How are leading show organisers like Messe Muenchen innovating? How are they adapting to an increasingly digital world? To figure out the same, we spoke to Barbara Mueller, exhibition group director, Messe Muenchen GmbH and Bhupinder Singh, CEO, Messe Muenchen India during electronica India and productronica India. While the entire discussion has been captured in a video (link), key extracts of the same are shared below…
Q: What are the fundamental principles behind the success of electronica as a brand?
BM: For us as a brand, the main principle is to be innovative, to have thought leadership, to analyse what is the development in the market, to figure out trends for reflecting them in the shows and to address our customers to meet their needs in the right way.
Q: When you say innovation, are you referring to innovation by exhibitors or innovation by exhibitors ?
BM: It’s both. Because innovators exhibit their innovation at the show and they reflect what is happening in the market. Plus, as an organiser, we need to influence exhibitors to showcase their innovations. Hence, we need to develop innovative concepts.
Q: How do you customise your show to suit local demands in countries like India or China? What’s your primary strategy?
BM: One of the key strengths, which has allowed us to customise our solutions is not purely a copy & paste approach. We exercise a lot of freedom to understand the market and the primary focus towards exhibitor or visitor.
BS: For me, visitor is becoming more and more important. Our focus is sharply towards the visitors, understanding their needs and expectations and respecting their ROTI (Return On Time Invested). They pay us in the form of time as currency. We cannot overlook it. The perspective which the organisers currently have, needs to change. It is important to understand the visitor psyche – how their patience is dropping, how their attention span is dropping. That’s where the innovation stand of exhibitors comes in. So I know how a visitor thinks when he enters a trade show. We have to understand that.
Technology is now working hand-in-hand. We are at a very starting point and there is still a long way to go. But data analytics tell you how visitors are going to behave when they enter an exhibition hall – where do they stop the most and why do they do that. And then educating the exhibitors on the electronics industry comes into play. All this science comes from understanding your visitors. Currently, our strong focus is towards – analysing and entering that domain.
Q: What kind of new technologies are being used to understand visitors’ behaviour?
BM: We avoid invasive technologies like beacon etc, because they have their own set of complexities. We also comply with GDPR (EU’s data privacy law) which requires us to capture and handle data very sensitively. But, we do keep trying new ways. We work with start-ups very closely to drive innovations.
But, overall—we have a very basic tech-infrastructure which helps us to understand a broader view of how a visitor experiences our trade shows. The deeper you go, the better aware you are towards their psyche. And this has an immediate impact on the exhibitor and helps him to strategize which segment should be placed where and why.
Q: How do you handle the challenge of global brand adapting to local markets without compromising on their values?
BM: There is danger if we do not have regulated freedom. First basis of this cooperation is trust. When you know that the brand is in safe hands, the design guidelines and the brand guidelines will be respected. You need a certain level of confidence in your local counterpart. If you have that in place, then there is a constant communication between global and local teams. So, we follow certain guidelines to make sure that it is not depending on something or the other and everything works well.
When you come to the field, the essence is in the trust which will be delivered with the brand also . In Munich, people come to the trade show with a certain expectation. Same is with China or India.
To ensure delivery of that trust , you have to do certain things that are right. These things take time to be communicated, for people to generate trust. So far we have been successful to communicate and deliver effectively.
Q: How do you see technology affecting operations of the show? Any examples you can share?
BM: We are seeing a lot of improvements in areas like the registration system, use of heat maps for tracking visitor flow, tracking leads of key customers, etc . IT has made a significant impact on all aspects of organising trade shows.
Q: How is technology influencing marketing of events?
BM: For us, digital marketing offers lot more possibilities than before. The strategy of the show depends upon which industry you are addressing. With regards to marketing, printed magazines are still very much read.
So, online marketing or digital marketing gives a lot more possibilities to track what people did, which websites they visited and in what they showed interest in. For us, it is a first step to understanding what the industry needs, how they think and what kind of information sources they consider to be informed.
BS: Despite having the aspiration of completely digitalisation of our marketing, I believe the scenario in India is a bit different from Germany. Here, we have five conferences on IoT and ten different electronics shows. In order to deliver the best experience while staying on top of the game in India, we have to depend on a combination of both–online and offline mediums.
Q: In India, a lot of technology is developed, especially on the software side. Is there any area in which India is exceeding Munich in terms of technology deployment?
BS: Nowhere in the world (electronica) is the buyer-seller done, be it Germany or China. They would like to do it , but currently India is doing it.
To ensure these meetings are successful, our team ascertains that there are pre-defined objectives for these meetings. You might see buyer-seller in other trade shows too, but the way that we are doing it, not just in electronica India but as a whole, is by deploying IT (specialised software) which facilitates these meetings.
Q: So now India has started taking leadership in terms of technology adoption?
BS: India has to! If you develop an app in Germany, it will cost you 50,000 Euros. In India, you can do it for 5,000 Euros. This is a huge advantage that an India office has, and we must capitalise on it.
Q: How do you see electronica India as a brand globally as well as in India in the next five years? What’s your vision?
BM: Our vision is to stay as innovative as we are and to reflect the actual trends of the industry and be more precise in where the products are used in order to be more application oriented.
Q: Any technology or application that you expect to be a key driver in the next 5 years?
BM: The main trends that I believe will shape demand for electronics include Industrial IoT, Automotive, 5G and AI.
Q: And what would be your vision in the next 5 years for electronica India and productronica India in India?
BM: Our focus would be to stay as close to the customers as possible, to hear them, understand what they want and deliver them.
BS: My expectation is that in the next 5 years, we become even closely connected with the industry, both exhibitors and visitors and deliver to the government’s aspirations and address all their objectives.