Local firms enjoy CeBIT

Plenty of leads for vendors to pursue

New Zealand companies report positive results from a visit to the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover, Germany, coordinated by NZ Trade and Enterprise. Fifteen companies attended the vast event, in search of new territory and branded collectively by the slogan “New Zealand — new thinking”.

CeBIT “was a great benchmarking exercise,” says Aftermail head Rod Drury. “It let us see what our competitors were doing and how they approach the market, and we got 30 or 40 leads for possible resellers and distributors.” This, for him, was the emphasis of the show, which did not cater so much to the end customer, he says.

Aftermail, which deals in email post-processing, already has some customers in Europe through an office in the UK, but CeBIT “made us a lot more aware of language issues”, Drury says, both in the product itself — for example the search engine, which needs to cope with other languages — as well as the need for multilingual marketing material. The company made valuable contacts to help it in that endeavour.

“We’re planning another trip in about a month to pick up on those leads,” he says.

EMS-Cortex chief Paul van Tol has a different perspective: his company was definitely looking for customer sales for its service provision platform, aimed chiefly at ISPs. EMS-Cortex has recently rejigged its product as more of a package offering, and more useful to the middle tier of the market, van Tol says.

“It has been a toolkit which needed professional services to create a solution for large providers, like British Telecom, But if we’d wanted to duplicate our success with BT, we’d have had to set up our own presence in every country where we had a customer. So we reorganised the product so that we could sell and support it from here, to a larger market.

“The whole idea of going to CeBIT was to say to prospects ‘Here is the [new] product; it’s ready now'.”

EMS was encouraged to go to the show by NZTE’s involvement and by van Tol’s previous experience in selling to the German market. “Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia seem to be ahead of other European markets in their attitude to outsourcing services."

EMS-Cortex gained six or seven prospects, he says, but these will take about six months to convert into sales. “From here, we need to work with the product managers and technicians.”

He also made some contacts on the distributor side, “but you need at least two or three sales in a country before you can approach people seriously to distribute your product there.”

Navman’s expectation of making contacts with prospective customers and partners at CeBIT was fulfilled, says Jamie Macdonald, vice president of wireless data for the company. There were no definite signups at the show, but plenty of leads to further discussions, he says.

“Outside this kind of event you probably wouldn’t easily get to meet the chief of the fire department of a large Scandinavian city, as I did,” with a clear opportunity for sales of Navman’s fleet tracking products.

The company exhibited its new integrated mapping and messaging system, due for formal launch later this year. “You can right-click a location on the [colour-display] map, tell it to “route” to that location, then send that information to your vehicle. The driver gets turn-by-turn voice instructions to guide the vehicle there.”

Macdonald also met senior executives of a leading German mobile telco, he says. “Normally you’d spend ages setting up a meeting like that and it would probably be very short, but everyone’s at CeBIT and they get to see you in a Navman context, rather than just at their office.”

Navman’s consumer division demonstrated its SportTool, a GPS-based performance measurement device, recording speed, distance, times and so forth for sporting endeavours.

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