Another year passes, and certain things change, and certain things remain the same
The things that change can often appear to be bad (I have now got 7 grey hairs for example), and the things that stay the same are often also as bad (how come there are large stretches of the motorway coned off, yet nobody is working? Why is Michael Macintyre still working?)
One of the things that has both of these elements is InfoSec. This year’s 3-day extravaganza of the great and the good from the UK InfoSec community had some things that looked the same, and some things different. The things that looked the same were:
Cloud, Cloud, cloud everything with cloud (groan)
Scantily clad young ladies (bumbles bees and nurses being of particular note)
Everyone looking shattered on Thursday (including some fairly severe hangovers on certain stands #youknowwhoyouare)
I have commented on all three of these before, but please can I urge Marketing types at vendors to think again about the ladies. It’s not a Detroit Motor Show from the 1970’s, and you do yourselves and the rest of us a disservice. If the only way we can generate interest in our profession is with ample bosom, then you should perhaps reconsider your approach and messaging. Nothing wrong with attractive people on your stand (Sophos is blessed with a plethora), but T&A Security is not a strategic approach.
Anyway, the changes I noticed were very interesting.
The first was the fact that the delegate profile was different. In previous years, InfoSec was a nice jolly out of the office for some people. This year, one can only assume for budgetary reasons, there were less tyre kickers, and the quality (from a supply side perspective) of delegates were so much better and therefore will generate a better return (make no mistake my demand-side readers, that’s what InfoSec is about. We do the show to generate business. There: I’ve said it now. Gosh).
The second thing I noticed was the quality of the tat/schwag/crap was down. You can put this down to the same reason for less tyre kickers, less money. We at the Sophos stand ran ‘Tat Swap Shop’ on the Wednesday where delegates could proffer the worst items of vendor tat and swap it for a bottle of poo. Some of the offending items were genuinely fun (I apologise profusely for the gentleman I made stand up, wave his plastic sword around and yell “by the power of Greyskull”) and some were bewilderingly awful. The small clear plastic box of shredded hard drive being probably the oddest. What precisely are the children going to do with that? Get beryllium poisoning? Marketing types note: show tat gets given to our children because we are feeling guilty about being away. They rarely sit on desks in offices. A chewed up drive is not going down well with the kids or the missis.
The final change I noticed was the general industry movement towards bring your own device/software/sandwiches as a topic. For years the Industry has been banging on about mobile computing as a topic. This year felt like the hype was turning into real solutions, albeit with a huge amount of noise and general sabre rattling. However, since this is the usual MO from both demand and supply side, it’s hardly unexpected. It looks like InfoSec 2012 was the time when mobile and security risk it poses finally went mainstream. My advice to Marketing types here is simple, keep it realistic, keep it as free from hype as you can and we will all stay happy.
All in all, I think InfoSec 2012 was a good show, and as one of the few people in the industry who genuinely looks forward to it and enjoys every second, I’m looking forward to next year already.
PS Thank you Les Wells. Comments noted and I shall try to get writing more often 🙂