March 25th, 2016
There are many different types of security conferences available globally today, some are small and single track and some are massive multi track. Some cater to a variety of topics and some have a more narrow focus. Regardless of their size and content, conferences also differ in their organizers intentions with their events.
Some conferences are mainly intended for their sponsors to do PR or marketing towards attendees. Some conferences are intended as social events where attendees can find opportunities for networking and brainstorming. Some conferences are even intended for the publication and public review of more scholarly research. What we can see is that, depending on the organizers true intentions, things such as attendee prices, prevalence of social activities, speaker selection as well as the expectations on speakers may vary greatly.
But even though most conference goer, speakers, organizers and sponsors are familiar with these different types of events and which ones they personally enjoy and prefer, it can still be unclear to many who the conference is really intended for.
We believe that with any type of conference it is important for the organizer to understand who the event is intended for, who are the customers, what is the products being sold and who is paying.
Understanding this means that we, as conference organizers, can strive to make sure that we work towards creating maximally healthy ecosystem for ourselves, for our attendees, our sponsors and of course for our speakers.
SEC-T believes all parties involved with a conference should feel that they benefit from it in order for the conference ecosystem to flourish. Achieving this means that the conference can be ultimately intended for everyone involved.
SEC-T believes that when attendees are paying for tickets they will have expectations and these expectations will carry over to speakers who therefore should be compensated for their effort.
Because of the pricing model we have chosen, SEC-T’s budget leaves little room for any large monetary compensation. But since we agree with the idea to compensate both speaking efforts and research, and would like to see this employed elsewhere, we have decided to define a strategy. The size of speaker honorarium, where employed, seems to amount to around the price of one regular attendee ticket, and since making this association transfers over to free conferences being free to request uncompensated speaking engagements, we have decided that being a speaker at the annual SEC-T Conference will be rewarded with an honorarium corresponding to the price of one normal admission. This will likely come to change over time as our strategy can be refined. Naturally, since we are compensating the speaker for his or her part in SEC-T, we believe the speaker’s ability to participate should also be cared for by the conference organization.
Speaker compensation strategy
Since SEC-T has expectations on speakers we also compensate speakers with a fixed honorarium of 1000€. Since we also wish to reward excellent speaking efforts and good research we award a 1000€ prize to one talk by audience voting.
Speaker travels, accommodation and food during the conference is of course provided by the conference, as well as the opportunity to register one extra attendee to the conference for free as the speaker’s personal guest.
Honoraria and prices are necessarily a personal compensation to the speaker and will therefore not be paid out to organizations (such as the speakers employer). The speaker may of course choose to donate his or her honoraria and prizes to a charity of the speaker’s choice or forfeit them if needed due to other circumstances.
Since the Spring Pub Event is free for attendees it does not pay an honorarium for speakers but speaker travel and accommodation is covered if needed.
On sponsor ecology
SEC-T believes in nurturing lasting relationships with sponsors in order for both sponsors and the conference to work together in making the event maximally beneficial for everyone involved.
Sponsors should feel that they are welcome to stay with the conference and that their participation with the conference organization, speakers and attendees is received positively by everyone involved. A sponsor should be able to vary their participation over the years without losing their status as a sponsor. At the same time the behavior of the sponsor towards other involved parties should be such that they contribute to a healthy climate with other sponsors, with attendees and speakers and with the conference organization.
It should be obvious by means of transparency that sponsors are not given influence over core functions such as speaker selections, topics, subject selections or such matters in any way that the conference organizations independence from the sponsor could be questioned.
Sponsors should however be encouraged to be a part of the overarching goals of spreading knowledge and inspiring new talent to enter the field of information security.
The SEC-T Conference has currently eight sponsors divided into three levels. Premium, Gold and Silver. The sponsorship costs are distributed so that Gold is priced at about 60% of Premium and Silver is priced at about 60% of Gold. The Premium and Gold sponsors are prefered sponsors for the upcoming Spring Pub Event. Existing sponsors will always be given the opportunity to sponsor upcoming events at the same level as they did with the previous event. If a sponsor chooses to forfeit their position, the opportunity will instead be given for a lower level sponsor to rise to take the forfeited position. At that time the sponsor that was forfeiting their position will be given the opportunity to take the lower level sponsorship position. In order to facilitate the introduction of new sponsors, other supporting opportunities with the conference will also be presented and awarded on a yearly basis. Forfeiting a sponsorship position with the Spring Pub Event does not affect a sponsor’s opportunities with the SEC-T Conference.
At any point in time the SEC-T Organization will be maintaining a publicly available list of all current supporting organizations, ordered by how new opportunities will be presented to them. The ordering of organizations on this list is performed and maintained by the SEC-T Organizers and the process is not open for debate, however we strive to make it fair and balanced based on factors like a supporting organizations current sponsorship level, contributions they have made as a sponsor, sponsor behavior to other contributing parties, the purchases of business tickets or simply making resource donations to our events.
SEC-T also plan to make it possible to make donations for a variety of specially purposed funds that will also be awarded as a sign of sustained support for our organization.
All supporting organizations are encouraged to promote a beneficial climate between each other by appreciating the SEC-T organization needs the diversity of supporting organizations for a healthy ecosystem to flourish. Supporting organizations also act as representatives for the SEC-T events they participate in and as such are encouraged to conduct themselves appropriately to attendees and speakers, they are our mutual guests and we want them to feel welcome and enjoy the event they are paying for.
On Attendee ecology
Ultimately the conference is only a successful event if the attendees feel they got at least what they expected to get out of the conference. Please mind that SEC-T tries to run a tight schedule and mostly we only have the allotted time to accomplish a lunch break or a coffee break. This also goes for the talks. For this reason we have two types of time slots on our schedule; long talks, which are 60 minutes including questions and answers, and smalltalks that are 30 and does not include a question and answers session. So for attendees the best way of supporting a healthy conference ecosystem is respecting the schedule.
Also as an attendee you are crucial to making the conference better, so please take the time to give feedback to the organizers about anything you think should be addressed immediately or in the coming years. Try to keep the conference ecology in mind, is there something we can do together to make the event more conducive to getting happier attendees, speakers or sponsors please tell us about it. You can always send an email to [email protected].
On Community ecology
At this point, if you have read through our visions, goals and strategies and have a picture of what we are about. We suspect you are part of the community for which this ecosystem is important. If you have any ideas on how we can work together to make conferences more worthwhile for everyone involved or just have an idea of how we can make some little detail better for one of the SEC-T events we would very much appreciate it if you take the time to let us know.