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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trade Shows and the Recession

Take a look around you. The industry is in the worst depression in history. After a dismal 2008, capital spending will be down 20-30% in 2009 and 2010 seems a lot a farther than 365 days away. Customers are consolidating and new fabs are not getting built. Top tier suppliers are dropping employees by the busload. Fab capacity is rising. Companies are going under; careers are being lost.

So, what you should do with your marketing and trade show budget? Cut it to the bone right? Save money, save people. Hunker down and live to fight to another day, right?

Not so fast.

Professor John Quelch of Harvard Business School says in an article, “How to Market in a Recession”:

“This is not the time to cut advertising. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times….”

The fact is the market doesn’t care about the macro business environment. Buyers are people just like you and me who make decisions and form opinions based on the same criteria they always use. During a recession, they may not have as much money to spend, but they are still forming judgments about you and your competitors. When they do buy, their judgments and opinions will be used to pick winners and losers. They will form these opinions based upon your sales pitch, your data sheets, your reputation, your product positioning, your pricing, and a lot of other things. They will form these opinions with or without trade shows. Some of the factors you can control and some you can’t.

During tough times, you can exclusively rely upon your great products and technologies and assume your customer will use the exact feature/benefit calculations as your product planning team. You can rely upon your sales people and assume they are better than your competitors. Who needs marketing? It’s a recession and we can’t afford it.

But smart business people know that products without marketing are commodities without margins. You better be the low cost producer or go home.

Marketing is the active process of differentiating your products in ways that are understandable and meaningful to your customers. Sales people alone can’t deliver differentiation. Technology alone can’t deliver differentiation and neither can company reputation. Smart companies that invest in product differentiation are also usually the ones who make sure they are telling their customers about the value of the diffentiation in creative, compelling and convincing ways. Usually this means more than a Powerpoint sale spitch and email price negotiation. That;s how you sell salt, not advanced technology.

So what’s the best way to deliver meaningful, margin-creating, share-building differentiation in this industry?

Don’t know. It depends on the product, the company and customer.

But I do know what happens to trade shows during a recession?

The weak competitors fall away. Good firms exhibit and pick up business.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I am writing from Day 2 of SEMICON Japan and it’s a beautiful day with Mt Fuji out my window. You would hardly notice there is world economic crisis going on.

While the industry slump is omnipresent, the aisles are packed and some encouraging news about the economic rebound has been heard in a few, isolated places. During the Market Symposium, both iSupply and Bill McClean of IC Insights were optimistic that the eventual rebound will start mid 2009. This outlook was shared by Masashi Marumachi, Corp SVP at Toshiba and Frank Huang, Chairman of Powerchip. McClean is especially optimistic on the second half recovery start, seeing low oil prices, coordinated global economic stimulus, low inventories, and historical precedents as solid indicators. This is considerably better outlook than some doomsayers who suggest the upturn won’t occur until 2010.

Some data on SEMICON Japan:
1476 exhibitors (1548 in 2008, a record year)
4450 booths (down from 4602 in 2008, again a record)

Several exhibitors have reduced expenses by limiting the number of tools exhibited and many exhibitors have reduced staff attendance (especially international exhibitors).

Still too early too predict visitor attendance. Probably down 10%. Web traffic is up 25%; maybe folks who aren’t here are vicariously attending through the Internet.

While the business climate has dampened the mood, innovation is on the move with many product announcements, especially TSV, mask making, flip chip, metrology.
SI featured a few.

As always, the Semiconductor Technology Symposium has diverse and outstanding content. All key segments of the industry are covered with full-day and half day programs. This is enabled by a great facility at Makuhari (deep content requires lots of rooms) and the great contributions from the active participation of many committees.

What I am most proud of in the programs is how they draw upon what you should know, what you need to know, and what you what you like to know but don’t have leading edge understanding of the most advanced scientific and engineering concepts in the world today.

What you should know is best illustrated by the outstanding keynotes on sustainability and the industry’s role in combating climate change.

What you need to know are the latest products and solutions that can be used to solve real production and design challenges in today’s fabs.

And what you would like to know is how the winners of the 15th annual STS Awards for outstanding technical presentations will affect your company and business.

This combination of industry advocacy, updates on the latest advances in equipment and material solutions, and advanced peer-reviewed technical papers is the mix we try to achieve to at every SEMICON. While most SEMICONs do not feature peer review technical papers, they do try to present the “what’s next” topics, developments and ideas that are just over the horizon. It’s this combination that make SEMICON so unique in the exposition world and so central to our industry.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

Please join me for a fun run on Thanksgiving Day at the annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, sponsored Applied Materials.

Start times for the 10K and 5K races are 9:00am. Proceeds go to local charities.

To make it easier to participate, I will reimburse you for registration fees (lust let me know ahead of time). In addition, if you can run the 10K faster than 50 minutes, I will donate $50 to your favorite charity.

