This Soapbox is published anonymously for someone who wished to express some observations and feedback for the conference organisers and the TSA membership without compromising his company. Please note Telecare Aware’s Anonymity Policy (Soapbox Section right sidebar).
Given the economic climate, TSA will undoubtedly report excellent results for its 2011 conference. And with so many corporate sponsors, it will certainly have been a great financial success. But careful analysis of the attendees listed reveals a concerning trend with a large proportion being either presenters, organisers, or exhibitors. My count approached almost half of the list of 600+ published names. Core delegates, especially traditional TSA members were hard to spot. That’s not surprising with Local Authority budgets under such strain, although one council did fund seven staff – no financial pressure there then!
But beyond the price point (with travel etc., about £1000 for the full three day bash) the agenda lacked relevance to the core membership. By design or by default was less than clear. In times of austerity one wonders how TSA justified the expense, presumably totalling around £20,000, for celebs Roy Lilley, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nick Hewer? A back to basics – at an affordable price – may have been more realistic, sympathetic, and far more attractive to core members running demanding services in these hard pressed times. Something more redolent of those excellent ASAP events – even if they were a little flip chart and OHP in their production.
On the TSA exhibition stand there was a glossy postcard bizarrely asking “What does TSA mean to you?” and “TSA stands for ………” . Try as I may to repopulate the three letter acronym, I failed. However, I did conclude that TSA is in danger of losing touch, losing relevance and losing members – evidenced by the event itself. With classic TSA clarity, the card also promised “a prize for the best suggestion”. Would that be one year’s free membership; second prize…? In the bar, one wag offered TSA as Trevor Single Associates…
Critically, TSA’s traditional support – 64% in fact – is firmly grounded in its 225 monitoring centre members and yet there was little on the conference agenda to attract them, even if they had budget to attend. Ministers, Mandarins and Media types mean little to the core membership – probably even less to the international contingent that the organisers seemed so keen to woo. But finally, after years of anticipation, escalation of monitoring centre consolidation has begun in earnest. The drivers of government mantra of shared back office alongside slashed local authority budgets have finally created real motivation for substantial change. Of late, hardly a week goes by without yet another tender for outsourcing this component of the R2R model.
So was the 2011 conference a subtle signal that new TSA is wanting to stretch the clear blue water from the old? No wonder London Telecare thrives.