So, I'm speaking as part of a panel at ISC West next week. It's called "Increasing the Quality and Affordability of IP Video
" and it's happening at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday of the show, in room 204.
I think it's going to be solid. Basically, I've got vendors like Lee Caswell from Pivot3, Mark Kolar from IPVision Software, and Doug Marman from VideoIQ to talk about how different architectures can eliminate pieces of hardware and save money, and then I've got Jim Henry, CEO of Henry Bros., who can call bullshit if their solutions aren't real-world practical, and to talk about how he saves on labor and installation costs when he's installing IP video systems.
I mostly ask questions and look pretty. You get the idea. It's worth attending if you think the TCO of IP video is too high, or isn't competitive with analog.
How did it come about? Well, ISC West sent me a fairly cryptic note asking me if I would moderate a panel with that title and no speakers attached to it. I said, sure, but can I put the panel together? They said, sure, go nuts. And so I called some people I'd seen do presentations on saving money on IP video before, and there you have it. Easy peasy.
Nobody paid to be on the panel. And I sure as hell am not being paid. But I really am looking forward to the luxurious speaker-ready room that I get to slip into because of my speaker status. I've heard they have the best croissants that side of the Mississippi. Free coffee, too!
This whole topic of education at the trade shows has been getting a lot of play in some circles lately, actually. John Honovich has been a particular critic of the vendor-centric education that's been a staple of the major trade shows, and, to his credit, he's recently begun his own educational series, starting with IP Network Basics for Video Surveillance
It's a topic I know intimately, since I program the TechSec Solutions
education (click through to check out the videos of what we did this year), which is a first-rate pain in the ass, and always has been. See, because the conference is for the entire security channel, from manufacturer through to the end user, we've always tried to program panels and presentations that were interesting to all pieces of that channel and featured viewpoints representative of all those pieces.
Initially, we did this by creating the entire program from whole cloth, figuring out what our attendees would want and then inviting people to participate in presentations and panels that we designed. And holy crap was that like herding cats. Further, it was limited by what we knew about in-house. If we'd never heard of, say, cold storage, we couldn't very well put together a panel about it. Plus, we tended to invite those people we knew well to participate, for obvious reasons (and this was done way before the sponsors and booths had been sold, so we didn't have to worry about conflict of interest internally, but we did have to worry about the appearance of conflict of interest).
So, three years ago, we went to the call for presentations model. We outlined the types of presentations we were looking for, said there needed to be an appeal to the entire channel, and let the call loose on the world, just like a "real" conference.
This works okay.
The first big problem is that some manufacturers just send you whatever canned speaker presentation they have on hand. It's not unique to TechSec (as we say it must be) and it's only sort of germane to that part of the channel that doesn't buy their products on a regular basis.
The second big problem is that integrators/installers and end users don't really have a driving reason why they should put in a presentation. Sure, the integrators might get some business from raising their profile, but let's just say that integrators/installers are not particularly marketing savvy in this industry. Further, the end users are really just doing it to be thought-leaders in the industry and out of general beneficence.
So, most of the integrators and end users on the program are invited by the manufacturers who put in presentations (they have marketing departments for that), and then you know what happens?
Yeah, the end users and integrators decide not to come because there's nothing in it for them, so I get a flood of manufacturers at the last minute - literally, a week before the show - who tell me, oops, so and so had a family emergency, or, oops, so and so doesn't work there anymore, or, oops, we never really asked that person if they could come and then, well, they can't.
This leads me to scream obscenities and threaten to just cancel TechSec and to quit (only in the middle of the office, not to the general public, as a rule, though you never know).
Those peers that can best offer education and understanding are really, really hard to get up there on the dais. For the presentation I put together for ISC West, we invited maybe five or six end users. None of them could make it - no budget, no time, no interest. So I gave up and went with just the integrator's voice.
Could ISC/TechSec/everyone pay a stipend and pay for travel and whatnot for speakers? Sure. But that would drastically affect the prices for attendance. People say they can barely afford to pay for education as it is.
