On a reasonably regular basis, I get asked to speak at events. I mean, I’m not deluged with offers. And none of them pays me. But it’s nice to be wanted.

However, requests in the last few months go something like this:

Me: Thanks ever so. I’d really like to take part. Full disclosure, though. At the end of this month, I’m leaving my current role, and at the beginning of June I’m going to be joining a consulting firm that does software development for clients.

Them: Oh. Right. Forget I asked. Can’t possibly have you speaking. Well, unless you’d like to pay to be a sponsor?

Are all industries like this?

Having spent time on both sides of the supplier/client divide in my (ahem) years of work, it strikes me that at least some of the mistrust that exists between the two stems from the strict separation that exists in so many of our industry events. Suppliers pay to play and fund the events (and too often then fall back on ropey sales pitches). Clients go for free and put up with the ropey sales pitches in order to meet people who aren’t suppliers.

Is the main issue here that we seem to have ended up with largely free-to-attend events? Or that the people let out of suppliers to meet with clients are too often the ones with sales targets to meet?

Ultimately the success of the technology industry overall is wrapped up in trusting relationships between those consuming the technology and those producing and maintaining it. That there are so few forums where the two sides appear as peers rather than as rivals feels like an issue.

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