'Independent' Security Consultant Organization Sells Off Speaking Slots To Manufacturers

By John Honovich, Published May 10, 2019, 09:24am EDT (Info+)

The International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) have sold numerous speaking slots to manufacturers.

iapsc speaking for sale

This is part of their $5,000 'Platinum' sponsorship, giving paying manufacturers a "15-minute presentation to a dedicated audience of consultants" at their annual conference.

IAPSC provided IPVM detailed feedback on the program, emphasizing that the manufacturers are 'vetted' and that "no expectation or requirement that any payment of services or purchase of products will result" from such sponsorship.

Inside this note, we examine the program, IAPSC's explanation and our concerns.

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Poll / ****

Comments (13)

Philosophically, this is nothing new.  It has been a common practice for vendors to "participate" in the funding of local events put on by consultants. I understand the difference in that this is a national organization, but the concept is similar..."Help us pay for the event and we can hold more of these is the future, and allow intimate contact between end users, consultants and vendors".  While this conversation could easily go off the rails if we start a discourse on the vetting of manufacturers, I did see both HIK and Dahua at a recent consultant event.

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Philosophically, this is nothing new

Sure, and the winners of this 'old' way are the manufacturers who spend the most on sales and marketing.

I recognize that many win from this 'old' system but let's be realistic and admit the obvious - the reason why these manufacturers are spending so much to reach ~50 consultants here and ~75 consultants there is because they know they can influence buying decisions through such campaigns.

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"...because they know they can influence buying decisions through such campaigns."  I absolutely agree. One of the classical definitions of selling is the transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another. As a recognition of Internet marketing and social media campaigns, many suppliers struggle to differentiate their products through face to face interaction. Any event, properly administered, that allows such interaction, is not necessarily a bad thing. 

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The decision of whether or not a dinner, a cigar, a taste of whiskey influences a person to use one product or another really boils down to the ethics of the individual.  If you are swayed by any of these enticements are you really serving your client?  I think not.  Judge on the performance of the product and its ability to fulfill the requirements of the client.

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The world gets smaller or the site grows yet again.  Hello Bill.

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I hope you are doing well my friend.

 

Bill

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boils down to the ethics of the individual. If you are swayed by any of these enticements are you really serving your client? I think not.

Bill, strongly agree with you.

I guess the challenge is how do you know if they are being swayed? Both the 'ethical' and 'unethical' consultant (by definition) will both say they are not swayed.

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Its a matter of trust John.  The consultant needs to establish that with the client.  One way is to offer more than one solution.  The "right choice" can be proven out in performance testing, pricing, etc.

I never walk in and say you HAVE to buy X or Y because I am a X or Y shop.

Disclosure can be another way.  Simply state (truthfully) that you do not attend fully sponsored vendor events, you do not accept travel or lodging at vendor events, etc.

The burden fall on both the consultant and the client to build that trust relationship.  

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As usual, Bill is a practical person.  I’ll stay anonymous, but I’ve known him for years and we shared a project that had one of the funniest obstacles.  

The IT group shut down the network for updates and maintenance every Wednesday at I believe noon and everyone was okay with it.

That information popped up casually as we discussed interconnecting buildings for security over their network. 

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"The decision of whether or not a dinner, a cigar, a taste of whiskey influences a person to use one product or another really boils down to the ethics of the individual."

of course this is true.... but you are referring to conscious bias.

the reality here is that we are talking about unconscious bias.

and if manufacturers didn't already know that these types of junkets can (and do) influence unconscious bias, they wouldn't spend all the money required to host them.

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these types of junkets can (and do) influence unconscious bias

Or said more politely, they build personal relationships or friendships that they could not get (or would be far harder) if they did not buy a multi-day wining and dining event.

As one veteran sales executive explained to me after the Axis whiskey tasing debate, one of the benefits of these junkets is that after them it is much easier to get through to ask questions and speak with consultants. And defenders of these practices will rejoin that this does not guarantee business but good salespeople know this buys them an advantage over their competitors who do not have as easy access.

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It's all about access.

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Update, the IAPSC recently did a "Partner Webinar" with Arcules, as screencapped below:

IPVM Image

The IAPSC later removed the 'partner' designation telling IPVM that they "decided that 'partner' was probably not an appropriate word to use to describe the sponsors that support our educational events. We have decided not to use this word going forward in our promotional materials."

The IAPSC also responded with the following broader comments about such offerings:

Thank you for contacting IAPSC about this issue. The Partner Webinar Series is an extension of our ongoing efforts to allow IAPSC members to stay current with the latest in security technology and practices. Like with our annual conferences, we offer certain prequalified sponsors the opportunity to participate in these educational events. This issue was previously discussed with you in detail by our former President, Lynda Buel in email correspondence dated May 7, 2019. The webinars are essentially a virtual version of what is presented at the conference, so our position on sponsorship remains the same, and I see no need to address it again here.

You reported on this perceived conflict of interest in a detailed article in IPVM on May 10, 2019: 'Independent' Security Consultant Organization Sells Off Speaking Slots To Manufacturers It should be reiterated that while there is nothing in IAPSC Bylaws that prohibit IAPSC from having vendors sponsor events, IAPSC members as individuals are not allowed to accept compensation from manufacturers except under a very specific set of circumstances. (This compensation is in the form of expense reimbursement and was outlined in the May 7, 2019 correspondence.) IAPSC Bylaws state that members are expected to act independently and in the best interests of their clients at all times. As a consultant practicing for more than 35 years, I can assure you that a manufacturer’s presence or non-presence at an IAPSC event has no impact whatsoever on the products that I recommend. I am sure that this is also true of a majority of my colleagues.

IPVM is a respected source of information in the security community and many IAPSC members subscribe to IPVM and value the editorial content that you provide. I recognize that we may disagree on this specific issue but hope that we can continue to have a mutually beneficial relationship as time goes on.

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