Eurosemi editor-in-chief David Ridsdale shares his views on the Semicon Europa trade exhibition held in Munich last month.
Munich was a mixed bag of weather this April and perfectly defined this years Semicon Europa. The annual European event for the semiconductor industry was once again held in Munich. There have been rumblings for a few years now from SEMI members that the show is declining, as there is evidence of a decrease in numbers of exhibitors and visitors. The SEMI Europe office has made inroads in addressing these issues by changing the nature of the show. This years show suggested more effort in trying new things but is still at a bit of a crossroads for the future.
The first day of the show did not bode well with an obvious lack of visitors in the halls. One exhibitor in Hall A1 said it felt like a mausoleum when he arrived Tuesday afternoon and most of the visitors he saw were only other exhibitors. Luckily Wednesday improved with a steady stream of interested visitors filling the halls. Of course, the trade show is only part of the Europa experience, with a number of standards and technical committees taking place in side areas around the hall. These events are well attended but are not in a visible part of the trade show, making the people on the floor believe the situation is worse than it actually is.
The European SEMI group has looked at many options for future change including partnering with other exhibitions. A positive example of this was the inclusion of the photovoltaic conference at Semicon Europa. This event added another 400 individuals to the overall show and provided a positive platform for the semiconductor industry to learn more about this emerging technology. The industry is changing rapidly and SEMI finds itself in the position of having to change to meet the needs of the members it serves. This will not happen immediately and a case of trial and error will occur until the right balance is met.
There were rumours of combining with another large conference (see Bulletin 579) but this could be a disaster with the Semicon event disappearing under the weight of a larger show.
Semicon Europa has other problems from the SEMI group itself. In trying to find facts about the show I went to the SEMI website under the section, ‘What SEMI wants you to know on the home page. Europa was already conspicuous by its absence. Using the SEMI search engine did not enable me to find the Europa home page but led to specific unhelpful sections. It seems SEMI does not want anyone to know about the show after the event. Luckily the European office was able to provide some guidance. The initial figures suggest a slight decrease in verified visitors and an overall drop in exhibition numbers. SEMI has fallen into a situation where it needs to meet its members needs but relies too heavily on income from the show events to support the organisation. This is a quandary that SEMI needs to address to better serve its international membership.
There were no big announcements at the show but that is more due to the changing industry. A VP of a major company told me that they could no longer announce new products or ideas at a show, as their customers would demand to know why they were unaware. Nowadays, companies have to involve their customers at the very beginning and anyone they want to present a new idea to already knows.
Despite the apparent reduction in attendance, companies need to understand that there is an increase in the quality of attendees. Instead of the expense of sending a large contingent, manufacturers tend to send decision makers to meet with companies and check out what is new from up and coming companies. It was interesting to note that the busiest company stands all told a similar story. They had arranged meetings with clients before the event and had no time to meet with the casual observer. A good clue for those companies who felt they did not have many visitors.
Like the rest of the industry, trade shows have to become smarter as the nature of the industry changes. This cannot occur unless the SEMI members begin to communicate with SEMI and work together to create platforms that serve the members needs in improving business in a global community as well as ensuring an environment to present new ideas to industry challenges.