Steven Brown, editor in chief
I recently attended a trade show focusing on customer service and spoke with the sales director of a company that provides various communications solutions to the utility industry-things like high-volume call handling, outage reporting and field communications.
We were discussing what other upcoming trade shows this company had on its calendar, and the sales director mentioned DistribuTECH, which, I should mention in the interest of full disclosure, is run by the same company that publishes the magazine you’re currently reading.
I told the sales director her company would have a good audience at DistribuTECH and predicted the show would be worth her while. She told me she was looking forward to attending and said it was her understanding that DistribuTECH was “the power distribution show” to attend.
I was happy to hear that we have such a good reputation in the industry, but it also made me realize that DistribuTECH has a slight image problem. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being known as the power distribution show; it’s actually quite a compliment. But, the fact is, DistribuTECH is more than that.
The show definitely has its roots in power distribution, having evolved from the old DA/DSM Conference & Exhibition back in the early 1990s. In the mid-90s, when conference organizers wanted to make it clear that the conference was about more than DA (distribution automation) and DSM (demand-side management), the name was changed to DistribuTECH, a name meant to convey that the show encompassed the entirety of distribution technology.
Now, here we are on the eve of DistribuTECH’s 16th meeting, and once again, we’re faced with a marketing challenge. In DistribuTECH, we have a strong brand, but we also have a conference and exhibition that is quickly growing out of its name. We’re not just a power distribution show anymore. For the last three years, we’ve been expanding the conference content to encompass transmission system technology, T&D equipment and hardware, and automation solutions geared toward the water utility industry. Two conference tracks at the upcoming 2006 show are entirely dedicated to metering and automation technologies employed by water utilities, while two other tracks focus partially on water technologies. Another conference track focuses on transmission system-specific technologies, such as HVDC, wide-area monitoring, FACTS and synchrophasors. Still another track focuses on maintenance issues and the nuts and bolts of T&D equipment.
Some companies have caught on to DistribuTECH’s expanded focus, and attendance and exhibition space have grown as a result. But, to many in the industry, we’re still just a power distribution show. It’s a perception problem with no easy, quick fix. We could consider another name change to better reflect the expanded content, similar to the DA/DSM-to-DistribuTECH name change, but that strategy poses its own problems. DistribuTECH has become a very strong brand; we’re inclined to stick with it for now.
Rather than a name change, we’ll continue a marketing and educational effort designed to let people know there’s more to DistribuTECH than just the distribution part. If you haven’t been to the conference in a while, or have never been, I would encourage you to give it a look at www.distributech.com and consider attending the show in the future. If you’re at all involved in power transmission or distribution, or the water utilities, I think you’ll find a lot to like.<<