ISA: the new image...better than the old one?

Exerpts from a hot news release from ISA: New ISA Vision to Debut at ISA EXPO 2005 "Setting the Standard for Automation" Message Comes to Life at Annual Event Research Triangle Park, NC (19 September 2005) - ISA's new positioning statement is not to be confused with a mere tagline - it's a message and a promise that will resound in every ISA initiative, from books and standards to conference sessions. Well, it sure is a tasty promise. But like all promises, we have to see who's going to walk the walk. It seems a little presumptuous of ISA to claim to set the standard in automation, after its performance over the past few years. But there is hope that there is life in the old dog yet. Attendees at this year's ISA EXPO can expect to see a new look for all of ISA's marketing materials, a fresh approach to InTech, an increased focus on certification programs, a new resource to define the automation profession, a conference program focused on critical industry issues, and much more. I'm sorry, but this seems a whole lot like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. ISA should be spending time and money fixing internal problems and generating a value proposition that their members and their members' employers can believe in and act on, instead of new marketing materials to get members to buy more stuff, and get advertisers to buy more ads. Revenue is good. Don't get me wrong. But long term strategy is better. ISA EXPO 2005 attendance projections are the highest in years - numbers are almost 50% higher than they were at this time in 2004, and many attendees and exhibitors are traveling from other countries to attend the event. Having been conducting surveys of vendors who are, and are not, coming, I find myself extremely skeptical of this statement. It would have made a more resounding oomph if numbers had been attached, instead of relativity and motherhood statements. Most vendors are predicting that this ISA show will be very poorly attended, and some I've talked to are considering ending their exhibiting days with ISA. "Of particular interest to attendees will be the new automation resource that will make its debut at the event," commented Chip Lee, Director, Publishing Services. "A Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge will truly change the way we look at the profession, and it's bound to become the authoritative, comprehensive source for automation professionals." The book, edited by Vernon Trevathan, is based on the seven technical categories that make up the automation body of knowledge, as defined by the Certified Automation Professional program's intensive job study. Over thirty leading experts have contributed to the resource. I deeply regret that due to the temporary staffing situation at CONTROL that I was not able to complete my assigned section for the ABoK. I think this is one of the greatest things ISA has done in years, and I am looking forward to buying my own personal copy of this book. I encourage everybody else to buy a copy too. What do you think? Walt