Earlier this month CENTRL exhibited at IAPP's Global Privacy Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. We had attended their smaller "Privacy. Security. Risk." conference in Austin, TX last year and were impressed by its size and energy, so we signed up to exhibit at IAPP's annual flagship conference. This is a much larger conference than Austin, in fact, this year's event set an attendance record of over 4,000 attendees.
At a high level, we felt that the conference "checked all the boxes" for CENTRL: It was highly productive for us in terms of learning about industry trends, networking, generating leads and spreading awareness. Here are some quick overall observations.
Energized conference. Having been to a number of industry conferences in the past, I felt that this was one of the busiest and most energized ones I have seen. There is no doubt that Privacy is a pressing topic for companies and people are trying to figure out how to respond. The conversation was dominated by CCPA and emerging regulations in other areas, especially Brazil's LGPD.
Attendees seemed to be a mix of privacy, compliance and data governance officers. A lot of the attendees were managers from privacy departments who are directly responsible for making decisions. There were also people form data governance type functions judging by session topics. This conference was structured much like other IAPP events in that it was a mix of training and general sessions. Attendees were from across all industry verticals. My overall impression was that people were genuinely there to learn from experts, peers and vendors.
Vendor profiles reflect the current stage of this space. One of the features that I was most struck by was the mix of vendors in the exhibit hall. There were a large contingent of consulting-type firms including major law firms, audit and consulting companies. Examples include E&Y, BDO, Grant Thornton and Baker McKenzie. I think this speaks to the consulting-led stage of the industry where companies are looking for advice on how to approach this issue, which leads into the next overview topic.
What we heard at the booth. This was the part of the Summit that really made a big impact on the team - the amount of people asking the same question regarding Privacy compliance, "where do I start?" With GDPR hitting its one-year anniversary, and LGPD and CCPA months away, the urgency to start a privacy compliance program from the ground up, or refine a current program, as well as vendor management, were the main topics of discussion.
As a tech vendor, this was a very productive conference for us. First of all, the ratio of vendors to the attendees was highly favorable. For a 4,000-person conference, there were only about 65 or so vendors. Of that, less than 20 were tech vendors. The traffic flow was excellent (we had several booth demos during the opening night's cocktail reception, a rarity), and people were genuinely interested in learning about products and seeing demos and figuring it all out.
Most sessions were jam packed. Breakout sessions covered a huge variety of big topics in privacy, among them artificial intelligence, privacy by design, cross-border data transfers and data localization.
All in all, the Global Privacy Summit 2019 was a successful event for Team CENTRL. The conversations we had with privacy industry professionals at our booth, as well as at the many social events surrounding the show, definitely made it a worthwhile event. We'll certainly return to the Summit.