For more information,
UPDATE 11/29/2008: Despite spending Wednesday touring wineries with my family in Napa Valley, I woke up early Thursday and ran a 48:36 in the 10K. It was obviously a very slow field, becuase this placed me 8th in my age group (0ver 100 runners) and about 220 out 2500 runners. I've run faster, but never placed this high in a big 10K. Like I said, weak field.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Launching a New Event Brand :SOLARCON

The growth and importance of PV manufacturing has driven the need for SEMI to create a new event brand: SOLARCON. Each of the SOLARCON events in Korea, China, and Singapore will be co-located with existing SEMICON events in the regions. Each of these events had a prominent PV exhibitor and attendee base and strong program this year, and exhibitors were near-universal in the support for continued growth in the PV area.

In co-locating with SEMICON, SOLARCON will leverage the existing visitor and show infrastructure, allowing exhibiting companies serving the photovoltaic and microelectronics markets to reach both communities without needing multiple exhibits in multiple events. The co-location strategy also continues SEMI's commitment to grow existing shows and partnerships while reducing the proliferation of new stand-alone events.
The thinking behind the branding was that PV is a distinct and separate community from semiconductors and it needed its own identity. While manufacturing leaders understand the synergy between PV and chip making—and do not want more events to dilute the audience--the PV industry is too diverse and large to feel entirely comfortable depending on a “semi-com”. While increasingly the PV industry is being populated with veterans from the chip industry, they also attract many young engineers who have no relationship SEMI and SEMICONs.

The name SOLARCON is an obvious “frankenword” combining solar with the CON from SEMICON. The result is a hoped-for brand extension that provides security and stature, with the necessary identification with solar industry. It seems like a simple and easy name, but we struggled with considering many alternatives and whether to focus on PV rather than solar.

The new name will allow us to better target and differentiate our exhibitor and attendee marketing and program development.

The new events and dates announced are:

SOLARCON Korea, January 20–22, 2009, COEX, Seoul, Korea
SOLARCON China, March 17–19, 2009, SNIEC, Shanghai, China
SOLARCON Singapore, May 20–22, 2009, Suntec Exhibiton Centre, Singapore

The SOLARCON events in Korea, China, and Singapore join other SEMI and PV Group-sponsored and supported PV events including PV Japan, Intersolar (Munich), and Intersolar North America, the latter co-located with SEMICON West in San Francisco.

We have just announced a new president and office and India, so you might see the announcement of SOLARCON India very shortly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Exhibitor feedback was surprisingly good at this year's Europa. Key customers were attendance and and Programs's attendance equalled last year. Despite the economic climate, most exhibitors said the show performed well for them. AMD's announcement and special supplier forum was a big success.

Great Europa slide show, here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

MEMS Ingenuity

I was at the International MEMS/MST Forum all day yesterday and the one fact that jumped out at me was that approximately 250 MEMS companies make less than $35 million dollars. This industry has a long tail.

MEMS is a technology that represents an enormous amount of creativity and manufacturing ingenuity. There is a spirit entreneurialism at work that reminds you of the early days of the PC and the era. People have ideas and dreams and skills and they believe they can make a difference. They believe they can be the first to see a need and work out the engineering and get on the cost curve and beat the big guys. The industry isn’t yet about scale, it’s about cleverness and taking on risk. While the market numbers are still dominated by the big LDP and printer apps from TI and HP, the MEMS business is still characterized by one-off devices where someone sees a better a way to marry a sensor with a microprocessor and do it better than companies with thousands of engineers and tons of capital.

The process of creating a device seems to be often one of basement creativity and engineering on-the-fly. First you have the application: integrating pressure, temperature, motion and other inputs with a control system for an automobile, a cell phone, a camera or one of the hundreds of other devices that interact with people and an analog world. Everyone who uses a cell phone or power tool or industrial device could probably think of ways to marry functions among parts or create new features or functionality. Then there is the real tough engineering of developing a faster-better-smaller-cheaper package with a dependability and robustness that can attract a big customer. Getting the first products to market seem to entail a whole lot of trial and error—devising new manufacturing methods and packaging techniques that need to be customized by the device, by the process and by the fab. Testing the part often requires that development of an entirely new testing protocol and specially designed equipment. You don’t do this stuff on computers and with formulas. You need to get your fingers dirty.

There will be a shakeout in the market and many of these small companies will be overwhelmed by economics, competition, fate, bad luck. And new processes, design tools, processing equipment and test systems will make the market more efficient, more standardized, more about scale and optimization. But while MEMS have been around for a while, it’s still a business characterized by dreamers and doers and hands-on engineering and that’s a good thing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Awards for SEMICONs

We are thrilled to see that SEMICON trade shows have been recognized as the leading global brand by the publishers of Trade Show Executive at the magazine's inaugural 'Gold 100' Awards ceremony.

