Slowdown And IT Expos

DQC News Bureau
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2008 has not been a good year across the globe and banking, finance and IT

sectors took the maximum beating in the entire round. With enterprises

tightening their belts and counting their pennies, cost cutting has become the

order of the day.


One of the auxiliary busi­nesses to have borne the brunt of this financial

crisis fallout are the various expositions that were held in the country. So

far, these expos would elicit good response from sponsors, exhibitors and

visitors. But in view of the slowdown, suddenly the interest in expos and trade

fairs is also beginning to die down.

Unenthusiastic response

Most channel expositions were events that were held under the aegis of the

various associations spread throughout the country. Typically most of the local

associations would plan to have their expos from November onwards. One reason

for this was that traditionally the OND quarter was considered to be the most

sluggish one in the industry. Therefore, expos offered channel partners an

additional conduit to increase their business.

But this time around, the response to expos has been fairly unenthusiastic.

Sales across India dipped by 24 percent (Q1-3, FY 2008) on an average. Needless

to say, companies are now holding on to their purse strings and do not want to

invest in any brand building exercises which do not give tangible returns or are

not in sync with their immediate business strategies.

All associations

in the country are feeling the heat of the recession and are downsizing what

earlier used to be the grandest event of the year for the local channel

Realizing this, two major IT associations in the East, Kolkata's Compass and

IT Association of Orissa (ITAO) have already postponed their expo dates as the

slowdown in the eastern market has become acute. Compass had initially decided

to move ahead with the expo. However, at the latest expo committee meeting, the

association decided to halt the same seeing the gravity of the situation. With

the expected footfall and vendor participation in the expo under stress, the

expo scheduled in December had to be called off.

Commenting on this issue, Pawan Jajodia, President, Compass said, “As

announced earlier, the event was scheduled to be held between December 18 to 21.

It has always been our primary objective to provide a platform for exhibitors to

showcase their latest offerings to the channel as well as the consumer. The

current global economic scenario is very grim and the general market sentiments

are not very positive. Hence, it is the need of the hour to call off the expo at

this stage.”


ITAO too rescheduled its expo dates due to these factors. At the start of

this fiscal year when it had planned the expo it had expected a huge footfall

and drawing a tleast 30 percent profit after the expo. Even as the realities of

slowdown hit home, Orissa was better off as this state is on a positive growth

track than its eastern counterparts. However, sponsors are quite sceptical about

the success of the event despite Orissa's good trade performance, which forced

the association to reconsider the expo dates.

Treading carefully

Looking around them and seeing how the market has not taken warmly to

various expos, associations are now rethinking on their strategies for their in

house events and how to make them successful. Ajay Singla, President, Panipat

Computer Dealers Association (PCDA) stated, “I have been a part of the IT

industry for so many years now but I have never witnessed a recession or slump

in business to this extent. As business is slow, it gives us ample time to

concentrate on association level activities. For the time being, we are

concentrating on solving issues between dealers, service related issues and

other activities that are required to improve the working conditions within

Panipat. We are also planning to hold an IT expo and will be conducting a

general body meeting to discuss the same. However, the above is in the planning

stage as our aim is to attract and educate as many customers as we can.”

The Bhopal association is also planning to hold its expo in January 2009.

Surprisingly this association is upbeat about the response it will get from the

market for this event and is expecting heavy footfall. Commenting on this, Asis

Jain, President, Bhopal IT Association stated, “Every year, the IT retail

segment undergoes a phase of recession starting from November. This year, it is

a bit acute. However, we have still not felt the brunt of recession and the

market is somewhat in a stage of normalcy. We are planning to go ahead with 150

stalls and expect a footfall of about one lakh visitors.”


Similarly, Ghaziabad IT Association (GITA) and Nagpur's IT association, The

Vidharbha Computer Manufacturers & Dealers Welfare Association (VCMDWA) are also

optimistic about their upcoming expo. Speaking on this, Arun Kakkar, President,

GITA said, “The vendors and the channel space are keen on conducting the expo.

It provides an excellent platform for the vendors to showcase their latest

products and boosts the channel space. The retail market is down in the OND

quarter every year, and 2008 is not an exception. We'll carry on the expo with

our own contribution and sponsor funds will go to GITA funds for future


Like every year, VCMDWA is going to hold its IT fair in early January and

will be hosting 81 stalls with 24 vendor pavilions. With 50 percent of total

bookings already completed, the dealers in Nagpur are expecting a lot of

business to flow in from March 2009. Admitting that the software market is hit

hard by the recession with sales in this arena falling at a record low, VCMDWA

is of the view that the hardware market will be left unaffected.

However, trying its luck in the sluggish market, Mumbai's Trade Association

of Information Technology (TAIT) has already felt the heat of the recession.

Complaining that participation dropped at its recent expo by 20 percent,

exhibitors claimed that there was inadequate publicity about the event. Only 90

exhibitors attended what was touted as the biggest IT expo in the West with

negligible participation from Chinese and Taiwanese vendors.


Mainly blaming the managerial part in the event, Sushil Gupta of Aztech Tele

System who had participated in the event complained, “I came to know that no

proper invitation was sent to corporate houses and big channel players. Also, no

measures were taken this time to increase end-user awareness.” Similar

sentiments were also echoed by vendor companies which had participated in the

event, but did not want to be quoted.

Cautious optimism

Targeting the SMB sector primarily in the South, Information Technology

Traders Association (ITTA), Puducherry  is coming out with its annual

computer expo, Compex 2009 in January. In the expo, this time, there will be

more vendor participation with the leading vendors showcasing their products

directly while ITTA getting a positive reply from the distributors in helping

the vendors to showcase the products.

Recently, Computers and Media Dealers Association (CMDA) held their annual

expo in Pune to a satisfactory response. Attended by over 1 lakh visitors, the

event hosted 121 stalls, including good vendor partici­pation, according to the

association officials.


Although CMDA did not feel the heat as TAIT did due to the recession, the

global slowdown seems to have got through CMDA also.

Speaking about the event, Shital Nahar, President, CMDA said, “This is our

11th year of the event. The recession, although affecting the metro markets

seems to have left the upcountry untouched. This year, as normal, we had our

normal schedule and had a good footfall. Also, we had nine technical seminars

targeted at the corporate clients.”

There is no way of deducing whether expos in C-class cities fared better than

because the number of likely footfalls expected in both these regions are

different. Even the quality of people who visit vary. But all associations in

the country are feeling the heat of the recession and are downsizing what

earlier used to be the grandest event of the year for the local channel.

Avishek Rakshit

(With inputs from Pooja Sharma and NR Sethuraman)