More on the ISA situation

From Sean Robinson: Folks; As a past FPID director, I have to add a few general comment, aside from an endorsement of the 6 point plan. Part of the reason for the decline in membership and relevance has to do with the shift of technical talent from within manufacturing enterprises to outside firms (vendors, consultants, integrators). One of the effects of this is to turn industry societies into venues where competitors network with each other, and smother the occasional end-user with predatory attention. Based on the idiocy of that situation, we also have to recognize that many small supplier-side firms would be correct in concluding that ISA offers little to them in terms of marketing/sales leverage (and that's really all they care about, now that they're on the outside of the customer looking in!). And many small firms, as we know, underinvest in training and certification... However, I would argue that much of the educational and standards-based work is of value in its current state even to the small firm. I believe that with proper promotion, these programs can be successful indefinitely. Expositions/Symposia and the like tend to be of lesser value, as they generally devolve into "preach to the choir" sessions. So getting out of the "bums in seats" activities probably makes sense, as these can be delivered via a little thing called the Web. There remain significant challenges in remaining relevant as more than a tactical training resource. The largest that I see is in adapting ISA's mission to coincide with the goals and aspirations of Engineering and IT execs who have little in the way of internal Engineering and IT staff! This harkens back to the age-old question of deciding how to be seen as valuable by people who may have nothing in common with ISA's traditional members and their work. Alliances with MESA and ARC make sense, in this regard - ISA may be able to position itself as the "owner" of the body of knowledge around the automation foundations that allow the MES and ERP stack to work the way they should (which plays neatly into S95 and related efforts). I bring these issues up because I firmly believe that resolving them is key to long term viability. I think that if ISA were to take a traditional ISA approach to the booming markets, it could make enough money and gain enough members to ignore the real issues for another 10 years. Best then, that we look at the root causes of membership decline in mature markets, because sooner or later, every market will be mature! -- Sean Sincerely, JMP ENGINEERING INC. Sean Robinson MES Business Development Manager