I arrived for the 5th year to the Moscone Center in the heart of San Francisco for the RSA Conference. Interestingly enough it is like old school - everyone knows everyone. For my past colleagues who have gone to other companies, strangely enough the information security industry remains a VERY small community of friends.
This year it was a little sobering. My team, Public Sector Americas, had exceptional meetings with customers. So, thank you! BUT, given the budget constraints at the federal level, there a limited number of federal teams present to discuss the future, roadmap and all that jazz.
Federal Times Mobile reported that agencies spend $268 million on conferences and I don’t think anyone would disagree that is obviously mismanaged to a degree. It doesn’t mean that they need to get squashed; just maybe become more responsible on where they spend their money.
In the private sector it is not uncommon to build relationships through meetings, dinners, outings, etc. In government, the “rules” don’t allow you or your customers to network in that way because it is believed there is an unfair advantage. In many cases, our federal workers today are like everyone else….extremely busy. When they attend a conference it is their time to absorb and gives them the “right” to not focus on what is directly in front of them but consider the future and the vision of what tomorrow should be. So now, given sequestration, it is a little unnerving to hear Todd Park and others talk about innovation -- yet we are cutting our federal employees ability to think, learn, think what next generation is and what innovators are creating, designing and building for tomorrow. Oh yeah, and giving us INPUT. So, what is the answer? If there are no shows then federal employees will only be given what is fed to them directly. There is no time for spark. We need a better solution.