DSE / DSF Gang Up Against The DSA

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Is Exponation / DSE with the formation of newly announced (independent) trade association Digital Signage Federation really riding to to the industry rescue as they describe late on Wednesday or is this a knee jerk reaction and an attempt to protect their own business interests in the trade show arena?

No doubt events as they unfolded during the last 24 hours have caused quite a stir and a lot of soul searching, bitterness and anger.

One interested party who did not want to be named told us “DSA will be in full scramble mode, as I am sure their response to all the discussion so far has been (at best) dawdling”

We have had our own fair share of run-ins with the Digital Signage Association (DSA) and there has certainly been no love lost with us to them in the past – I think it is even fair to say that DSA execs (apart from their President) have actually showed us little professional courtesy whatsoever.

If we compare our relationship with the DSA to say that of OVAB or OVAB Europe it is like chalk and cheese.

The DSA have not won many friends in the ‘influencer’ / online web portal / blogging world either – not only their arrogance of course – their shared parent NetWorld Alliance did a very poor job of putting up any chinese walls or making any real distinction between the DSA and Digital Signage Today.

In fact we don’t have enough fingers and thumbs to count the times we have seen awful conflicts of interest go about (between them) as if it were normal business practice.

Having said that, it is true that without NetWorld Alliance the DSA would never have got off the ground – much like Neo Media Group’s initial financial support of OVAB Europe – you often need a sugar daddy to get you going.

Please note – do remember this when you see the online portals and blogs support one side or the other. NetWorld Alliance really blew any loyalty with these guys a year or so ago and many may feel they should support the DSF out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

However the DSA was about to change. In a proposal put to the board and due to be voted on next week in Las Vegas (it sort of made sense to wait for a good face to face opportunity, i.e. at DSE) it is fully expected that the DSA will agree to divorce itself from NetWorld Alliance.

This vote was pretty much common knowledge, and many prominent industry leaders and commentators publicly called for such a proposal. In fact only a few weeks ago on February 5th, Ken Goldberg wrote ‘Time For Industry To Find Its Voice‘ and put forth good arguments why the DSA needed to move forward quickly.

We’d say that the DSA hadn’t in the past moved quickly enough – our experience with NetWorld Alliance demonstrated to us why this was the case. If it wasn’t for the likes of Stuart Armstrong (DSA President and EnQii President) and Lou Giacalone (President and founder CoolSign) (and to be fair a few others) they may not have even got as far as debating a change at all.

The DSA deserves a good beating, it has been slow, self-serving, cumbersome, arrogant but with a few good men on board it has also been trying to change and most likely (in fact most definitely now) will vote to change itself next week.

Any (made) changes will take time and we wouldn’t expect the DSA to be the formal non-profit, recently divorced business we’d all like to see before August or September this year.

So what does the industry want? Does it actually want a brand new industry association or would it like to change the one it has?

For all its faults the DSA has a membership of over 420 (agreed that some of them are a little bit flakey), a board, some structure and a bit of money behind it. More importantly they have some really smart people (I’m thinking Stuart and Lou and Bob Michaels from Magenta Research here) who seem passionate about change and have done a hell of a lot over the past 6 months to try and make that happen.

Exponation have been clever in the way they handled all of this. I said at the beginning of this post that the DSF announcement could have been a knee-jerk reaction but actually, as several other people have mentioned on their blogs, DSE’s actions with regard recent PR and marketing (and thanks to Geri Wolff they are very good at this) around the announcement makes it look a little like they may have been planning this for sometime.

See Ken Goldberg’s post ‘The Genie Leaves the Bottle, Now the Fun Begins‘ here

Leave a Reply