I’ve often heard marketing managers question the value of trade shows such as InfoSecurity, but there’s one show that I’ve only ever heard good things about – Les Assises de la Securite. Many cyber security companies that we’ve worked with over the years have praised this annual event that takes place in Monaco in October. I was fortunate enough to experience it first-hand and – as an attendee at many events around the globe, I can now say that I’m a convert – this really is the best show that I’ve attended and I’ve been to quite a few!
How do I know? Well I was told it many times over by CISOs from leading French companies who explained how this was the one event for which they always cleared their schedules. I heard it too from journalists, who told me that the access that the show gives them to industry experts and end users provides them with enough stories for the next three months.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should also say that éclat will be handling the PR activities for a brand new English version of the event called Cyber Security Connect, organised by DG Consultants – the brains behind Les Assises – taking place in Monaco in November 2018. That’s why I found myself on a BA flight with the advance guard of the British CISO glitterati, heading off to Monaco to see for ourselves whether Les Assises really is different to the rash of security conferences and exhibitions that are popping up every month.
The official verdict from the group of CISOs was a massive ‘yes’. What makes it different is not just the fact that it’s a fabulous location – who wouldn’t trade the French Mediterranean for London’s Olympia. It’s the fact that the whole event is geared around the delegates, not the vendors. The trip, including accommodation and entry is completely free for the delegates and DG grant an allowance of 200 Euros for their flight tickets after the event – but they must be of the correct seniority – not the usual mix of students, consultants and people looking for a job that often make up the majority of exhibition visitors! The vendors pick up the bill for guaranteeing an audience of senior security decision makers. But it isn’t just about the VIP experience, it’s the format of the event which is different. The fact that the themes for the workshops and forums are determined by a panel of CISOs. The pièce de resistance are the one-to-one meetings and during this year’s event over 5,000 one-to-one meeting were organised with the 1,360 or more visitors. What’s particularly interesting is that each discussion is customised to actual projects that the security professionals are working on – offering vendors the opportunity to explain how they could bring value to the project. This is a far cry from the traditional exhibition mentality where vendor sales people launch themselves at passing visitors, thrusting light sabres, stress balls or other enticing give-aways on them, in an effort to attract their attention.
What’s interesting is that the event offers a huge opportunity for security professionals to network amongst themselves and discuss common problems and form genuine working relationships with their peers. The formula, which the French have refined over the last 17 years, clearly works and is one which our British advance party of CISOs enthusiastically embraced – promising that they would be sure to go home and tell all their colleagues about it. So, in an age when Brexit continues to dominate the headlines, in one corner of Southern France, Anglo-French relations look set for a whole new chapter of entente cordiale!