Here’s a quick thought – many of the winners of the local PASHA ICT Awards are then invited to participate in the regional APICTA awards. While certainly no "CES for Asia" , it is a mid-sized conference that helps to bring together IT companies from all over Asia. You get to network with people in a similar or complementary space from you, which could lead to partnerships that help you penetrate those countries. It also gives you the chance to line up client meetings in whatever country you’re visiting.
We were fortunate enough to go to Singapore last year to participate, and my thoughts are that the conference is beneficial primarily if you’re looking to find clients or business relationships in the Asian region, and that too for "IT" business.
The last bit is perhaps the most important… most participant companies are strictly "IT" related… i.e. related to infrastructure support / mis type software to help businesses manage inventory or other back-office automation stuff. But notably, general software or tech companies, building online products such as productivity systems, video processing software or anything outside of "IT" is largely missing… with a few exceptions in PixSense’s involvement last year.
For example, I also got the chance to participate in the 5th Innovation Journalism conference in Stanford earlier this year. One of the presenters there showed us absolutely mindblowing community-based new-media things happening in Malaysia and Indonesia and in the region that underscored a vibrant and thriving innovation-driven industry, yet APICTA participants would paint a very different, "safer" picture about the activities and events.
This year, the PASHA ICT Awards added a number of categories to specifically highlight smaller firms and startups in the industry and to celebrate innovation, but with that I cant help but wonder whether or not APICTA is the right place for such firms. Hit the link for the real reason for this.
You see, just when APICTA and the ICT Awards are happening on one side of the world, Le Web takes place on the other side of the world in Paris… the deadlines for submission into the Le Web startup competition is in the same neighborhood, although the event is usually in the first week of December.
While APICTA is a good place to network with other similar companies from Asia, consider the fact that nearly all A-list bloggers and tech journalists from the US and UK are present at Le Web, including web-celebrities like Robert Scoble. Consider the fact that Le Web stands as a platform to highlight only the most promising innovations from around the world, and ask only the best thought leaders in the industry to make compelling presentations about the future of the software / media / tech / innovation industries. Consider the thousands of visitors who attend to watch startups pitch in front of dozens of VCs and millions of internet viewers. Consider the startup competition judges.
Add this up and we could conclude this the focus on highlighting the PK tech industry depends really on what each company wants to do. Companies that are just providing shrink-wrapped solutions of off-the-shelf products, or safe, in-demand services may use APICTA as a chance to network and hunt for more clients. Some of them may use any recognition or awards from APICTA as another trophy to show to employees or shareholders, but the participation is never really a strategic part of the company.
But smaller companies from whom the recognition of innovation is a strategic part of their branding or marketing strategy, should be going to conferences where innovation and the future of software really is center-stage.
So strictly in terms of ‘What is the best place to HIGHLIGHT pk TECH firms’ (emphasis mine ofcourse), I wonder if we should actually be focusing on sending troops to Le Web instead of APICTA. I guess it boils down to what we aim at achieving when we say we’re going to highlight a firm.
As a concluding thought – imagine how things could change only with a determined focus that the industry needs to go to Le Web and Le Web alone to "highlight" local companies. Innovation, merit and thought leadership would become the standards that drive local awards and recognition; Perhaps… just maybe… our companies could participate with the confidence that we’re no different or no less deserving or no less in smarts than the best of the world.
In the words of Adnan from Lootmaar, wouldn’t that be remarkable?