I was trying to figure out the mood at the RSA security conference. Due to the recession, attendance is down 30%.
First of all, it appears that the recession affects cybersecurity less than other parts of IT. I would personally describe cybersecurity as a luxury, but compliance (HIPAA, SOX, PCI, etc.) make it a non-luxury. Companies cannot cut back on security and stay within compliance.
Second of all, it seems there has been a shift from products to consulting/services. Companies are encouraged to shed full-time employees (which commit the companies to things like health insurance and severance packages), so they fill the gaps by hiring part time employees (aka. consultants). Likewise, companies may find that if they can’t hire more people to manage more firewalls, they will stop buying firewalls, so hiring freezes can indirectly freeze product spending.
Thirdly, it appears that federal government sales are up. It appears that government departments are flush with cash. Any company that does a substantial amount of business with the government is going to post good earnings this quarter.
Fourth, it seems that when analysts go up to a booth, they are looking for work ("can I advise your on your marketing strategy") rather than information ("tell me about your product"). I've heard about a lot of layoffs in the analyst community. This is part of the larger trend that companies are trying to figure out how to do more with the products they already have, rather than buy new products. I know from experience that companies only use 20% of the functionality of their security products. I'd suggest to analysts looking for work that they write reports on how companies can use that 80% of other functionality of the products they already own.
Attendance did feel sparse this year (30%! Wow!), but I think overall the show did have more meat to it on the floor and in many of the sessions. perhaps having less people allows for this to actually happen.
Just looking at the NSA booth/presence at the show you can certainly see your third point.
Sorry we didn't run into each other at the show.
As a member of the PR team representing RSA Conference, I can tell you that we were not down by 30 percent. While there has been much speculation about attendance this year, the unaudited checked-in number for RSA Conference 2009 shows that attendance was down by less than 15 percent as compared to 2008.
In my own personal opinion, this is quite a good number given what other events are reporting.
- Alex Kirschner
PR agency for RSA Conference
Stop giving away our corporate trade secrets. If all the other analysts start helping people get their jobs done and use their existing investments, my kid will starve. Do you really want that on your conscience!!!
If i have to walk up to a booth and ask a question like that, Dave has permission to shoot me (Just wear your glasses, I'd hate to lose an ear or something).
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