Friday, June 24, 2011

Frugality in Exhibitions

Many were huge and luxurious. Over the years, I've been to numerous shows and I always observed some extravagant booths erected for the pleasure of the visitors. At the ISC West Security Trade Show in Las Vegas in 2007 for example, before the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, exhibitors competed to show who could play it bigger, regardless the risks of the impending storm. My opinion has always been this - It was a huge waste for just a three-day show.

Some giant companies, mainly through mergers and acquisitions, went a great length to entertain their invited guests and some really turned their booths into a mini casino, or into a lounge to serve beers and snacks. They were putting up a show, convincing everybody that they were still in good shape, and business was still burgeoning. But was this represent the true picture of the situation?

Extravagant booth
A few hundred thousand dollars good money was poured into the gutter just like that. These companies certainly would not agree with my opinion and may simply rebuke it as my defense mechanism.

But the truth of the matter is, many of the companies that were putting up extravagant booths were no Microsoft, Apple, Oracle or Google. Most of them debt-ridden, have poor profitability, some even have red ink in their books. Throwing a big party, inviting their clients to Vegas for networking purposes? When there could be other economical means to achieve the same objective. Some argues that it has always been the business culture to establish 'close-tie' relationships with their clients in the project-based business. But I think for a good sense of a corporation is the ability to stand firm, and have the responsibility to right the wrong. Was it necessary to commit 'sin' in the Sin City?

There is a simple psychological logic for organizers to entice exhibitors into having a larger commitment. Are you sure you want to look modest when your competitor is setting up a huge booth with grandeur design just next to you? Many were not willing to admit 'defeat' and ended up with bigger booths, taller renovations, prettier and sexier models walking around the booth.

For me, I'm okay with having humble exhibition booths, mostly we book 9 square meters, or sometimes 18. There are some of our partners that took larger space than us for their exhibitions.

All we needed to complete our shell scheme booth included a gorgeous backdrop, a few appealing posters or buntings, some FingerTec readers with display stands, a laptop computer, some gifts, product catalogues and two stand managers to take care of visitors. Simplicity. This is what FingerTec strives for. You may call it frugal; I prefer to call it the "Zen" concept.

FingerTec's exhibition booth

I encourage our staff to stay longer to tour and explore the country for a few more days on leisure at the company's expenditure. What a waste to rush back for such a good opportunity to travel overseas! Traveling light makes them easy to move around especially after the show, with brochures all gone and sample units all sold. It is my belief that one has to admire and understand the culture of a country and be able to absorb the findings to improve the products and systems to better be accepted by the local people. That's one of my goals for having my people take part in overseas exhibitions, besides gaining the global market exposure for some technology trends.

It's a common belief that a smaller booth would help sending away the prospects to your opponents; simply because the booth is not visible enough and it doesn't project enough confidence. I can't dismiss this statement all together as totally nonsense. But you can't judge a book by its cover, and furthermore, unless more values are added, nobody can deny that the overall impact can be expected from an exhibition is declining.

When information can be obtained easily and instantly from a website, through Internet anytime and anywhere; surely exhibition is losing its ground. But even though in the Information Age, you would see how little some businesses spend in Internet, but willing to churn out big buck for some less effective expositions.

I don't have an exact figure for the number of customers we yielded from exhibitions, but no doubt it would be much lesser than our Internet marketing efforts. And nowadays, nobody will just hear the bragging in the exhibition and signed up some contracts without thoroughly checking your background in the Internet. But in reverse, a good website alone can deliver sales. We sold our products to 120 countries, only participated exhibitions in less than 20 countries. The virtual power now is much stronger than the brick and mortar.

We have two exhibitions in this month-end. SME Solutions Expo 2011 in Kuala Lumpur and SecuTech in Bangkok, Thailand. “Since FingerTec is making money, debt free and cash rich, why don’t you book a bigger booth?” Please, don’t ask this question again.

We welcome you to come meet us, talk to us, feel our products. Never mind our booth's size, we are whole-heartedly present to serve you, our esteemed clients.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dealing with Trivial Details

Yes, we all know the importance of details when it comes to term with efficiency. Yes, we split all matters into two main categories. The topmost important versus the least important, and the topmost urgent versus the least urgent. And they crisscross to 4 permutations in total: important and urgent, important but least urgent, urgent but least important, and least important plus least urgent. When asked to list according to its priority, anyone with common sense will give you the sequence as above with the second and third place interchangeable.

big vs trivia
But when ones follow the sequence in practice, they always end up not so efficient. Why? In fact the reality doesn't backfire, but there is some underlying truths that escape our eyes. Sometime you might have to reverse the sequence to achieve efficiency. You may ask why do you have to bother with the unimportant and the least urgent when you have more pressing matters in hand?

A lot of people tend to ignore the thread that sews the permutations, which is, the required time to complete one task. The logical fact is, if a lowest in priority ranking's job just takes 10 minutes, to compare with a top priority that needed 10 days, why not squeeze a negligible ten minutes to tackle it first?

time to complete one task

We all know that when a person follows the priority ranking to finish the highly important task, the insignificance that required only 10 minutes would completely be forgotten after 10 days. Not many customers will make a fuss or lodge a complaint over a trivia, let alone to pursue the matter any further. Of course your boss would not notice or would hold you responsible for not responding to the matter, or sometime even some bosses will agree with you that these are some kind of "distractions" that should be brushed off!

But when we think it in reverse, if a company or a person is taking trivial matters seriously, how would they handle issues that require more attention?

In fact, the irony for a company to emerge as a great company is not because it has plenty of great ideas or great plans in its pipeline, but normally it is due to how good it deals with details than the rivals. The tinier the details of daily operations a company taken care of, the more successful it will become. The same goes to a successful product, two smartphones might look similar, the superiority of one over the other could only be experienced when you own one. And the words spreads.

When a product is serious about its tiny details, besides the cores, it discerns itself and it creates better value. For example, to create a real good user experience and greater user interface for iPad, Apple undergone tens of thousands of discussions. Does it worth that amount of exhaustions? A total of 10-million iPads sold in 2010 sent out a thunderous answer!

How to distinguish FingerTec and other biometrics products? Our resellers and customers have always been impressed by how we dealt with details in everything, be it hardware terminals or software products, user manuals, logistics, support systems, customers feedbacks, or even just a piece of brochure, the customers would see the continuous improvement in details of everything.

This month, we took a step forward to improve the quality of our corrugated carton by redesigning it to endure rougher condition. With about 80% export sales and more FingerTec products travel farther away either by sea or by air around the globe, we have to take extra care in transportations. And as a part of our Going Green effort, we are about to release the Apps for iPhone and iPad version for user manuals with the enhancement of chaptering and user warranty registration. And we have more plans to make FingerTec a great product and a great brand by attending to all the details.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