The IFSEC "Global Influencers" Is A Joke

By John Honovich, Published Jan 19, 2021, 10:04am EST

IFSEC, best known for its struggling UK trade show, is expanding its 'influencer' rankings. Ranking 'influence' is inherently dubious but IFSEC's random approach shows how much of a joke it is.

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In their most recent rankings, they had 100+ people. If you know of even 1/5th of these people, that would be impressive.

The category most relevant to IPVM readers is "Commercial Security – Manufacturers/Vendors/Integrators/Installers", so let's take a look.

At #10:

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IFSEC's rationale for Milne's influence in the security industry is that he volunteers for the Boy Scouts and likes boating, sailing, and camping? Is IFSEC that lazy to leave this in or are they trying to tell us to not take these rankings seriously?

Btw, Pivot3's claim to fame is the industry's largest layoff in recent memory. Pivot3 'influenced' investors to burn through hundreds of millions for this shamble of a company.

Next:

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Pelco? Influential? Is this 2005?

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Arcules is the answer to the question: how can a multi-billion dollar company (Canon) and one of the world's largest VMS (Milestone) spend tens of millions to struggle and lag startups?

And if Arcules head of sales is #8, what does that mean for Eagle Eye and Verkada (not on the IFSEC list) who have whipped Arcules in the market?

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No idea who this person is. LinkedIn shows its a UK integrator with 19 employees:

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#5 and #6 more of the same, no idea who they are.

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Like Hikvision or not, everyone should agree that Hikvision belongs on a list of influential people or companies in the industry. But the only Hikvision person to make the list is a white British guy who is some 6 levels below Hikvision's actual executives? Can we nominate Hikvision's co-founder, Chairman, Communist Party Secretary, and national government member Chen Zongnian?

To #2:

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PSIM was a bust. Bloodworth pitched and pushed PSIM for 2 decades before finally giving up and selling to Everbridge. This is influence?

The Axis claim is even more laughable. Bloodworth has been gone from Axis for more than 30 years. Axis did not even develop its first network camera until 6 years after Bloodworth left.

Also, only one current Axis employee made any of these lists, coming in at #17, which is odd considering they are one of the security industry's largest and most influential companies, by any metric.

Who's #1:

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I literally have no idea who he is. In fairness, he's probably more influential than Keith Bloodworth.

I do remember CSL's 'Engineers of Tomorrow':

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A number of years ago, I published The Engineers of Tomorrow Are Men, The Women Remain Props. The following year, CSL stopped using women as props. Is that influence?

LinkedIn Promo Tool

While the IFSEC trade show was struggling even before the pandemic and their planned July 2021 site has no been transformed into a vaccination center amidst the London lockdown, the 'influencer' rankings have gained popularity as a self-promotional tool on LinkedIn.

Stunt, Not Substance

To that end, any organization that wants to run promotional stunts, influencer rankings is a good idea.

But what is the substance to this? I do not think there is a way to do this fairly and accurately, given the complexity of assessing influence (in what ways, segments, regions, etc.). However, if IFSEC is going to do this, can they at least try to think it through?

Comments (44)

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An anonymous risk manager in the industry told IPVM:

This is our industry's version of a popularity contest, where the amount of groupthink, brownnosing, and how many times you can tag the same clique of smoothbrained lugnuts in a self aggrandizing post about your latest podcast or magazine column determines how influential someone is

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@John What would your take be if you were on this list?

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Same. I was actually on the IFSEC list a few years ago and did not even care.

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Did they contact you about adding you to the list? Or was it a surprise?

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I was not contacted. I am not sure what the norm though is for them to contact people on their list.

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Maybe you should have emphasized your completely unrelated community service activities...that may have gotten you on the front page

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These influencer awards often seem to come down to people who are not really all that relevant, on both the selection committee and the recipient pools, trying to maintain some kind of lost status.

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(Nomination reasoning) - are they not even sure why he is on the list?

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Alex's most influential move: scrubbing his role at Hikvision from his bio.

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Lot of companies on there he is spearheading for

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Quite a few people don't have a company listed after their name, and the bio discusses their previous stints. I assume that means they are unemployed? Maybe this is a recruiting tool to get them jobs by inflating them all???

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I know a few people that were recognized and it seems to coincide with the number of connections on LinkedIn and the frequency of posts.

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Unbelievable that Undisclosed #1 is not on this list.

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It would be if IPVM would take my suggestion and make me always UND #1

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Thanks, but I really don't consider myself an influencer. I'm just an average guy with a keyboard.

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This is one of those things that really annoys me. I mean, surely the concept of an "influencer" is someone who indeed has some influence. The clue is in the name. But how many people have you encountered, especially on social media, who bandy around terms such as influencer, but you never heard of them, or aren't influenced by them, in the least. The only thing, that I personally, dislike more than this, are those who list "thought leadership" or "thought leader" on their bio or LinkedIn page. Really? Is that really the best that you can do?

