The ASIS International 63rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits, held between September 25th-28th in Dallas, will see several changes in 2017. The ASIS Board of Directors has directed ASIS staff members to look for new ways that the yearly show can provide more value, while continuing a 63-year tradition and demonstrated ability to serve the market. Under the general leadership of the Board, ASIS staff members have evaluated feedback from members, exhibitors and attendees to guide them as they seek to reinvigorate the show.

Fun replaces tradition at ASIS 2017

Fun will replace tradition on the eve of the show in 2017. In lieu of the customary welcome reception, the opening of ASIS 2017 this year will be a Texas-style party at the legendary Gilley’s bar and honky-tonk on Sunday, September 24th, including colourful features such as armadillo races and a mechanical bull-riding event to raise money for the ASIS Foundation.

Ending the show on Wednesday will be another party, the President’s Reception, which will be held at the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Attendees can participate in games and drills on the field, tour the locker rooms and meet the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. Between the two parties, plenty of serious networking and informative programming will take place.

New ASIS schedule 2017

Another change will be the timing of the 2017 ASIS exhibition, which will be on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (rather than beginning on Monday). The new schedule will allow smaller exhibitors to come in on Monday to set up and not have to work over the weekend (or pay more expensive weekend labour rates). Also, the first full day of education seminars on Monday will not compete for attention with the exhibition.

Some education events will extend over into the exhibition with Q&A sessions held at two theatres on the show floor

Education sessions will offer a broader array of topics and a variety of formats. There will be some 20-minute sessions, as well as more formal extended learning, and also product demonstrations and even virtual reality. Some education events will extend over into the exhibition with Q&A sessions held at two theatres on the show floor. ASIS will have a large presence in the back corner of the exhibition hall in what promises to be a hub of activity.

The exhibition will also open later each day – at a more civilised 10 am rather than 9 am. The daily General Sessions, which feature high-profile and well-known speakers, will end just as the exhibition opens, and will be held in a large hall adjacent to the exhibition floor. As the popular events conclude each day, a flood of attendees will be directed to enter the exhibition hall, thanks to a removable wall between the meeting hall and the exhibition floor.

Official ASIS partners

On the trade show floor on Tuesday afternoon, ASIS will sponsor a Happy Hour event, open to everybody during the last hour, and intended to encourage attendees and exhibitors to engage with one another as they celebrate the opening of the show. Timed at the end of the day, the Happy Hour will “flow into” the numerous corporate-sponsored events in the evening.

An official ASIS partner for the show is the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), whose co-located cybersecurity programming is especially timely for attendees. The other official partner is InfraGard, a non-profit organisation and public-private partnership between US businesses and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They were instrumental in snagging James Comey, director of the FBI (and current newsmaker), as a programme speaker.

An initiative being launched this year will also invite additional supporting organisations to be a part of the event, in addition to the “official partners.” The strategy reflects the desire of ASIS to be more inclusive, reaching out to related organisations to have a bigger role at the show. Supporting organisations will also promote the show and help ASIS grow attendance.

“There’s a lot of buzz around the changes we are making,” says Amy Fisher, ASIS International’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “Folks are seeing a lot that’s new and exciting.”

Education and networking opportunities

Along with the changes, ASIS International will continue its commitment to excellence in providing education and networking opportunities for attendees. The revenue ASIS earns from the show is reinvested in the association’s programmes, says Peter O’Neil, CEO of ASIS International. “Every dollar they spend is being directly reinvested in the profession and the community. We are here to serve security professionals and help them secure their communities. The organisation has a wealth of expertise and experience, and the annual meeting is our time to shine and show what we have to offer. We set the bar high for ourselves, and we will continue to try new things and develop new programmes.”  O’Neil adds that ASIS exhibitors “are our partners, and we want them to feel they are valued.”

The organisation has a wealth of expertise and experience, and the annual meeting is our time to shine and show what we have to offer”

O’Neil acknowledges the delicate balance required to address both the needs of exhibitors and those of show attendees and ASIS members. “It’s a good healthy tension, and usually it’s managed quite well,” he says.

Understanding the needs of delegates and exhibitors – and what they have in common – is an important goal, he adds. “We will continue to innovate around this, to help delegates understand that the trade show floor is an education opportunity, too. Some exhibitors offer education in their booths – it may be about their product, we understand that. We have an obligation to make sure delegates understand the value of the knowledge on that show floor. We need to tell that story better and better in terms of what’s down there and why they need to be down there.”

O’Neil adds: “How can we help each stakeholder understand where their interests overlap, where there are differences? We have to serve both.”

ISC West and ASIS

The success of the spring ISC West show in the last couple of years has tended to overshadow the less frantic ASIS event in the fall, but the industry needs both, says O’Neil. “There are a lot of people who want to compare and contrast the two shows,” he says. “But if each of us becomes like the other there is no differentiator. Reed Exhibitions [which operates ISC West] is a for-profit company with very deep pockets, so they give us a good run for the money, but the flip side is, we believe we bring a different market – end users – to the floor. We have something unique as an association and a nonprofit, and that’s the notion of community. We compete in different ways, and they can’t compete in terms of community. Our members and attendees are deeply vested in the profession and have a strong sense of community and shared purpose. That’s our strength. The people who support us and ISC West see us as a place to call home.”  

He concludes: “Have we upset our family members? Have we dropped the ball in terms of show reinvestment? Yes. But you will see a renewed commitment to excellence so we can make money to reinvest in the profession.”