Are you experiencing show overload, too?

Monday, December 1, 2003

Editor, Security Systems News

I’ve had approximately a month and a half to digest this fall’s whirlwind tour of security shows as I write this editorial, but despite a fair amount of time elapsing, my sentiments, and I imagine those of many others in the security industry, have yet to change.

This industry is overwhelmed with security shows and events. Systems integrators and dealers have too many events from which to choose. In the United States alone there are likely a dozen, or more, shows with a national scope all vying for our attention. And that doesn’t mention the countless regional events, seminars and training events or international venues.

Don’t get me wrong – I support our industry’s efforts to bring people together to conduct business and educate one another. In fact, I think it’s an important part of business. I’ve always said there’s nothing quite like having the chance to meet someone face-to-face to establish and build a working relationship.

It’s also important to note that this flood of security events is a healthy sign. In the last two years our industry has attracted more attention than ever before, and that attention is not about to go away anytime soon.

While some may argue that new shows are being created to find new ways to dig into our not-so-deep pockets, my opinion differs. I believe that many of these events are working to fill a void and to reach evolving audiences - the government market, homeland security and the public venue sector, for example. Manufacturers want to increasingly reach these vertical markets, while systems integrators are vying for ways to become their security service provider.

But something has to give here, and I’m not talking about us dropping from exhaustion. Perhaps it’s time for some of these events to consider co-locating. One group has already taken that initiative, with the National Systems Contractors Association teaming up with PSA Security Network, a buying cooperative of system integrators, bringing their events together come March of 2004.

Despite that initiative, it has made little of a dent in the travel schedule for 2004. If your calendar of potential travel for 2004 looks anything like ours, I imagine that you’re scratching your head wondering how your company is going to do it all.

And while the NSCA and PSA have combined events, it’s still only a week away from the ISC West Show in Las Vegas at the end of March. Some of you in the security industry may also be looking at back-to-back travel in April, May, June and July. That’s just in the United States alone.

There’s the Central Station Alarm Association mid-year meeting in April, followed by the National Fire Protection Association show in May and then a new show in June called the Security & Systems Solutions Expo, for example. And, let’s not forget about Americas’ Security Expo in July.

I apologize if I’ve left any other important events out, but this editorial is limited in size and I’m sure you understand that not every seminar and conference can be listed. I worry that I’ll run out of room if I list each one.

What’s the industry to do about this seminar, show, conference overload that plagues us? Manufacturers, systems integrators and dealers have been grumbling about our industry’s plethora of trade shows for years. But it’s time to come together here to find a solution.

Unless people begin stepping up to the plate to find creative ways to bring multiple events together, in time it will sort itself out. We’ll soon see the cream of the crop – the best shows and events – rise to the top, while others will simply fade away.

Let’s not be a victim of our own success.