Mapping the Device-to-Cloud Security Ecosystem

By on Nov 12, 2019

Understanding a diverse Userbase

At McAfee, when we build new products or features, we lead the initiative with user-centric design; and the foundation of good design is understanding your users.

Since the Skyhigh acquisition, we’ve been introducing its product capabilities into the broader McAfee portfolio. Integrating MVISION Cloud with other flagship offerings such as MVISION ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) and MVISION Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) allows our customers to have a complete device-to-cloud solution.

Although they’re all security products, the users of these tools are very different. The job of a SOC Analyst is quite different from someone in Risk Management. And Compliance requires tight collaboration with groups outside of Security, such as IT and DevOps.

So how do we deliver a solution that recognizes the unique needs of each role, and understands the collaborative workflows between them?

We decided to start by creating a map that would:

  • Capture our collective understanding of users
  • As a learning tool, cultivate a shared mental model among the product teams
  • As a design tool, provide a framework for every use case to identify the target user and workflow (the equivalent of saying “You are here” on the map)

Mapping the ecosystem

The first step was to document what we already knew from prior customer meetings and research activities. Product managers and user experience designers got together in front of a whiteboard to compare notes. Every time someone mentioned a new role, we drew that person along with arrows representing tasks or collaboration with others.

Some natural affinities started to emerge, and we were able to group people into clusters that represented larger workflows like Threat Protection, Risk Management, Data Protection, and Dev/SecOps.

We then created a digital version of the map that we could review internally. After a number of iterations, we had a good enough draft to share with customers. And with the MPOWER conference just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to do this as an interactive activity.


Validating with customers

We decided to perform the activity in the customer meetings already scheduled for the first day of MPOWER: 3 Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meetings, and 2 Targeted Group Meetings (TGM). This ensured we had a good cross-section of customers with interests across Cloud/CASB, DLP, Web Gateway, Endpoint, and ePO.

The idea was simple. We would display an 8-foot wide poster of the map in each session. Customers would sign up to get a packet of stickers, and were given the following instructions:

  1. Place your number on the person that best represents you.
  2. Place colored dots on all the roles in your organization.
  3. Place dollar bills where you’d like to see product improvement.

The goal was to validate the roles and get a high-level indication of where they’d like to see product investment.

As customers interacted with the poster, facilitators guided them along and asked questions that couldn’t be captured by the stickers: things like “Who? What? Why?”


When the day was done, UX leads and researchers facilitated the exercise with 81 participants representing 64 companies. Feedback was tremendously positive. Some customers even requested copies of the map for use within their own organization.


Key takeaways

Although the research is still ongoing, there are a few takeaways from this activity that are worth highlighting:

  • All roles on the map were validated – and a few missing ones were added, like the Security Architect and SOC Manager. We’re now iterating the map to include them. We also found that a number of people self-identified with multiple roles. This is a huge win because it means we now have an accurate representation of a diverse userbase that will be the foundation for requirements and design.
  • We got directional indicators of investment. Threat protection had the most dollar spend at $669 across the board. By comparison, endpoint security was the next at $390. Due to the nature of this activity, we don’t know exactly what each participant wanted their dollars spent on. But we’re doing a follow-up study to capture these details now.
  • We established a diverse customer council. During the sign-up process, pretty much every customer opted in to participate in follow-up research. And with the data we collected, we can now target customers that have any mix of products or roles. This will be an invaluable recruiting tool as we work on designs for the unification of these products.

We also learned that this approach works. It’s engaging, and it’s fun! Not only did it bring product teams together internally, it also brought everyone closer to the users of the products they work on.

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McAfee Cloud BU

Learn about cloud threats, the latest cloud security technologies, and the leading approaches for protecting data in cloud services.

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