Thus, it's not surprising to see that ISC West's speaker list
is pretty vendor heavy. To wit:
|A|| || |
|Laurie Aaron ||Quantum Secure||Vendor|
|Zvika Ashani ||Agent VI||Vendor|
|B|| || |
|Larry Barfield ||xpt2||Consultant|
|Shayne P. Bates, CPP, CISM, CHS-V ||Brivo||Vendor|
|Bob Beliles ||Hirsch Electronics||Vendor|
|Paul Bodell ||IQinVision||Vendor|
|Ed Bonifas ||Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.||Integrator|
|Bill Bozeman ||PSA||Vendor|
|Susan Brady ||IP UserGroup USA||Association|
|Mark Brewer ||ASSA ABLOY||Vendor|
|C|| || |
|Greg Campbell ||Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History||press|
|Lee Caswell ||Pivot3||Vendor|
|Richard Chace ||SIA||Association|
|Ray Coulombe ||Slayton Solutions||Consultant|
|Curt Crum ||Crime Prevention Unit, Boise Police Department||End user|
|Douglas Curtiss ||Sonitrol||Integrator|
|Bob Cutting ||ObjectVideo||Vendor|
|D|| || |
|Joe Davis, CPP, CFI ||T-Mobile||Vendor|
|Bob Dulude ||CoreStreet||Vendor|
|E|| || |
|Albert Elbaz ||Johnson Controls||Integrator|
|Don Erickson ||Security Industry Association||Association|
|Nick Evans ||Abbott||End user|
|F|| || |
|David Fowler ||VidSys||Vendor|
|Brent Franklin ||Unlimited Technologies||Integrator|
|Eric Fullerton ||Milestone Systems||Vendor|
|G|| || |
|Tom Galvin ||GVI Security||Vendor|
|Jack Gee ||Ft. Lauderdale Police Department & President, CLEAR||End user|
|Peter Giacalone ||Giacalone Associates, LLC||Consultant|
|Scott Goldfine ||Security Sales & Integration||Press|
|Jim Gompers ||Gompers Inc.||Consultant|
|H|| || |
|Bob Harris ||Attrition Busters||Consultant|
|Denis Hebert ||President and CEO, HID Global||Vendor|
|Jim Henry ||Henry Bros. Electronics, Inc||Integrator|
|Joe Hooper ||ASSA ABLOY||Vendor|
|Gordon Hope ||Honeywell||Vendor|
|John Hunepohl ||ASSA ABLOY||Vendor|
|Steve Hunt ||HuntBI||Consultant|
|J|| || |
|Mike Janzen ||Aimetis Corp.||Vendor|
|Brad Jarvis ||HID Global||Vendor|
|Sandra Jones ||Sandra Jones and Company||Consultant|
|K|| || |
|Joel King ||Cisco Systems||Vendor|
|Geoff Kohl ||SecurityInfoWatch.com||press|
|Mark Kolar ||IPVisionSoftware||Vendor|
|Eliot Kushner ||Mountain Security||Integrator|
|Sascha Kylau ||DSC||Vendor|
|L|| || |
|Karen Ladd-Baker ||The Protection Bureau||Integrator|
|M|| || |
|Cosimo Malesci ||Fluidmesh Networks Inc.||Vendor|
|Doug Marman ||VideoIQ||Vendor|
|Debra Martin ||Raley's Family of Fine Stores||End user|
|Lynn Mattice ||Security Executive Council||Association|
|H. McCarthy Gipson ||Buffalo, New York Police Department||End user|
|Mark McCourt ||SDM Magazine||press|
|Rich Milburn ||Law Enforcement Consultant, Siras P.I.||Consultant|
|N|| || |
|John Nemerofsky ||Niscayah, Inc||Integrator|
|Fredrik Nilsson ||Axis Communications||Vendor|
|O|| || |
|Dan O'Neill ||Applied Risk Management, LLC||Consultant|
|Brian Offenberger ||Security Selling||Consultant|
|Steven Oplinger ||Integrated Fire and Security Solutions, Inc||Integrator|
|P|| || |
|Tom Patterson ||MagTek||Vendor|
|Sam Pfeifle ||Security Systems News and Security Director News||press|
|R|| || |
|Charlie R. Pierce ||LeapFrog Training & Consulting||Consultant|
|Pedro Ramos ||Agilence||Vendor|
|Todd Rockoff ||HDcctv Alliance||Association|
|Roger Rueda, PSP ||Applied Risk Management, LLC||Consultant|
|Stephen Russell ||3VR Security||Vendor|
|Russ Ryan ||National Biometric Security Project||Association|
|S|| || |
|Scott Schafer ||Arecont Vision||Vendor|
|Steven Schelhammer ||Buffalo Police Department||End user|
|Sara Scroggins ||Pelco||Vendor|
|Scott Selby ||Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History||press|
|Craig Sharman ||Tyco||Vendor|
|Karenne Smith ||Sierra Intelligence Technologies, LLC||Vendor|
|Paul Smith ||DVTel||Vendor|
|Scott Soltis ||Abbott||End user|
|Jo Stark ||IBM Global Technology Services||Vendor|
|Steve Surfaro ||Axis Communications||Vendor|
|Eugene Szatkowski ||Secure-i, Inc||Vendor|
|T|| || |
|Beth Thomas ||Honeywell||Vendor|
|V|| || |
|Steve Van Till ||Brivo Systems LLC||Vendor|
|Bernhard Voit ||Siemens, Security Solutions||Integrator|
|W|| || |
|Bryan Ware ||Digital Sandbox||Vendor|
|Andrew Wartell ||Wartell Consulting, LLC||Consultant|
|Daniel Watkins ||WATKINS & LETOFSKY, LLP||Consultant|
|Jim Webster CPP, CSC ||Security Design Services Corporation||Integrator|
|Andrew Weis ||Civitas Group||Consultant|
|Y|| || |
|Terence Yap ||China Security & Surveillance Technology, Inc. (CSST)||Vendor|
|John Yates ||Pro2Call||Vendor|
So, by my count, that's 86 total speakers, 40 of whom are vendors, 15 are consultants (vendors who don't sell products?), 11 are integrators, 6 are association reps, 6 are members of the press/writers, and 8 are end users.
Is that "vendor heavy?" I think you can make that argument. But, for the reasons outlined above, I'm not surprised by it. Since I know from experience that they're not paying to be on the program, I think it's likely they are the ones who volunteered/most readily said yes. And why wouldn't they say yes? It's to their benefit to be seen as an industry thought leader.
We've been given explicit instructions not to include logos in our power points (I'm working on ours right now, actually - boy would this all look better in Keynote... May have to make the conversion), and to not pimp our respective organizations (I will of course violate that willfully, telling people that reading SSN makes you smarter and that the other publications cause brain cancer).
I think there's value in the educational programming, but I don't run an integration firm or protect people and property as a security director. I'm a poor judge. The judges will weigh in next week. Whether we speak to empty halls or packed seats will tell me just how valuable these sessions are.