ASIS Sells GSX 2019 Education Sessions

By John Honovich, Published on May 01, 2019

New for 2019, ASIS is selling GSX education sessions, an ethically problematic approach and something we have not seen before in this industry.

[Update: The IAPSC also sells off speaking slots at their conference.]

For $5,000, an exhibitor gets the right to pick and hold an education session, as the excerpt from their 2019 Sponsorship prospectus shows:

In addition to the $5,000, the buyer needs to spend a total of $25,000 on sponsorships with ASIS to meet the 'silver level sponsorship' requirement as the excerpt below shows:

ASIS told IPVM that:

GSX continues to provide the most robust educational offerings in the security profession. The GSX Exhibitor Hosted Education program recognizes the subject matter expertise of our vendor partners and provides attendees the opportunity to learn about security trends, new technologies, and innovative solutions to the continually evolving threat landscape directly from the solution providers. These are exclusive opportunities and are limited to 5 sessions on a show floor stage, which are in addition to the 300+ peer-driven education programs offered throughout our paid conference and expo stages.

Ethical Concerns

While (some) vendor (employees) have subject matter expertise, they are biased to their own offerings. Moreover, picking sessions based on money rather than merit is wrong. Imagine IPVM selling posts to manufacturers as a sense of comparison (which we would never do). And ASIS prides itself on representing security managers, not manufacturers, so it is a particularly peculiar conflict of interest.

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It is easy to circumvent the 'focused on education and may not be used for sales' element. Instead of a manufacturer calling out part numbers (C3003-E, C2005, C7050, etc.), the manufacturer 'educates' on, for example, "How IP Audio Improves Security Management" (i.e., Axis). This is a problem with all manufacturer 'education' but worse here where the wealthiest companies can literally buy their way into sessions.

Value Concerns

$5,000 for 30 minutes is not trivial. Perhaps they get 50 to 100 attendees, at an effective cost per attendee of $50 to $100 each. The manufacturers could take those same people out to a fancy dinner at the same cost for a greater effect, etc.

On the other hand, if just one of the attendees is new to the manufacturer and turns into a customer, that could certainly more than pay for the cost.

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Adding Free Popcorn and Water

On a less controversial note, ASIS is also adding free food and drinks to the show floor, with sponsors funding that:

popcorn and water graphics

Considering many exhibition halls charge $4 for a bottle of water or a small snack, these will certainly be welcome additions.

Higher Standards

IPVM believes the industry should have higher ethical standards and that any organization and, in particular, ASIS as a non-profit end-user organization, should not be selling education sessions.

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