ASIS 2011 tradeshow musings from the outside looking in

Former ISC West show director Ed Nichols muses on what a tradeshow means for the industry


Walking in to this year's ASIS International was a new experience for me. For years I have been attending the ASIS International event as a competitor, having been with Reed Exhibitions as the Vice President of ISC West and ISC Solutions (formerly ISC East).

Despite being a new experience, what never ceases to amaze me in security, as compared to other markets, is the rate of change and improvement in technology, contrasted with the long tail of adoption. It's not reluctance to adoption mind you, but simply the slow pace of change by the soft component of the equation -- the people -- relative to the rapid technology changes. Aren't we all waiting for the convergence of physical and IT security responsibilities, particularly as a result of the advent of IP technology? Weren't we all anticipating that change 5 years ago?

From a show manager perspective, I can tell you that events are constantly judged based on the numbers of attendees our events deliver and what the 'good old days' were like. How many people remember when ISC East was the security industry's biggest, international, event? Now that I am no longer one of the big dogs in the ISC/ASIS debate and I don't have to defend numbers, I ask how realistic that comparison is? The recession, the costs of travel and the jobless rate in the United States are out there for everyone to see, so there is merit in what show management says when they claim the quality of attendee is up. It can't help but be. If you are not essential to the buying or specifying process you're not going anymore, period. If you are relevant to the process you will be there because you need to be -- end of story. If numbers are down here this year, and I don't know that they are, it certainly doesn't seem to have affected quality.

This year's ASIS hasn't lacked for new products or familiar faces representing the major manufacturers and integrators in the security marketplace.

My day started with checking in with Axis to see what's new. The Arecont Vision booth had a steady flow of traffic and business seems to continue to be good. Some would argue that ASIS International has become the Stanley show with the location and production they put on. Niscayah, recently acquired in part by Stanley, still continues to increase their presence and prominence at the show. Pelco has effectively changed its event branding to Schneider Electric and seemed to 'own' the ancillary hall that was used to house all of this year's exhibits. Protection1, neighbor to our Cygnus Security Media booth, had a steady stream of people watching a 'rock artist,' however, thankfully agreeing to postpone one of their presentations long enough to allow our own Steve Lasky to present this year's Security Technology Executive Innovation Awards. Stopping by to see HID's Denis Hebert, it was nice to not have to defend the audience at ISC Solutions (East) anymore!

Jay Hauhn of ADT, incoming Board Chairman at the Security Industry Association (SIA), told me that business couldn't be better. He and Gordon Hope, current SIA Board Chairman and President of Alarmnet of Honeywell, are two great friends for whom I owe a great debt of gratitude from my years of working with them. Bill Bozeman and Tim Brooks with PSA Network reminded me that not all is perfect, as some of the small-to-mid-sized integrator owners of PSA are fearful of a double dip in this recession and its implications. Bill continues to push managed services and developing financing models to create RMR for integrators. PSA is lucky to have him and his tireless efforts on their behalf.

And that was just Tuesday afternoon. So from my very new perspective I think this year's 57th annual ASIS International was a success. Congratulations to Michael Stack, Susan Melnicove and the entire ASIS International staff on a great event.