This is a big deal.

As the first year for the show, they could have chosen the CES show, CeBit, auto shows in Detroit or Tokyo, etc. but they chose SEMICON. The reasons are because no other global event brand has been so successful over time, or in so many markets. Many trade shows have tried to extend into different markets—Nepcon comes to mind in our industry—but they’ve failed miserably. SEMICONs are unique in the world of expositions in that every serious person in the world of semiconductor equipment and materials is deeply familiar and loyal to their regional SEMICON.

Obviously, credit goes to Stan Myers and his predecessors at SEMI, and also to Dan Martin and Vicki Hadfield, who have managed the brand through the difficult post dot-com period. The folks who came before them and the anchor exhibitors who have developed and supported the brand are also fundamental to SEMICONs’ success.

Understanding this strong heritage, the current team at SEMI is doing our best to sustain the value of the brand and the SEMICON shows. We were recently awarded first place in Brand Design/Development (for large events) by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) in their annual Art of the Show Competition for the SEMICON and FPD brand identity system. The Art of the Show Competition recognizes excellence in promotional materials for the exhibitions and events industry. It includes 13 different categories of competition, spanning three show sizes.

While IAEE has many awards for marketing and design, we consider this award the premier recognition for marketing excellence because it encompasses all the elements of effective brand management--from creative execution of brochures, e-marketing, onsite decoration, and other design elements, to messaging and positioning of our value proposition. What is especially noteworthy in our brand system is the complex and collaborative execution across all SEMI expositions throughout the world, involving all our regional offices. It leverages world class design from a Best-of-Breed agency, while cost effectively implemented across thousands of projects through in-house creative staff, multiple vendors in show decoration and project design, and local teams in all our regional offices.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Crisis in Leadership

You may have heard that the solar energy investment tax credit (ITC) is being caught up in legislative and party politics and many observers think they are doomed until a new Congress convenes in 2008.

Some $500 million in investment and production tax credits will expire Dec. 31 without the renewed ITC. Without the credit, many renewable energy projects, including two solar power plants that will generate about 800 megawatts of power, won’t be built. In fact, Navigant Consulting estimated that investments in wind and solar power in 2009 would amount to $26.6 billion with the credits, but would crash to $7 billion without them.

According to an AP article, Schott Solar plans to add 1,500 jobs and $500 million in investment are in large part dependent on the ITC. The Solar Energy Industries Association says some 20 utility-scale solar power plants are at risk because of the uncertainty in Congress.

Both Democrats and Republicans say they are in favor of the credits. By themselves, they are not controversial. Like a lot of issues—especially in our industry—good policies get caught up in partisan politics and the legislative meat grinder. The US Congress is so dysfunctional, they would prefer to hold the ITC hostage rather than yield an election advantage to the other side. They are unable move forward on good policies, they are unable to compromise, unable to govern. It’s something we see at SEMI every year, with every administration, for the past twenty years.

This kind of unconscionable legislative inaction is, in my opinion, part of a large crisis in leadership in the US. Every institution that made America great has devolved into self-interested obscurity, unwilling and unable to play a leadership role in society. Look at Wall Street: eight years after the dot com crash we have the mortgage meltdown and liquidity crisis, both events underscored by near universal, institutionalized, greed-fueled larceny. The financial industry sucks the best and brightest from the best universities into what is essentially a ponzi scheme, where fraudulent value is created and passed down a chain. What role is Wall Street playing today in the big questions of the day: deficits, taxes, human capital, industrial policy? They have no collective role. There is no Wall Street. It’s just individual companies with a self interest.

What about the military? Iraq. Afghanistan. Good job there, guys. Now, stay out of politics.

Education? What university president has a prominent voice on the issues of the day? Do teachers unions care about students?

How about the professions? Is the medical establishment really concerned about health care? Are any textbook journalistic practices relevant in big business media?

I’m just old enough to think that 30 years ago there was a prominent leadership class in all these institutions that was civic minded, independent and courageous. That generation could balance that needs of stockholders, employees and society at large. Everyone knew there was a "greater good" that needed nurturing and managing.

Today, I sense there no such balancing going on. It’s all about what's in it for me, my career and my company. That might be good for some of us, some of the time--but it’s horrific for all us, all of the time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Europa Moves to Dresden in 2009

We are thrilled about Europa's move to Dresden next year. Qimonda, Infineon and AMD, nearly 60 percent of European IC output, is located nearby. In addition, about 80 percent of Germany’s PC cells are made within 150 km of Dresden and the region enjoys a concentration of research institutions, universities and over 1200 equipment and materials companies. We explored movong there last year when we moved to Stuttgart from Munich but they weren't ready. Now we've finally got the agreement .

