ISA to move to knowledge-based event

Automation Week to replace ISA Expo in 2010
By Bob Vavra October 8, 2009

ISA_logo
After another year of declining attendance and exhibitors,

the International Society of Automation announced Wednesday it would end its

ISA Expo and would instead conduct a week-long series of knowledge-based

programs and events.

The first ISA Automation Week will be Oct. 4-7, 2010 at the

Westin Galleria in downtown Houston.

That’s a major change from the past few years, where the Expo was held at Houston’s Reliant

Center exhibition hall. In

going away from an event centered on trade show booths and floor traffic, ISA

officials said Wednesday they wanted to get back to more of the core principles

of ISA.

“It’s all about knowledge,” said ISA president Jerry Cockrell.

“ISA is a knowledge society. We have 30,000 members and we train, we educate,

we run seminars and symposia, we have standards, books, educational programs –

everything we disseminate is based on knowledge. We’re excited about what ISA

Automation Week can offer.”

This year, those education programs drew just 200

registrants, while about 8,000 attended the Expo. Both figures were down

significantly from 2008, and overall ISA attendance fell in the last decade. There

were also noticeably fewer exhibitor booths on the Reliant Center

floor. While the cost and logistics of holding such an event in a convention

center were factors, ISA officials focused their announcement around being able

to call more attention to the work of ISA technical committees and the ability

to deliver better knowledge more effectively.

What it will mean for vendors was also clear. While

suppliers will be able to exhibit at Automation Week, they will be limited to

10-by-10 spaces, and no vendor will be able to have more than two spaces. With

just 100 booth spaces available for the 2010 show in Houston, the emphasis will go away from

product displays. In fact, the display floor will be closed during technical

sessions at Automation Week to move attendees toward those sessions.

ISA officials said they will continue to alter the

Automation Week format between now and the 2010 event, and left open that the

2011 event could be moved out of Houston

and expanded in the size of exhibitor booths available. But the days of a trade

show event built around automation knowledge are over.

“The show used to be the place where companies announced

product releases. Now there are many other ways to get products out into the

market,” said ISA executive director Pat Gouhin. “The whole dynamics have

changed; we have to change, too.”

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