Whether ISA?

ISA – One member’s vision!

On the eve of the annual get together of Automation professionals that is ISAExpo in Houston (TX US) the International Society of Automation (ISA) one of the members, Jon DiPietro of the Boston ISA Section has published a public document, “ISA – One member’s vision,” that even if it does nothing else will provoke much debate not to mention controversy.

I know let's try Meatball Sundaes!

I know let's try Meatball Sundaes!

It is no secret that ISA, like many volunteer organisations has been faced with the full onslaught of the current economic tsunami which we call the credit crunch. As people cut-back, “rationlise”, downsize, divest, whatever the word used the impact is the same, people have stopped spending money on things they rightly or wrongly perceive as luzury expenses. Advertising is one of the first to go. It is common knowledge that the print media is severely effected by tis type of thinking. Newspapers are struggling to stay open. Advertising revenue is falling catastrophically. Drops like 30%, 50% and more are reported and on top of that the younger generations are inclined no longer to use newspapers as a source of news. They don’t read like the oldies.

ISA is no exception to the rule and must be suffering severely because of the financial events of 2008 and 2009. During next week we will learn no doubt more of this impact and of the remedies that a prudent organisation like ISA must make.

The future is, we are told, in the realm of electronic communications, or more specifically in the now ubiquitous internet and broadband world. Events like the recent election in Iran, the demise of Michael Jackson or the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, all were commented upon and known by the afficianados of twitter or facebook or the like almost as soon as they happened.

This week I, sitting here at my desk in the West of Ireland have been following events at the Emerson Global Users Exchange. This is something I could not have done six months ago. Last week it was an Invensys EventAchieving sustainable performance where I followed events on twitter. A week earlier I followed live as they happened talks and discussions at the ISA Sales & Marketing Forum in Boston. All of these events would have made little impact this side of the Atlantic (or indeed on anyone who was not a participant) in the past.

Jon DiPietro’s “One Member’s Vision” is exactly what it says. It is his vision of what ISA could become. Harnessing the incredible resources, many of them at little or no cost, to increase its impact on Automation. To further its own vision “To work in partnership with members, customers, and subject matter experts to disseminate the highest quality, unbiased automation information worldwide.”

His ideas he says are revolutionary, even heretical, but he is certainly thinking outside the box. He appears to have been influenced by our old friend Jim Pinto, in some articles he wrote in the ISA journal InTech. “Sell Scarcity, Give Away Abundance!” He has expanded on this theme cogently and no doubt will cause some heated debate.

This writer has been a member of ISA for over thirty years. He has seen it’s pioneering work on the internet in the early nineties. He has seen the Society wax and wane during that time and he hopes and expects that this “waning” time will pass and provide a society stronger so that in deed as well as in word it will “become the standard for automation globally by certifying industry professionals; providing education and training; publishing books and technical articles; hosting conferences and exhibitions for automation professionals; and developing standards for industry.”

I commend this thoughtful contribution to all members of ISA and indeed all interested automation professionals who care for our discipline throughout the world.

3 Responses to Whether ISA?

  1. […] to the show we had seen some indications of a desire for change which we noted in our contribution Whether ISA? at the end of September. The ISA is apparently going through its own crisis and word was filtering […]

  2. Douglas Rothenberg says:

    The problems at ISA are crucial and largely unrecognized. What I see are brave attempts to do what ISA has done in the past that appeared to work, and do it better now. What is actually needed is to discover what ISA really needs to do to become relevant for the 21st Century. No technical society, including ISA, really understands what it is that is needed by the public (technicals and the like). And probably the public does not either. I ask the leadership and membership of ISA to begin the formidable but required task of discovery and reinvention. Without it ISA is on a certain course for irrelevance.

  3. […] discussed this a few months ago in a blog entitled “Whether ISA!” While things have progressed since then including many painful changes have occurred. […]

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