University Peak

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Time Attendees

For the second year in a row, 27% of SEMICON West visitors were first time attendees. This is an important number for us at SEMI and we work hard to keep it high.

First timers are important because they represent new influences in the buying decisions of traditional SEMICON products and services, and new markets for SEMICON exhibitors. Buying influences in the semiconductor industry are constantly changing because of reorganizations, new engineering staff, and the increase in ‘ad hoc” or temporary buying teams that are assembled to equip a new line or address a specific issue. In its 30+ years, SEMICON has established itself as key milestone in the semiconductor buying cycle in North America and the world. Sustaining that role requires everyone in the buying and specifying process to learn how the event can help with new vendor sourcing, current vendor evaluations and new product investigations.

Another source of new buying influences are fabless companies, packaging and test houses, and system level OEM (HP, Apple, etc.) that increasingly have an impact on equipment and materials buying. This is particularly important with new packaging technologies such as copper wire bonding and TSV, as well as new materials, test, MEMs, inspection and other categories.

In addition to new buying and specifying influences within existing customers, first time attendees also consist of buyers from new and emerging markets. Clearly, PV was a big attraction at this year’s event, attracting thousands of buyer/specifiers from crystalline and thin film based PV cell manufacturers. Other new markets very prevalent at the West was solid state lighting, MEMs companies, fuel cell makers, and bio-chip makers (I’m guessing on that last one).

For SEMI, the challenge is to reach these first time attendees and get them to the show. These folks aren’t usually on our databases and often don’t appear in our extensive 3rd party lists. We have great partnerships and promotional awareness (advertising, email and editorial) through all the major industry magazines, but we spend a lot of time and effort on 3rd tier or fringe publications just to reach these first time attendees. Our awareness among core audiences is nearly 100%, but diminishes as we reach new titles (such as design engineer, software engineer), new markets such as SSL, and up the food chain to system level engineers in consumer electronics, automotive, health and other markets. We need to work and spend more to reach these new titles, job functions and markets and we do.

A critical component in finding and attracting these first time attendees is our exhibitors. They are the ones who are typically first aware of changes in personnel and in the best position to extend an invite. Its another reason why pre-show promotion by exhibitors is so important.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Inquiry Distribution at Trade Shows

Following SEMICON West, I am reminded of one the truths about trade show exhibiting that exhibitors don’t often realize. This truth is especially important in trade shows like SEMICONs-- where the square footage is large, the products are complex and specialized, and the customers are busy. The truth is:

The number of inquiries you generate has little to do with where you’re located on the show floor. Inquiries are primarily a result of your product category, your pre-show promotion, and the booth execution.

This isn’t a theory.

I was recently given a report that illustrated the number of inquiries generated by every booth of the SEMICON West inquiry system. The report showed that inquiries are randomly distributed across each hall. There is no correlation for inquiries from the back of the hall or the front of the hall. There is no correlation for inquiries for cross aisle and corner booths and inline locations. Inquiries are not correlated between islands, inlines and peninsula configurations.

It’s not even evident that inquiries are correlated with the size of booth!

The data from SEMICON West has shown for the past three years that inquiries are a result of good exhibit marketing. Inquiries are primarily correlated with:
• Conducting pre-show direct mail and email with exciting and compelling reasons to visit a booth (see a demo, learn more about new product, enter a sweepstakes)
• Companies that use SMARTBOOTH in combination with attractive directory descriptions that reach visitors with rational and thoughtful reasons to visit
• Companies that have hot new products or technologies (new, new, new is what visitors want)
• Booths that have open, inviting floor plans and/or demos
• Booth that with an exhibit staff that is trained and managed to capture inquiries

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gadi Singer SEMICON West Keynote Conclusion

Here is the conclusion to Gadi Singer's keynote. I think you find other segments of his speech on Youtube.

Brand Marketing in High Technology

I recently met a person who reminded me of many of the common errors and failed strategies I see in high technology marketing. Many of these failures revolve around the interpretation of the word “brand,” and how if managed properly managed, it can possess magical properties.

This person was a very experienced marketer who had just joined a SEMI member company from an ad agency. This person was very impressive--clearly competent and creative, perhaps even charismatic. But he/she had no experience in semiconductor manufacturing and I didn’t sense an affinity for the technology, industry and product issues that would most impact his/her company and career.

Being from an agency, this person knew how to promote and articulate the value of big, impactful and professional marketing communications. They seemed to be one of those agency-type people who can sell ideas--big ideas. They offer a seemingly new way to compete in the marketplace, based on ingenuity, cleverness, some call it marketing. These are the people who are able to get the ear of the CEO and suddenly get a massive budget for a huge campaign, such as TV advertising or massive trade show spend. You don’t see these kinds of folks in semiconductors anymore, but you see them all the time in computers and IT, and they were abundant during the dot com era.

