Veterans advise planning to maximise CeBIT payoff

Exhibiting at CeBIT can give companies a huge push forward but it also takes a lot of work, says local software developer

As New Zealand Trade and Enterprise plans the next New Zealand pavilion at CeBIT, the world’s biggest ICT fair, veteran exhibitors are advising newcomers to make the most of the opportunity.

Mobile phone software developer SimWorks and NextWindow, developer of optical touch screens, are two local companies that have been part of the New Zealand pavilion at CeBIT.

Exhibiting at CeBIT can give companies a huge push forward but it also takes a lot of work, says Aaron Davidson, CEO of Auckland-based SimWorks.

Companies wanting to attend CeBIT should keep in mind that it might not be the perfect show for just them. “Because you are going as part of the New Zealand pavilion, you are not going to be in the perfect hall either,” he says.

But it is still a good show, and without the help from NZTE, many companies would never be able to get there, he says.

“You have to make the best of it,” he says. “And there is a lot to be made of it. The show is a launching pad for a dozen countries and massive markets. You’ve also got huge on-stand assistance in terms of native German language speakers, dedicated PR people, meeting facilities and networking events that you can invite people to, to blow their socks off and impress them.”

Being in Germany also gives companies the opportunity to pop over to other European countries to see customers or partners, says Davidson.

There is a lot of preparation to be done before going off to CeBIT, he says, for example sorting out branding and marketing material, doing PR, contacting the right people and setting up business meetings beforehand. For a small company this can be burdensome, but NZTE helps make all the planning and preparation reasonably straight-forward, he says.

“You get out of it what you put in,” he says.

SimWorks has attended the fair twice. The first year was very successful, because Davidson and his team had “pre-committed” a long way ahead of the trip and had made all the necessary preparations. This year was not as successful, simply because the company was too committed to projects it already had.

“We didn’t have the resources to capitalise on some of the opportunities that came out of CeBIT [this year],” he says.

He recommends making sure your company has the capacity to take on any new business that might generate from the show. SimWorks is not going back next year.

Another advantage of participating in the New Zealand pavilion is the networking opportunities with the other Kiwi companies, says Davidson. They are all interesting and innovative companies and very valuable contacts to have, he says.

CeBIT is is not just for big players. The New Zealand pavilion has an incredible range of companies, in terms of size and maturity, says Davidson. This year, for example, publicly listed GPS chipset manufacturer Rakon was one of the exhibitors, alongside smaller players like Davidson’s company.

SimWorks started in 2001. Davidson has four staff, all developers.

NextWindow has exhibited at CeBIT for three years now. The company uses the fair to generate sales, develop new partnerships with manufactures, integrators and distributors, and to meet with as many European partners as possible in one place, says chief executive Al Monro.

The first year at CeBIT was the best year, says Monro, because the company signed up some new and very effective partners, including a key partner in the Korean education market. But the company has had value out of CeBIT every year, he says.

“We have not always made new sales, but we have always added new channels.”

NextWindow is definitely going next year, he says. The New Zealand pavilion has always tried to punch above its weight by presenting eye-catching and innovative technology, and NextWindow’s touch-screens have underpinned the Kiwi pavilion in the past, he says.

Australian newspaper reports from the this year’s CeBIT said that the Kiwi pavilion “out-blinged” the Australian one by far.

“The Australians struggle from not having the coordinated input that NZTE provides for New Zealand companies,” says Monro. “The Australians try to position themselves near us, because they know that we draw more people.”

NextWindow’s optical imaging technology uses imaging senses to “see” where the finger or pointer touches the screen. It is not pressure sensitive, it’s more like a positioning system, says Monro.

Over 95% of sales are to overseas markets, says Monro. Smaller units are manufactured in Thailand and larger ones in the Auckland research and development centre. Of the 30 staff, about half are engineers and developers.

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Tags cebitNextWindowtouch screennew zealand trade and enterprisesimworks

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