I had a conversation with a dissatisfied sponsor after S4x17. They wanted the attendees’ contact information, and we don’t provide that. They were disappointed that S4 didn’t have an exhibit floor in a hotel ballroom open the whole time with vendor tabletops.They were upset they didn’t get a speaking slot on the Main Stage or Stage 2. They bluntly told me something that has helped with almost every S4 decision after that. They said “You need to decide if this is a sponsor event or an attendee event!” The answer was easy. It’s an attendee event. Everything we do is in an effort to improve the attendee experience and help the community Create The Future of OT and ICS security.
The funny thing is by focusing on the attendee experience it has many ICS vendors saying it is their best event. Not their easiest, but their best. They bring their top technical talent who want to attend and can impress the S4 attendee. The discussions and connections are deeper as the influencers spend time at the event. The sponsor participation has the obvious benefit of funding a large portion of S4. It allows us to have the staging, social events, food and beverage and other niceties. If we, S4, do the right job of selecting and educating the vendor sponsors, then they provide important information and analysis on what is coming next. What asset owners, consultants should be learning about and considering for the next 1 – 3 years.
We analyze and tweak the Sponsor Packages every year. This year the changes are significant as we move from the Fillmore Miami Beach Theater to the beautiful Loews Miami Beach, three blocks from the Surfcomber and on the beach at 16th and Collins. Here are some of the major changes:
- No Sponsor Speaking Spots On S4 Stages – Speaking slots on the Main Stage or Stage 2 Technical Deep Dives have never been included in a sponsor package. The last few years we have tried a Sponsor Stage and then Premium Sponsor/Partner involvement on Stage 3 at S4x22. We have other plans for Stage 3 at S4x23. Vendors are as always encouraged to submit session proposals as part of the CFP. We expect sponsor and non-sponsor vendors will be selected to perform on a S4 Stage.
- S4 Prime Sponsor Rooms – We have eight nice ~25′ x 20′ rooms an escalator ride from the S4 stages available for use. S4 Prime Sponsors will be able to use those rooms for in-depth demos, private meetings, breakout sessions, lunch and learn, social events, team meetings or whatever they want Monday – Thursday of S4 week. This is useful for people you meet at S4 as well as existing contacts as being in the same place is a luxury that shouldn’t be wasted. Monday afternoon while the S4 stages are being set we will put the breakout sessions on the agenda for those that want to get a jump start before the S4 sessions start on Tuesday.
- SBOM / Firmware Analysis Pavilion (working title) – This product category is where the early stage funding is going along with a lot of technical develop and supply chain interest. We hope to have the OT participants in this area in the Pavilion so it is easy for the leading edge attendee at S4 to determine what will come next. We are also cooking up a SBOM / Firmware Analysis Challenge to objectively determine what these solutions can and can not do.
- S4 Lounge – We introduced this at S4x22, but didn’t achieve our vision. Our vision is to make this a VIP type lounge, where all can come, relax, have a cappuccino or juice, and have a conversation or a moment alone on a comfortable chair when you need a break from the sessions. The Loews has a beautiful lounge space in the Rotunda by the S4 stages. This is a branding opportunity, but not the place to be selling, demoing, etc. It is a great place for the S4 Lounge sponsor to invite an attendee to sit down and have a conversation in a reserved area.
- Small Company Sponsor Packages – A number of the lower cost packages (badge pick-up, lunch cabana, craft beer bash) have been restricted to companies with annual revenues of $25M or less. We want to give them a chance to be known to the ICS security community.
- Non-Profit / Community Sponsor Opportunities – The Loews has a great spot for tabletop displays right outside the Main Stage entrance exit doors. Something that would be hard for any attendee to miss. We decided to offer this spot to two non-profit or community benefiting organizations each day. A chance to raise their visibility and give the community a chance to get involved. We will be taking applications for this spot on September 1st. We will be looking for organizations doing good work that are resource strapped. Large organizations with lots of money that happen to be non-profit are unlikely to be selected.
The two things that will be very similar is the Cabana Sessions at the Surfcomber and the S4 Welcome Party at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (although the S4 Welcome Party will not have any sponsors). If you have any interest in sponsoring S4x23, download the Sponsor Packages. The popular S4 sponsor packages typically sell out in the first week or two. Send any questions on this to firstname.lastname@example.org.