Nepcon Shanghai - show diary - day two
by Philip Stoten
Apr 25, 2007
A proud and successful industry becoming more and more sophisticated
Visiting China regularly for the last five years has been the closest I will come to watching an industrial revolution take place. The industry has, in that short time, moved on leaps and bounds in its ability to compete, to develop and to trade.
Nepcon Shanghai is a microcosm of this phenomenon with exhibiting companies and individuals developing at great speed. One US exhibitor told me of a friend he had visited each time he came to China. It seemed that every six monthly visit was greeted with the news of another promotion for the Chinese individual. And this visit was no exception. This is not so unusual. Many are excited and proud of what is happening in China and it seems this pride is more than justified.
As the labour market here in the electronics sector develops, there are more and more indigenous workers gaining promotion, taking responsibility and succeeding, and this is a joy to see. Their enthusiasm for their work is energising and a stark contrast to what is happening elsewhere. The market is full of optimism and full of ambition for the future, and this optimism and ambition are displayed in the way they do their jobs every day. Working hard and personal development is the norm here.
So, the kind of jobs the Chinese do has changed, there is now no ceiling to what can be achieved, and the largest of the multinational companies are now promoting the Chinese to the highest posts and giving them the autonomy to run their own local activity.
But this has not happened overnight, and time is one thing that is clearly an investment you have to make in China. I spoke to one exhibitor, who has been active in China for some years. They told me that China had been a long hard slog for them and they were still waiting for it to pay off. Another begged the question as to whether those companies selling well in China were making any money? A good question - and I suspect the answer is that some are and some aren't.
New market opportunity
One topic that came up both yesterday and today was the alternative energy sector - fuel cells and solar energy. This sector seems to have grabbed the attention of some vendors as a potential opportunity and one that is active here in Asia. The Chinese government is particularly keen on these alternative energies, which is understandable when you consider the rapidly growing energy needs, both of consumers and of industry. Add to this the environmental pressure and it is clear this industry has legs.
Too many shows
It would not be a trade fair without one or two grumbling about the number of trade shows currently in the calendar, but this year there seems to be growing number of people questioning the amount of time and budget invested in exhibiting around the world.
Many were frustrated when they found out that this show clashed with SMT in Nuremburg and similar frustration exists around the two shows occurring in Chicago later this year, particularly with the addition of a new Florida show. Trade shows are clearly an important part of any marketing plan, but not the be all and end all. I suspect, however, it is not the Asian shows that will lose out as a result of this frustration. I also suspect that the major trade shows in Europe will not suffer. After all, Productronica is only once every two years. More likely to suffer are the US shows. Some fall out from the Chicago shows as people take a year or so to decide which one to support and a likely reduction in the budget focused on APEX are likely outcomes.
Today, especially, this was relevant as marketing folks discussed APEX's move to Vegas in 2008. I guess time will tell if this is to be a more successful venue than this year's choice.
Clearly, there is no better place to meet so many people in just a few days, but perhaps the huge booths and the one-upmanship of recent years do not add so much value to the overall experience.