Attending InfoSec shows and events in 2011

So, day seven of 2011 and day five of the diet. So far, so good on both counts, although I am getting a bit sick of rice cakes.

Given that it’s the first week back, it’s still quiet so I wanted to talk about and get people’s views on what shows/events/seminars they will be doing this year. As we all know, the IT industry is chock full of events you can attend, and we in the InfoSec space are well served. I know of at least one lady who works for a Government organisation who appears to spend her entire life at these events – one wonders quite how she doesn’t go down with scurvy thanks to the limited nutritional content to be had from buffet lunches and rickets due to days spent in windowless basements in hotels.

There is of course the Big One – InfoSec. Infosec is an interesting one in that it’s not wholly popular with delegates OR stand-duty people. Delegates often complain it’s a bit pushy, crowded and often a noisy sweaty affair. Being something of a veteran, having done ten on the trot now, I can confirm that people on stand-duty complain about exactly the same thing and the poor girls don’t even have comfortable footwear half the time. Still, it begs the question, if it’s so awful why do we do it? The answer is that it’s actually not that awful, it’s a chance for everyone that matters in our world to get together for three days to get things done, and frankly, I love it. Friends, colleagues, customers, past customers, prospects, all under one roof. What’s not to love? If you enter into the spirit of the thing it’s a lot easier. If you go, you are going to get sold to, but in return you get lots of free demos and more squeezy balls than you can possibly carry. From stand-duty point of view, with the exception of the tyre-kickers (more on them in a bit), it’s a brilliant chance to meet some interesting people and have a relaxed chat with them.

Next tier down you have industry specific stuff. It’s BETT (British Education Technology Tradeshow) next week, and after a brief hiatus of about four years, I shall be attending with my chums at Atomwide. BETT is something of an acquired taste since at least one of the days is aimed directly at students, which typically means swarms of locusts (ahem, sorry, school kids) roaming the place picking the stand clean of pens and gizmos. And it’s the only one I am aware of that is open on a Saturday, although you have to be a bit hardcore to do that one. You then have IA, NATO symposium, ACPO, the NHS stuff and my personal bête noir, SOCITM. I’ve done eight of these on the trot, sponsoring four and attending every one as a delegate. The exhibition is very hit and miss dependent on venue and how late everyone stays up on the Monday night. SOCITM is brilliant as a delegate, but it’s starting to look a bit tired and could do with a fresh coat of paint as a format. Speaking of fresh coats of paint, CIPCOG is dead, long live the ‘IA Practitioners’ event in March. I love CIPCOG. It’s in a great venue, in a beautiful town (York Racecourse), there aren’t too many delegates or exhibitors and it’s got a nice relaxed feel to it. I am heartily looking forward to it

Finally, there are the vendor or partner-led events. To be fair, some of these are just plain pants (and I should know, I’ve been responsible for a couple over the years). It’s actually quite hard to get it right: it needs to have the right blend of information and pitching to make it viable, in the right venue, at the right cost. Some people get it right consistently (stand up Amy et al at SBL) and we here at Sophos seem to get a good response for our ‘Anatomy of a Threat’ type seminars. But in industry’s defence, these are tough to get right, and as a point of order, if you say you are going to come to one of these, don’t just not turn up. It’s rude, and it costs money and ask yourself, what would your mother say?

My final note here is on the stand-person’s* worst nightmare, the tyre-kicker. We know who you are within about 16 seconds. Please have a squeezy ball and go. I have no problem chatting to you, but please don’t tell one of the sales team you are looking to buy a hokey-cokey 500 by the end of next month and really need an eval when you don’t or can’t. It’s not nice, and it just upsets Marketing.

So, my questions dear readers are:

Best Show
Worst show
What do you like?
What don’t you like?

I’ll take the best responses and write them up. Chatham House rules apply if you want.

*I’m really not sure what to call someone who is working on a stand. Standgirl? Standboy? Standanddeliever?


About Graeme Stewart, McAfee

I work for McAfee as Director of Public Sector Strategy and Relations, UK&I
This entry was posted in Security, SOCITM, Sophos, Viruses. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Attending InfoSec shows and events in 2011

  1. Garry Fusellier says:

    The National Information Security Conference in St Andrews, Scotland.
    As I only attend one show a year it has to be my best and worst show, although it is actually very good.
    Good mix of speakers from public and private sector. Well supported by many vendors and excellent social events during the three days. Very well organised by Sapphire.

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