Their arguments and experience--their frame of reference--usually revolves around the idea of brand. Concepts like brand positioning, brand awareness, and brand equity dominate their conversation. These are important and useful concepts but the people I am talking about are able to use these arguments to captivate a boardroom and justify significant new budget. They are often effective in utilizing solid research into customer insights and their campaigns are usually bold, beautiful and expensive.

These aren’t the people, however, who I see become CEOs or survive long at the VP of marketing level. In fact, when I see the step-function increase in marketing spend—the huge product launch or identity campaign-- I almost am certain that someone will lose their job in the 12-24 months.

I have seen it dozens of times. Hot shot joins company with cool marketing resume: maybe Apple or Proctor and Gamble background or from an agency who did wild stuff for someone like Sun, HP or Intel. They are hired because “they know marketing” and have been previously successful and have clear experience in managing a large budget or successful campaign. Together with an agency, they are able to successfully frame the company’s challenges into a brand issue—not product, or price, sales, or technology or even a promotion issues—but a brand issue requiring a new a massive campaign or new corporate identity.

Invariably what happens is the campaign or new identity is launched with great fanfare to great applause. It may even get associated with a successful jump in sales for a quarter or two or three. But at some point the business cycle turns or the competition catches up. Memories of the big campaign or product launch fade. The issues that again dominate the critical business meetings are about features, technologies, cost, and price. Talk about brand fades, the brand magic disappears, the marcom budget gets cut.

What happens to the lead marketer, the hot shot, in this scenario? Sometimes they get blamed for the eventual business turn. Sometimes they leave to pursue a fresh opportunity and a new budget (often with an agency). Sometimes their relationships with the product people and other folks in the business--who resented the new ideas, the big campaign and the access to the CEO—get so strained that they get shown the door.

Rarely do they survive. When they do survive, sometimes they become the “make no waves” cynic, the obstructionist who’s always quick to say “been there, done that” and sucks the life out every meeting they attend.

Believe me. People in high-tech who get their companies to do big campaigns on behalf of a brand just don’t stay long.

I suppose that sometimes they grow and mature, bring new energies to new problems, bring a detailed commitment to optimizing the full marketing mix. But you don’t see those people very much. They don’t talk about brand. They talk about the detailed, complicated stuff that it takes to build and ship a product. These are the people that VPs and CEOs

I don’t why this person I met reminds of those marketers and agency types who are quick to justify investments in concepts as ethereal as brand, but he/she did. I really think great marketers talk and represent their product as complicated, multifaceted, sophisticated, changing things that meet customer needs. Not a brand.

Top Ten Reasons SEMICON West was a Huge Success

During a dismal market environment, verified visitor attendance was up nearly 20% at SEMICON West. What were the reasons? Here's my list.

10. Better website—This was our second year that SEMICON West was supported by a dedicated website. The results were more web visits, more page views, more time spent per page, and more opportunity for attendees to find what they need at the SEMICON West.

9. Better media partnerships—We have expanded our media partnerships to a broader circle of international media companies, expanding our reach in advertising, email and web.

8. Better email marketing—Through best of breed technologies and metric-based management, we are able to target and optimize our email messaging much better than the past.

7. Industry partnerships—We are fortunate to work with great partners such as IMAPS, MEPTEC, Lithography Workshop, Southwest Test, ITRS, FOA, SPIE and others, who are able to offer more and better reasons to attend SEMICON West.

6. Refreshed brand image—This year’s theme--Infinite Possibilities—was supported by a new look and feel and brand execution that emphasized new, new, new.

5. Better segmentation—One of the things we have successfully done is break the show down into separate segments. From program design, to sales, to audience recruitment, we really manage seven events, one for wafer processing, materials, assembly/packaging, test, enabling products (systems and components), emerging technologies, and PV.

4. Systems Integration—New exhibitors like Synopsys and Cadence and programs on DFM significantly increased the number of attendees interested in the design-production-test-flow

3. Intersolar--Solar energy and PV manufacturing is hot right now and Intersolar delivered the key decision makers and conference topics. But don’t think PV was the only reason for the jump in attendance; only 11% of the total verified visitors were interested in solar exclusively.

2. Still the place to be--SEMICON West remains the central place to see the entire industry on display and to meet key suppliers and colleagues. International attendance, including top VIPs from nearly every large foundry and IDM in the world, was up this year.

And the number one reason for the attendance improvement…

1. New products and suppliers--Attendees are in desperate need for new ideas and new suppliers and West was expected to deliver both. The industry is in transition with high k/metal gate designs, productivity needs, packaging innovations, lithography roadmap questions, and many more uncertainties and SEMCION West is a good place for answers. The number of visitors interested in core products such as CVD, PVD, etch and CMP nearly doubled. Visitors come to SW to see our exhibitors’ products, ideas solutions and solutions and this year they really delivered.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Nanosolar Yahoo News Group

I recently came across this video from Nanosolar where it was posted on YouTube.

