My First Impressions of a Security Trade Show

Inspired by Jennifer Garner’s character on J.J. Abrams’ hit TV series, Alias, I was looking for a new job and found myself contemplating the life of an international spy. Across my screen came ‘Executive Assistant to the VP Americas’ at Milestone Systems in the video surveillance side of the security industry, and I thought “Close enough!”.

I celebrated my two-year anniversary with Milestone at ISC West 2017 in Las Vegas. Not only was this my first security industry trade show, but also my first trade show experience ever. The following is a synopsis of what I gleaned.

I was unprepared for the stimuli exuding from the showroom floor. Exhibitors demanded attention with laser lights and banging drums. The room was buzzing with energy from start to finish, packed with 29,000 attendees and over 225 exhibitors, with Milestone one of the busiest among them.

Expanding from a 10’ x 10’ to a 60’ x 40’ two-story booth in a dozen years indicates how Milestone is an impressive company to work for. In my opinion, the growth cultivates more responsibility. Milestone has an acronym for their company values, which I’m behind 110%: ROIFI = Reliable, Open, Innovative, Flexible and Independent. Every employee learns and knows these well. I don’t believe Milestone’s growth happened by chance; it was won by hard work underpinned by these values.

It’s clear to me that Milestone has become an important influence in the security industry. As I toured the showroom floor, I heard Milestone being discussed. I quickly looked to see if those speaking saw my lanyard with our logo on it, but no, I was accidently eavesdropping on positive Milestone conversations which increased my pride in my company.

Among other noteworthy companies, Milestone helps reflect the security industry. Milestone’s stated purpose emphasizes the community of partnerships: ‘Together We Make the World See’. Making the world see is what video surveillance does. We bring what is otherwise not visible into the light. Every company at ISC West shares a related aim – to protect people and property.

In the end, that’s why we all flew to Vegas. I started imagining every company rallying around a common goal as one great big value-centric community of innovative security experts. In fact, the Thursday morning charity run for Mission 500 symbolized that common-goal mentality and spoke the message of us all being in this together.

I was given the opportunity to attend a few classes held by SIA (Security Industry Association) Education while at ISC West, where I learned a few more nuggets of truth that put the whole ISC West experience and security community into perspective for me. I gathered that we need to work together to secure the world while ensuring the industry has a healthy future.

According to leading security consultant Ray Bernard, technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, the security industry needs to advance ahead of the IT innovation curve instead of lagging behind it by 5-10 years. Bernard says we’ve missed two huge opportunities already and he doesn’t want to see our industry miss the third one. The first was the Y2K network upgrade, the second was the Voice Over IP network upgrades, the third opportunity that we can’t let pass us by is the Digital Ceiling, which includes network and security technology upgrades funded by energy savings from PoE-powered intelligent LED lighting upgrades (see the video).

Another opportunity at the show was people watching! I had heard rumors of ‘booth babes’, but didn’t think they would be dressed to the ‘business-inappropriate’ extremes I saw in some of the stands. According to my colleagues, the number of companies hiring them year over year is diminishing. That’s a good trend I hope continues. My wish would be to see this archaic tradition discontinued. Our industry is chock-full of intelligent, innovative people displaying the latest and greatest assets for the security industry. Not one company should think they need to entice attendees to their booth by any other means than the astonishing, potentially life-saving inventions they’re showcasing. Cheers to the many exhibitors who reflected professionalism, class, and dignity on behalf of the security industry.

I learned at ISC West that the future of our industry is dependent on our ability to cultivate relationships, maintain our values, innovate with determination, and recruit new resources.

In my class on Tuesday, David Morgan acknowledged the lack of a fresh, new, young pool of talent which limits our industry. Ted Wilkinson with Axis Communications mentioned the same thing in a panel discussion on Thursday morning; he announced that Axis has begun to offer their training classes at the Community and State Universities to generate interest from college students to join the security industry. When I could see that our industry is addressing the same challenges, I began to picture a brighter future – and I saw the reality that we need each other to succeed.

To sum up, I witnessed a community of innovative individuals who can collaborate to move our security industry forward to help keep people safe. My first impressions of ISC West were excitement illuminated with the foresight of even more potential. Bernard said it perfectly when he stated, “We’re preparing for events we hope never happen.” That alone should motivate us all to see a healthy future.

by Kristi Corno, Executive Assistant to the VP, Milestone Systems