ITCN 2008? Anyone?

And so we’re at that time of the year again when the ITCN opens its gates to delegations, IT and Telecom professionals and sadly, the public, to keep up the hype created about Pakistan as the hottest outsourcing destination in Asia. The 3-day expo and conference, while manages to create the greatest hype we’ve seen, I’m wondering whether the quality-quantity angle needs to be kept into perspective.

More than 100 stalls, thousands in foot traffic, delegates from almost all the continents, speakers from various organizations and representation from every walk of life, the ITCN has helped to keep on course with its mission. Loud, blaring music, aimless brochure collection and people scrambling to enter the halls to pick the freebie keychain or empty plastic bag, if there was any networking taking place, it must have been difficult to have a productive discussion.

There are several questions that must be asked: is this the hype we really want? Is the public mature enough to appreciate what companies have to offer? More importantly, are companies mature and confident enough to sell their products and services without sickly models and loud music?

For the past two years, Warid has had a basketball hoop as part of their stall and you should see the line of young boys that line up to shoot the hoop, just so they can be registered for a lucky draw that gives away a blackberry. Is it Warid’s fault for trying to appeal to the mentality of the public? LG had strange looking women walking a catwalk modeling their phones. As cheap as it may have looked to some, they attracted the largest crowd, and created the loudest ruckus in all three halls combined! The AGN stall at the very back of Hall 3 had a couple of laptops out which offered some unique configuration, but when I went to try and ask them questions, they couldn’t hear me over the music they had on, so I left.

I almost feel sorry for the companies in the PSEB pavilion who were trying to engage in discussion with potential clients and the only time you could actually hear people was when an electricity fault happened… but then the PCs would go off and that would be the end of that.

I thought I’d find some technical assistance at some company stalls but was disappointed. The Juniper stall in Hall 1 was large, but the two gentlemen there kept saying that they were just sales guys and had no technical expertise. When asked why they were standing there, they shrugged and went back to avoiding my questions and telling me how ‘juniper is the best!”… I could go on about things like when the announcer kept on about how this was a B2B expo and I could see teenagers running around..

I realize that the expo wants to promote technology into the mainstream, traditional media, but perhaps if blogging stations had been arranged for and bloggers were actively invited, perhaps more of an online hype could be created – I ran a cursory search for ITCN or Technology Expo in Pakistan, and came up with offline articles. And I always wonder why NewMedia isn’t taken more seriously than it is given recognition for.

Not the first, not the 2nd, certainly not the 3rd, 4th or 5th, but the 8th (yes! The EIGHTH!!), Ladies and Gentlemen, the 8th Largest IT and Telecom expo opens its gates to welcome people to witness the immense hype created by the companies participating in the 3-hall expo. While I think the organizers were trying to just say that this was the 8th year of the tremendous expo, I think the message got lost in translation somewhere.

But you have to give credit where it is due: no other company in Pakistan has supported the IT and Telecom sector as much as the ITCN. They pull in the crowd and they pull in the exhibitors. What we generate from the expo is really upto us. If you get a chance to, stop into the ITCN and see for yourself.

10 Comments so far

  1. Kashif Aziz (kashaziz) on August 13th, 2008 @ 12:57 am

    "no other company in Pakistan has supported the IT and Telecom sector as much as the ITCN. "

    ITCN is not a company but an exhibition. I am attending it since its inception but after first few years, the exhibition left only a taste of regret afterwards. When it started it had companies like CressSoft, eTech Group and other top notch (of that time) software houses exhibiting but now the focus is shifted to hardware sales, media and fun. It seems more of a dating spot than a place where IT companies can attract potential customers.

    And, E-Commerce Gateway is not doing this for the love of IT. They are charging exorbitant participation fees.


  2. Teeth Maestro (kar_teeth) on August 13th, 2008 @ 1:51 am

    Great summary – I wanted to attend the event but got caught up in work – thank you for the summary


  3. ameerhamza on August 13th, 2008 @ 9:23 am

    Great detail. I agree with Garib that the stalls there have people who can best be described as crap. Most of them really tell us that they are non-technical and that they are sales people. I have never understood how one can sell technical things and expertise by being non-tech., and what prompts people to hire such easy going non techies?

    And off course, E-Commerce Gateway, the firm which organizes this and other events has failed to deliver in terms of logistics and proper handling of the incoming crowd. I am always afraid of their lack lustre attitude in terms of security issues as well. Hope this time, when we are told Taliban is happening to Karachi, a proper security arrangement – and not just the show off Rangers – is in place.


  4. asifbiz on August 13th, 2008 @ 11:31 am

    e-Commerce?

    People we have lost the IT Boat & Train by the whole 9 yards.
    There is on way on this God’s Earth that a Pakistani can sell online.

    Unless he or she jumps through hoops and pays through the nose.

    Rest of the industry is funded by expat population, very little or example Entrepreneur orginating from Pakistan funded by from sources within Pakistan and sold from Pakistan.

    We are all American based, UK Based, Offshoot of UAE office.

    The policy so far does not empower the people average citizen to sell Technology(i am not talking about sexy black boxes and computers here), perform E-Commerce(sell a product from Pakistan and accept payment in Pakistan)

    Cheers!


  5. Kashif Aziz (kashaziz) on August 13th, 2008 @ 1:54 pm

    @ameerhamza: Are Taliban also involved with 70+ vehicles, hundreds of mobile phones and millions of rupees snatched, robbed, looted everyday?

    By the way, isn’t NetExpress a sponsor of the event? saw couple of stalls in the show (or do they have extra dough to have those empty-looking stalls in place)?


  6. farzal on August 13th, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

    please be sure to stop by the fireworks stall (in the same hall as PTCL). And like a friend said, its not adobe fireworks.


  7. mkshah on August 13th, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

    I fully agree with the author. I have just been there once and now don’t feel like going due to so much crowd and noise. Probably many people take it as a fun place to go and spend some time away from daily routine but point is, are they the target audience of the show? If a survey of the participants is done the results will prove that a very small percentage of the targetted people are visiting the ITCN.


  8. Adnan Siddiqi (adnansiddiqi) on August 13th, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

    wOW look at this, what kind of IT is being exhibiting here? and see our tharki awam!


  9. mkshah on August 14th, 2008 @ 10:26 am

    The picture uploaded by Adnan Siddiqi says it all.


  10. sajjad on August 15th, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

    Adnan, this is true for such events everywhere. People are drawn to glitz and glamor and marketing campaigns that appeal to the masses. The place would be quite empty if it was nothing but a bunch of geeks (like me) talking about their achievements.

    Whatever the case, I was satisfied with the magnitude and style of the event. It was comparable to international events and at least I got to meet some interesting people who I otherwise wouldn’t have. Good to see that it has become an annual event.

    Now, it definitely could use more work. The big sponsors need to come up with more creative ways to attract people than just basketball hoops and hot models.



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