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...in this context, "influencer" means you already have a bunch of followers for potentially unrelated reasons, and agreed to do some product placement in exchange for nice things being said about you in the industry. Clearly it doesn't mean you've actually done your homework, demonstrated by how quickly Hik and others fell off of their bios once the curtains were pulled back a bit on the back end processes.

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I bet none of these guys are technology evangelist or sherpas either.

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While the main point of your article is completely valid, I knew even before I looked that the Pivot3 exec bio is cut/pasted from their website, just based on the content. I don't have an issue with them taking bios from online to introduce the people on the list. Without looking, I'll bet that a fair number of them are from either their LinkedIn pages or their company websites. The entire thing is just a useless vanity exercise; it isn't worth picking on individual bios IMHO.

It's like the trade rags these days. I (regrettably) signed up for a free subscription to one of them. They are 100% articles written by company marketing departments. I no longer bother opening the plastic wrap.

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I knew even before I looked that the Pivot3 exec bio is cut/pasted from their website, just based on the content

Yes, I assume these company's marketing departments send this in and IFSEC just runs it. Even still, is anyone awake at IFSEC? You would think someone at IFSEC would read it and notice "pursues his interest in boating, camping, and sailing" and then remove it. I guess my standards are too high. Should IFSEC be held to some standards?

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You would think someone at IFSEC would read it and notice "pursues his interest in boating, camping, and sailing" and then remove it.

That is a fair point. Likely, the person who made the decision to do this exercise handed it off to someone for whom it was an annoying chore.

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You would think someone at IFSEC would read it and notice "pursues his interest in boating, camping, and sailing" and then remove it.

That of course would imply some degree of competency within IFSEC.

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Its been a good few years since IFSEC was a worthwhile exercise.

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I have been to IFSEC 3 or 4 times - I think I should have made this list.

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This is a really important topic about security. "NOT"!

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Our industry culture does not only have to based on data sheets. Industry news is helpful and political actions can help raise awareness.

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As much as I seem to be in agreement with most people about the term "influencer", if we had to make a list, who do we actually, and seriously, think should be on it?

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: If We Had To Make An 'Influencer' List, Who Do We Actually, And Seriously, Think Should Be On It?

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The top spot would go to a group of people, the criminals that keep us in business.

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I only recognized one name on the list and I use to run one of the largest suppliers of sensors for many years there.

IFSEC was always the good ole boys and outside of having a large show they were useless for anything else just like BSIA. In fact this list may have come from BSIA

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How could you not know #7, James Brown?

IPVM Image James Brown, Godfather of Soul, married to four, father of ten. Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Georgia and his career spanned four decades. Member of the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He is fond of LSD and Angel Dust and in 1988 was convicted for carrying a deadly weapon at a public gathering, attempting to flee police, and driving under the influence of drugs. Also, an avid outdoorsman, James volunteers as a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, which provides him the opportunity to pursue his interests in boating, sailing, and camping while giving something back to the community.

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So the fact that you either don't know these people or that some of them are working or have worked for companies that are underperforming or have previously underperformed automatically disqualifies them as influencers in their profession or region of operation? Thats a weird measurement.

It is my understanding that the people selected are voted by a panel who thought them worthy and that the people being selected have no knowledge previously that they are being selected.

Is it the process that needs reviewing or the company that supports and publishes it?

Interesting that you didn't review everyone on their lists, why these select few?

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#12 is an IFSEC influencer. You should have disclosed that conflict of interest and, since you did not, I am doing that for you.

Interesting that you didn't review everyone on their lists, why these select few?

As I said in the opening of the post:

The category most relevant to IPVM readers is "Commercial Security – Manufacturers/Vendors/Integrators/Installers", so let's take a look.

I am focusing on the category that I have the most expertise in and our readers have the most knowledge on.

have worked for companies that are underperforming or have previously underperformed automatically disqualifies them as influencers in their profession or region of operation? Thats a weird measurement.

That's a good question and I agree, I don't think that working at an underperforming company automatically disqualifies a person as 'influencers'.

3 important aspects:

  • IFSEC is claiming to rank the most important influencers, that's why they assign numbers to them.
  • IFSEC is limiting the influencers to a certain total number. The deduction is that the people on the list are more influential than people not on the list.
  • The company one works for is inherently a major factor of one's influence since business people's power is generally applied via one's company's position and abilities.

Let's take a practical example - Arcules. Arcules CRO is ranked 8th and this is Arcules employment trends, per LinkedIn:

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What should Verkada's Chairman Hans Robertson be ranked? This is Verkada's employment trends, per LinkedIn:

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Two years ago, both companies had about the same number of employees, now Verkada has 8 times Arcule's number.

So what did Arcules CRO do that makes him more influential than a direct competitor who far outgrew them in the last 2 years?

The IFSEC 'commercial security' list is devoid of any sense about the market they are claiming to rank people in.

To be clear, IFSEC has the right to publish such a list. I, and others, have the right to laugh at it and point out how nonsensical it is.