What was surprising to me was not the use of YouTube or the video (it's pretty bad sound), but that it was distributed through the "Nanosolar Friends" News Group on Yahoo. Subscribers to the News Group get updates on Nanosolar through Yahoo emails, which are often authored by the CEO.

There are over 48,000 members to this news group!

I am a member of a few News groups, such as Seirra Summits, but I have not seen the news ggroup system so well applied to business. Maybe I should start one on SEMI?

ST- NXP Wireless Needs A New Name

Nice little riff from EETimes on the ST- NXP Wireless joint venture.

Perhaps we should move to a maore mangeable naming convention, something like ST-NXP 1.0, or better yet ST-Philips 2.0.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

OLED Display Video

The global organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display industry is expected to exceed $4.5 billion by 2010, up from $2.7 billion next year, according to a recent report by Global Industry Analysts

The Active-Matrix OLED (AMOELD) displays will represent the burgeoning segment in the total OLED display market. Revenues from this segment are expected to overtake passive-matrix segment and will achieve a share of about 84% of the total OLED market value by 2010. If you’ve ever seen one these displays you understand the optimism. These displays are cool!

Here’s a well done technical video from the Fruanhofer for Applied Polymer Research.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inside the "Best of West"

It has been an interesting experience organizing and managing the Best of West awards program at SEMICON West.

The program was developed to replace the Technology Innovation Showcase award program that we have been running for the last 4 years. The TIS was a good program that focused exclusively on new companies and involved a booth fee to participate in the “showcase” portion of the program. The TIS Committee worked hard to find and nurture a small group of entrants every year and the winners generally received some good visibility for their innovations.

But the program did not grow and it was a struggle to find entrants. New product introductions had to be the centerpiece of SEMICON West and we needed a big, loud, prestigious vehicle to support our attendees and exhibitors.

After talking with exhibitors, the TIS committee, and influential buyers in the industry, we decided to create a more conventional trade show award program, the Best of West Award.

Key aspects of the new award program were: free to all exhibitors, prestigious judges panel, open selection criteria (based on financial impact on the industry, engineering or scientific achievement, or societal impact and benefits) and special encouragement and consideration given to start-up and smaller companies. The process was structured to recognize all finalists prior to SEMICON West to achieve maximum publicity and pre-show value, and select winner(s) at the show where demonstrations or detailed questions on the submission could be answered.

Some of the organizing issues we faced were judge selection and the judging process. We wanted to assemble a diverse set of judges including top technology leaders at device makers. We also wanted to involve academia. Fortunately, Bernie Meyerson quickly singed up giving the program instant credibility. Our editor friends at the leading trade journals all agreed to participate, even though many of them had their own award programs. One of the great advantages we had with the trade journal participation was that it gave us nearly automatic coverage of all the segments (we hoped and encouraged test specialists to select test submissions, packaging editors to select packaging, etc.). This expectation held true as the finalist selections had a wide diversity and represented a broad set of technologies in the industry. The toughest group to recruit was academia, but Godfrey Mungel and Dave Parent joined on and our panel was set.

Concerning the judge process, one of the biggest issues was the desire to balance the need for thorough technical information on each entry without overwhelming our judges with a mountain of work. As it turned out, it was difficult balance. We had about 40 entries, each one consisting of a 750-word long description, a 300-word summary and associated charts and photos. The judges’ document turned out to be over 200 pages, 2-inches thick and about 10 megabytes of data. We will probably charge a fee next year for the award entries to limit unnecessary submissions.

Another challenge was the restriction of entries to new products and technologies introduced for the first time after May 1. Several exhibitors didn’t like this restriction, some wanted non-disclosure agreements, and many wanted extensions to the submission deadline. Our members aren’t shy about strongly pushing their opinions, but we felt our process was appropriate to meet our objectives.

Another challenge in the judging progress was the requirement to attend teleconferences where each judge had to explain or advocate their selection to the other judges. This was required to best utilize and leverage the different areas of expertise on the panel. When the choice is narrowed down to just finalists, judges are going to have to consider entries outside their areas of expertise and we needed to find a way to support this. Fortunately, the judges’ discussions on the entries went amazingly well. They were able to share their perspectives effectively and I think the entire panel is well informed about the merits of each finalist. Our academic participants were especially articulate in describing their impressions (I expected the journalists to be most verbose and the customers most definitive).

Almost all of the submissions were well-written and of high quality. A few submissions included promotional copy and graphics that generated a couple of negative comments from the judges.

