ISA Automation Week

By Ted Dieck | Shows & Trips - Notes - ISA - Reviewed | Jun 11, 2010

Are high prices and limited registration ISA’s best solution to falling expo attendance?  Automation Week tests the theory from October 4 – 7, 2010.

Early rumors had the ISA Expo 2010 dead on arrival. Technically, that’s true.

And yet, you have to give the organizers credit. This long standing association is morphing faster than a lava lamp on a hot stove. 

When I attended a rather sleepy presentation a few years ago, it was purely in support of a client. I stayed because, well, I was already there. In hanging around, I met some of the board members, and I discovered that ISA had changed its name from whatever it was to the far more useful International Society of Automation.

Obviously, these folks were on a mission.

Lately, I’ve been seeing the ISA logo pop up in some unexpected places.  That, of course, is partly because I look in unexpected places.  Nevertheless, it seems the organization is soldiering on through the Great Recession and intends to make the best of things.


Just today, as I was reviewing my list of industry shows, I decided to check in on ISA and see if Expo 2010 was officially DOA.  Much to my surprise, the same city will be home to a similar event at the expected date.

Except now it’s called ISA Automation Week Technology and Solutions Event.  It’s a smaller show with a bigger name.

Predictably, the promoters are thrilled at the prospect of having an intimate expo.  Automation Week takes up less space, doubtless costs less, and saves the attendee the hassle of whatever it is that ISA is leaving out.


From here, it looks like ISA is trying to make some cash, and fast.  The small size and high prices guarantee the promoters will do alright.  How about everybody else?

Exhibitors – already sold out at 100 – have to bring in their stuff, set it up, and put on their happy faces during random time frames as short as half an hour.  They are reduced from center stage attractions to simple commercials between classes and seminars.

Attendees had best be employed and backed by companies ready to spend bucks (are there any of those around any more?)   It’s a snappy $695 – $845 just to get in.  (Sign up quick, and you get a T-shirt, coupons, and a discounted book.)

The emphasis, here is education.  I’m not totally clear that the same education couldn’t be delivered more economically elsewhere, but I don’t really know.  I just can’t imagine a company, in these times, loading up a bus to bring everybody in for this kind of event.

Also included for attendees is limited access to the reduced number of exhibits, along with networking among the select few who will attend.


ISA education may be worth the price, but in this rugged economy, I’m surprised to see any organization isolate itself so aggressively.   I’m sure the membership has had a tough enough time this last year.  Possibly they would like to enjoy a little more participation and access to their Society.  I have no idea what will attract any new members.

I know many of my friends are long time ISA members.  I would be pleased to hear your thoughts.  If I’m not understanding something quite right, feel free to set me straight.  Please.

ISA Board Members are always invited to present their perspective.  Contact me directly, if you’d care to.

Thanks, all.  I’m sure we’ll be following up on this one.

Ted Dieck