articles you wrote for CMSWire this year was your favorite and why?

I am going to go with the last one, because I love "Blade Runner," it is one of my all-time favorite movies. My son Phillip proofread it for me. He is way bigger cinephile than I am (although not as tech-geeky), and I always love discussing movie making with him. Futurism is difficult and predictions are rarely accurate, but I enjoyed looking back at how they had seen their version of the future and comparing it to our reality. What was rather shocking for me is the lack of maturity in our information security environment and how it seems to be too far down many organizations' priority list.

If you could wake up tomorrow and be an expert in one thing, what would it be and why?

Work-wise, I would like to wake up and be an expert in information security, like a CISSP or something even better. When I was in the British Army we worked with a professor from Leeds University who ran a PhD in Information Warfare. Having the time to do that would have been cool! As noted above, the rationale for this is that as our entire world becomes digital, we need to make the security and privacy of our data the highest priority.

Outside of work, I would want to be a professor of medieval history, with expertise in the arms and armour of the English during the Hundred Years War, because, you know, having a hobby is important.

What is your favorite part of the work you do?

I am in a new role, something quite different from what I have done before, and so I am enjoying the learning. I also get to work with some really fantastic and interesting people, which is always great. I am enjoying designing new features and functionality for our platform. I look forward to enjoying watching them come to fruition.

What's an important story you'll be tracking in 2020?

I am not sure there is a single particular story, but more the whole security, information governance and privacy arena. I suspect there are going to be many interesting stories across this broad set of themes, I just hope the good ones manage to outweigh the bad ones!

What advice would you give someone starting out in your field today?

The last time I was asked this question, my answer for a young person in the IT industry was don’t take unsolicited advice from 50-somethings! However, if I was being less cynical I would suggest that whatever area of information management, content management, knowledge management, etc. they want to focus on, they should keep an eye on the security, governance and privacy side of the industry. Whether writing code, policies or strategy, it is important not to lose site of these elements.