I am absolutely thrilled with the selection of the finalists and know that any of them are worthy for the Best of West award. I know all the finalists are hugely regarded by the judges panel and are going to receive enormous visibility and prestige for their selection. For the good of West, our industry and the entrants, I hope they make boat load of money on their new products.

We will be making tweaks to next year’s program. If you have any suggestions on how we can make the Best of West program more successful, please let me know with a phone or call or email.

Friday, June 06, 2008

International Experiential Marketing Association

I recently came across a website for the International Experiential Marketing Association (IXMA). These folks are part of the wave of contemporary marketers who believe that traditional advertising and brand marketing that relies on soft messages and bulk impressions no longer work. People don’t believe in advertising and they expect your brand to look professional and be well executed. In their words, your customers “want respect, recognition and relevant communication, and they've indicated that the best way to give it to them is through experiences that are personally relevant, memorable, sensory, emotional and meaningful.”

I can’t help but agree with them.

Trade shows are an essential part of these critical customer experiences. They are dramatic demonstrations of how you listen, how you innovate, how you partner, and how you respect your customer. Too often at SEMICON events, this reflection isn’t a good one. Too often booths are set up to recreate a sales experience. Exbibitors have offices or meeting rooms and sales people ready to grab your hand and shake it out of your socket. They give away chotskes and throw parties. They use data sheets for graphics and they wait passively for a customer to stroll by so they can ambush them with a badge swipe or business card.

They don’t reflect leadership, they don’t reflect innovation or creativity, they don’t reflect customer interaction.

Today's customer wants to be involved in the marketing process by being engaged in a dialogue with you and your product. They want to be excited about your products and they want to see you excited about them. They are institutionally directed to commoditize your products, but emotionally they want to see exciting, rewarding, thoughtful points of differentiation.

The proponents of experiential marketing see it as a more holistic approach to the customer/brand relationship. They see it going way beyond traditional
feature-benefit methodology, engaging both rational and emotional sides of the customer.

Experiential marketing can be used in any medium, but in this industry SEMICON events afford the best scenario to create a fully immersive brand experience and platform for product differentiation. To fully leverage the SEMICON investment, exhibitors need to move beyond the customer “meet and greet” lead capture model and embrace the concepts of experiential marketing.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Life's a Marathon, Not a Sprint.

The San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon: 21,000 Runners, 20 Bands, 26.2 Miles

This was a tough race because of a shortened training cycle that was filled with trips to SEMICON Singapore, SEMICON China and the Strategic Business Conference. But I was reasonably successful in getting in the required miles on hotel treadmills and following my plan. My goal was 4:00. My time was 3:59. But most importantly I finished with an expectation that I will run another one (I have 2 more to go to have run every major marathon in California).

From the looks of this video, maybe I had too good a time running this race?

Friday, May 30, 2008

WANTED: Integration Across The Supply Chain

The need for better design, production and test integration had been discussed in the semiconductor industry for over 10 years. The concept had been repeated so many times, in so many contexts, that it’s taken on the feel of a shallow aphorism, like the saying “power tends to corrupt” or “he who laughs last, laughs best”

But the need for better supply chain integration has finally emerged as a real necessity with meaningful and specific attributes.

To meet consumers need for cramming more functionality into smaller, cheaper cell phones and multimedia devices, chip designers need an integrated design solution that lets them optimize interdie and die-to-substrate connectivity for signal performance and manufacturability. A key part of this process lies in co-design opportunities between the IC and package, the package and printed-circuit board or both-in order to satisfy tough performance, cost and size goals. Design for Manufacturing (DFM) has become an essential component in the production process and many see a future when DFM ceases to be independent step, but integrated directly into the design and verification process. New technologies such Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) also require an unprecedented integration between design, manufacturing and multi die packaging.

The fact is there is no forum today that brings together chip designers, wafer processing engineers, packaging specialists, and test plan developers under one roof to talk about the growing set of interdependencies and co-design needs.

We are trying to do that at SEMICON West.

Because Silicon Valley is the home of so many fabless semiconductor firms, consumer product companies like Apple and HP and Cisco, and leading IDMs like Intel, SEMICON West is the natural center of the emerging collaborative development model. SEMICON West already is one of the largest EDA expositions in the world with over 3000 attendees interested in design automation (including hundreds of CTOs) and exhibitors such as Synopsis, Magma and Cadence. And, most of the large US mobile and consumer products companies attend West, as well as every major IDM and fabless semiconductor company in the world.

The next step is to develop programs and forums to encourage and nurture collaboration and that is what we’ve done, especially this year. Some of the programs that leveraging this need for design-production-packaging-test collaboration include:

  • IDMs, OSATs, EDA suppliers, packaging equipment firms, and wafer processing companies will meet in comprehensive Packaging Sumitt to discuss the product, market and supply chain implications of 3D TSVs

  • High Density Packaging will dominate the TAP TechXPOT on Tuesday, July 15 from 3:00pm–5:00pm.

