ICA Comes Away the Winner in Dallas Showdown.

You can’t do anything small in Texas, so the International Communications Association kept up the tradition by making its 38th annual conference the largest ever–in all ways, including the number of members, guests and exhibitors. With 2,000 communications managers from ICA companies and some 6500 guests and about 6500 exhibit personnel, the total attendance of around 15,000 was half again as large as last year’s conference and exposition in Las Vegas. Attendees included 30 members from the International Telecommunications Group (INTUG) and the heads of the many regional telecommunications associations.

The increased attendance was obvious on the floor of the Dallas Convention Center, where good traffic flowed from the 8:30 am Tuesday opening right through to the end on Thursday at noon. ICA’s blocking out the entire Tuesday afternoon for exhibit viewing also helped members see more of the huge exhibit area, filled with some 1500 booth spaces occupied by more than 300 manufacturers and suppliers. That’s an 11-percent increase over last year, notes trade-show coordinator Richard Greene of Trade Associates, and there were about 125 companies exhibiting for the first time at an ICA exposition. Nearly 50 companies used the exposition to unveil new products and services (see CN’s roundup starting on page 86 of this 43-page report).

From the Monday-morning opening session at Loew’s Anatole Hotel, it was obvious that ICA’s 38th would be a class act. Conference Chairman Duane Heidel (Marriott) and his Program Committee Co-Chairman Chet Bellairs (American Broadcasting) and their staff did a super job lining up more than 50 sessions that included much of the top talent in the inudstry.
In his ICA president’s address, Jim Sobczak (Bank of America) noted that this year’s exposition was three times as large as the one only five years ago. Drawing on a theme borrowed from President John Kennedy, Sobczak asked, “What can ICA do for you?,” and proceeded to outline the association’s role and goals, as well as the changing role of the communications manager. Summing up the role today in one word–“complexity”–he went on to explain three key programs of the ICA: regulatory/public policy, enhancing the role of the communications manager and education. (See page 54 for Sobczak’s remarks.)

Keynoter Kenneth Oshman, president and one of the four founders of Rolm in 1969, explored the proliferation of digital technology, and the move toward integrated services digital networks, integration and high-speed data. Seeing the role of the communications manager as “the most-challenging job of all,” Oshman said that the past 10 years have shown that the job has had a profound effect on the way the world communicates, adding that their role is of “critical strategic importance in the decade ahead.” He observed that the communications manager can determine whether his or her company is “an also-ran or a competitive market foce.” (See story, page 56.)

At the first featured presentation, noted author Alvin Toffler (Future Shock, The Third Wave and his latest, The Adaptive Corporation) talked about social change and the impact of telecommunications. His partner and wife, Heide, joined him at the end of the presentation to field questions from the audience (see story, page 58).

Throughout this ICA conference report section are highlights from many of the presentations, including the new role of the telecommunications manager (page 60), the impact of information-age trends on the user (page 62), new offerings from the IRCs (page 66), a regulatory update (page 67), ISDNs (page 68), intelligent buildings (page 71), network management software (page 72), software-defined networks (pages 78) and telemarketing (page 82).

As the sun sank in West Texas each evening, there was much more in store for the ICA members. Following a Paradyne reception on Sunday evening, RCA Globcom kicked off the busy week with a sit-down dinner for 1600, then followed with entertainment by comedian Pat Cooper and songs by Robert (TV’s Benson) Guillaume. On Monday evening, American Satellite turned the Anatole into a Las Vegas casino, with entertainment by Lou Rawls. Racal-Milgo offered a funny parody on the role of the communications manager on Tuesday evening. Then on Wednesday evening, Lane Telecommunications offered some down-home eats and entertainment with T. G. Sheppard. Northern Telecom helped cap the full week with a Thursday evening reception that was followed by ICA’s Fellowship Dinner.

The ICA’s 39th annual conference and exposition moves to Atlanta early in May.

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