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New Orleans hot as industry cools

While the weather was extremely hot during the recent BICSI Fall Conference in New Orleans, the atmosphere inside the convention centre pointed to a definite cooling off period within the industry.App...

November 1, 2001  

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While the weather was extremely hot during the recent BICSI Fall Conference in New Orleans, the atmosphere inside the convention centre pointed to a definite cooling off period within the industry.

Approximately 1,700 attendees showed for the international telecom association’s annual event, held from August 20 to 23 at the Ernest N. Morial convention centre in New Orleans, Louisiana — a decent showing, considering the state of the economy. Yet this number was down from projections and also down from last year’s Fall Conference numbers (2,200 people attended the 2000 event in Nashville, Tennessee).

Many cited companies cutting back on travel as a reason for the lower attendance, while others thought the oppressive heat in Louisiana might have been a contributing factor. Regardless, for those who did attend the conference it was business as usual, with a variety of seminars to take in, and a lively show floor with several new products on display. (Please see sidebar, “Newsmakers in N’Awlins”, for more information).

Entitled “Extending Structured Cabling into New Territories”, the conference featured a variety of seminars that centred on this theme. When kicking off the conference activities, Masood Sharif, Program Manager and Industry Co-Sponsor, noted the appropriateness of this theme, saying the industry is now a US$6.8 billion market that has caught on around the world.

Watts Wacker furthered the idea of growth, and spoke of ways to plan for a changing world in his keynote address at the conference. “We live in a world today of supreme discontinuity,” said Wacker, a well-known “futurist”, political commentator and author. “What’s going on when a 100 pound bag of Idaho potatoes costs less than a supersize fries at McDonald’s?”

He said that amidst the current changes we are facing — or what he calls “the epoch of uncertainty” — businesses that want to prepare for the future have to understand “paradox”.

He offered six so-called “deviant acts” that cabling professionals can practice in their businesses that might make sense, given the current state of affairs. He says people should: look at core competency “sideways”; employ opposites analysis (look at the opposite view of things); use a beginner’s mind (or retackle the problem from a different perspective); put left- and right-brained people together to work on the same problems; practice disassemblage (i.e., take something apart to look at its parts and then reassemble it); and keep in mind that “serial futuring is serial deviance.”

In addition to Mr. Wacker’s keynote address, the conference featured a variety of other seminars and activities, including a technical seminar titled “Network Convergence and the Role of the Cabling System”, the exams for the RCDD and LAN Specialist designations, and BICSI design and installation courses. Former Olympic gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner were the conference’s closing speakers.

In addition, 142 exhibitors were on hand to showcase their wares during the exhibit portion of the event, including eight from north of the border — Accubid Systems, CableTalk, Cannon Technologies, DL Custom, Eastern Wire & Conduit, EXFO Inc., Nordx/CDT and Sanmina Enclosure Division. In fact, Canadians had a good showing at the Nashville event, with 66 attendees from across the country.

“The industry continues to downsize in many ways,” noted BICSI Secretary John Bakowski at the Region 5 (Canada) lunch meeting held during the conference. “We in Canada haven’t been as affected by it yet,” he added, noting that Canadian membership is growing at 11 to 12 per cent annually.

Due in part to strong support from Canadians at BICSI shows, the association has decided to hold a Canadian conference next year. The event will be held in Qubec City from September 16-19, 2001.

The 2002 Winter Conference will be held from January 21 to 24, 2002 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida.

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