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I think the problem I have with this article is the TMZ/tabloid feel.

Yesterday I read a fantastic article on IPVM with deep research and truly groundbreaking reporting about human rights abuse. Today I read an article that basically says 'LOL how did THIS guy make THIS list!?'.

It looks like I'm in the minority with this take as there's plenty of comments and reactions to this article.

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Robert, I can respect that some people really like this article and some, like you, don't.

As for TMZ/Tabloid, this is an article about 'people' (as is IFSEC's listing) but it's grounded in our market research and testing.

I could see if we said "This person's outfit sucks or their mustache looks funny" that it would be TMZ, but this is based on analyzing people's accomplishments / 'influencing'.

Today I read an article that basically says 'LOL how did THIS guy make THIS list!?'.

My concern is more fundamental than "THIS' or "THAT' guy. If we were to say the person ranked first should be third and the person fifth should be second, I could see your point. On the contrary, it's that IFSEC's list is fundamentally phony.

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Simon Banks (CSL) does a lot of good things in the UK Security Marketplace - He's a big lead in organising a scheme that helps promote and fund apprenticeships for the electronic security industry in the UK.

His company, CSL, is a big leader in intruder alarm and CCTV secure communications to alarm receiving centres for many parts of the world. (Dualcom, Emizon, Webway)

I vote that he is actually a true influencer!

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#13, thanks! To your point, if IFSEC wants to make this a "UK Influencer" contest, they should do that. At that point, it makes a lot more sense to say Hikvision's UK Sales leader is influential or CSL is influential but they bill it as a 'Global' ranking.

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I agree John

If it was UK based then we know a number of people on the list. A lot of what we do over here remains in 'closed circulation' trade journals/magazines so unless they were up to no good on an international scale (or raiding a seat of Government) you'd likely never hear anything about them in the USA.

I wonder if anyone on here fancies re-writing the list into geographical areas and adding some context?

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Selectamark have been a leading innovator of security marking solutions for assets, for a number of years, although they are not commonly in the news and certainly not forefront in the electronic security market place, they have contributed to a measurable reduction in theft of items like bicycles and caravans, plus the conviction or assistance in the conviction of criminals by the easier identification of stolen property.

All of our tools, tool boxes, laptops, vehicles, laptops etc are currently marked using either Selectamark products or Smartwater...

Would I consider them good at what they do? Yes.

Global influencer? probably not...

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Gary Harmer

Genuine, really nice chap. Quietly influential and touches/has touched many parts of the electronic security industry in the UK and Middle East over the many years he has been a part of our fantastic industry. He manages and influences his team with respect and dignity.

I know that he works at Hikvision which means that @John Honovich automatically hates him :)

*Disclosure, I used to work for Gary a number of years ago which has not affected what I wrote here!

Good at what he does? Yes

UK influencer? Yes absolutely!

Global influencer? depends on the reach/definition of global in this context - quite probably

Is he going to be pleased that he made the list? I'll wager that he's grinning from ear to ear still, possibly even with a celebratory G&T! (Is that right Gary?)

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I know that he works at Hikvision which means that @John Honovich automatically hates him :)

LOL, I met Gary once, he seems like a genuinely nice guy and I can certainly believe that he is good at what he does.

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I’d be interested to know the purpose or driver for this article? With all respect, who cares?

I am a adult who can make my own judgements.

I have no affiliations or an opinion of IFSEC either way.

For what it’s worth I think this is poor, cheap journalism and bullying of individuals which has no place in the industry.

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With all respect, who cares?

Lots of people, evidently, given how many comments and reads this had. To be clear, you don't have to care about this, some people can care, some people can not.

bullying of individuals

I challenge you to make a serious case of how this is bullying.

Take the first critique:

IFSEC's rationale for Milne's influence in the security industry is that he volunteers for the Boy Scouts and likes boating, sailing, and camping? Is IFSEC that lazy to leave this in or are they trying to tell us to not take these rankings seriously?

Btw, Pivot3's claim to fame is the industry's largest layoff in recent memory. Pivot3 'influenced' investors to burn through hundreds of millions for this shamble of a company.

What's bullying? I analyzed that IFSEC used this person volunteering for the boy scouts as an irrelevant justification for security industry influence. I cited our original reporting on his company's layoff and then mentioned another fact of how much money the company has raised before this layoff.

Again, you want me a serious case that this is bullying, the floor is yours, but come with a thorough argument, not just not a swipe. What do you have David?

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What do I have John?

Well.....it’s late so not much energy to get in to a debate! But as I said above, I think the article is poor IMO, bordering on clickbait, and devalues all the good stuff you and IPVM do for the industry.

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bordering on clickbait

If this is clickbait, what does that make the IFSEC Top Influencers? Do you think the IFSEC Top Influencers is legitimate?

I wrote this in response to IFSEC repeatedly promoting this. I don't care about clicks, I care that IFSEC Influencer's program is illegitimate and want to push back against it.

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