It’s springtime in Chicago – Here come the vendor shows

Every spring in Chicago, vendors start holding conferences updating IT professionals on the new products and services they are offering.  The ASCII Success Summit and the ChannelPro SMB Summit are two of the larger shows going around the country.  Yes, a lot of the sessions deal with how an IT professional can run their business better and make more money selling some vendor’s product line.  The point of interest for the small business owner that is not in the IT business is what are the hot new topics and products being pushed at these presentations.

At least 2/3rds of the presentations at these conferences were on how to better protect the IT professionals’ clients from all the nasty malware out there.  One key point presented by all of the security vendors is that no one product or suite of products can protect a site from everything happening in the cyber world.  Each vendor understood that a “stack” of products is needed to protect the end-user and probably the most important of all is end-user education.

Having attended many of these conferences over my career, these are long days with lots of repetitive information.  But occasionally, some vendors talk more about what is happening in the cyber-security field.  Those presentations are preferred over the ones that offer just a quick reference to a statistic and then a long description of how their product addresses that statistic and how you can make money selling their product. 

Having just made a disparaging remark about these conferences, I should also note that these conferences are necessary and important to the IT professional community.  These conferences give new vendors with new unique ideas a marketplace to display their wares.  It is the policy of this site not to talk about specific vendors, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out an example of this happening.

A few years ago, a trio of security professionals decided that what the industry really needed was a product that did not try to prevent malware infections, but would assume that a workstation had been infected and try to point out how to remove the infection.  They would use their experience as paid government award winning hackers to find infections by looking for programs and actions they would have used to be able to control another person’s workstation.  Their success in marking this product forced other anti-malware companies to develop similar software and include it in their anti-malware packages.  When all is said and done, you the end-user benefited from the forum that allowed presentation of the original product.

The point of this discourse is that if your IT professional is not attending shows like these, I would question them on how they are keeping up with advances in the industry.  I would compare that with the experience that you, as a professional in your industry, keep up with advances in your industry.  If you have an IT professional that is not actively keeping track of what is happening in the industry, I would suggest you look for another IT professional.