  • The increasing complexity of microelectronic devices is bringing about new thinking around semiconductor test. The new methodologies and ideas around test that will require industry collaboration and cooperation will be discussed on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • The synergy between anew materials and new processes for 32 and 22 nm manufacturing will highlight the Wafer Processing TechXPOT.

  • The linkage between lower power design and DFM will be addressed on the Thursday keynote by Jim Miller of Cadence.

  • DFM and the increasing complexity of “manufacturing sign-off” will be address throughout Thursday.

  • Standards committee meetings—where collaboration takes place at the highest, most substantive level—will be held throughout SEMICON

If you have any ideas on how we can do better—at SEMICON West or any other SEMI program-- in bringing the increasingly interdependent elements of the supply chain together, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Traffic Flow, Leads and Booth Location at SEMICON West

One of the most prominent goals for exhibitors at SEMICON West events is lead generation and one of the top concerns is booth location. Many exhibitors believe that leads are directly related to booth location, in fact, many firmly believe that location is the most important factor in lead generation.

This isn’t true and we have the data to prove it. Here is the lead distribution and booth visit appointments scheduled through BD Metrics for SEMICON West 2006 by Hall:

Percent of Average
North Hall= 99%
South Hall= 113%
West 1 = 99%
West 2 = 84%

While you might think from this data that South Hall is significantly better and West Hall Level 2 is significantly worse for leads, additional scrutiny reveals this not to be the case. If we remove the top lead generating exhibitor from South Hall, the difference between North and West Level 1 virtually disappears. West Hall numbers can be explained by the population of many smaller start-ups in the New and Emerging Technology area on Level 2 that year. On closer inspection, 8 of the top 12 most visited booths in West Hall were on Level 2. Looking at the distribution of booth visits across all the 4 top halls, we see the most visited booths randomly distributed between the halls, and within halls (front and back of hall are nearly the same).

What we know is that leads are primarily a function of exhibitor marketing. Companies that conduct pre-show mailings, have interesting displays, promotions, and well trained booth staffs generate more leads. Many of the top lead generating firms have special lead generation programs, such as product demonstrations or promotions. These firms can take their booth marketing program anywhere in Moscone and perform equally well in lead generation.

If you want to be successful in generating leads, you have to create a program that will interest your target market, compel them to your booth, and incent them to give you their badge for a swipe. Both location has very little to do with it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Packaging Innovation At West

Scott Kulicke, chairman and CEO of Kulicke and Soffa, gave a provocative keynote at the recent SEMICON show in Singapore. He pointed out that that the semiconductor industry has undergone pervasive dis-integration to achieve today’s cost efficiencies through supply chain specialization. Through outsourcing of manufacturing, through outsourcing of design and process technology, and through outsourcing of assembly, packaging and test, the industry has achieved great efficiencies, but not without hidden costs. Today, every supplier intensively competes exclusively with companies at the same level in the supply chain, preventing the kind of innovations through vertical integration that are vital in this era of consumer-driven electronics.

Kulicke was lamenting the fact that the current industry structure prevents packaging equipment companies from working directly with the end customer. Without this interaction, he questioned whether meaningful innovation—the kind you can make a lot of money on—can be achieved.

It is exactly this kind of need that we are trying to address at SEMICON West. Silicon Valley is no longer the center of the most advanced, most productive fabs in the world—they have mostly moved to Asia. Yet, the region is by far the leading center in fabless chip design, venture funding, and home to some of the leading consumer electronics companies in the world, such as Apple and HP. It is also remains an R&D center to Intel, AMD and others and home to leading EDA companies. All these audiences immerse themselves in SEMICON West-related events, programs and meetings. In this multi-chip, package-on-package world, no other region can hope to bring the full supply chain--from design to production and test—including the leading fabless chip companies, the leading venture backers, and the leading OEMs together to explore, learn and take part in the collaborative creative process necessary to compete in the digital world.

At this year’s SEMICON West we have tried to organize events and programs precisely to foster this full supply chain interaction that Kulicke was referring to. On Monday, July 15 we have a organized a Packaging Summit that will bring together design, fabless, equipment, materials, OSATs and IDMs together to talk about Through Silicon Via or TSV technology. TSV may force intensive design-manufacturing-test integration at levels unprecedented in the history of the industry.

On Wednesday, we have tried to organize the entire day’s events around Mobile Electronics with keynotes and TechXPOTs programs devoted to the special needs of mobile electronics in wafer processing, packaging, test and design. These programs—together with exhibitors like Advantest, Synopsys, Cadence, K&S, ASM, and others—we have to overcome the kind of disintegrated, specialized supply chain we see today.

All the ingredients are in place—hopefully with a heat and a little stirring, sparks will fly.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The IC Industry Has Matured, So What

Good commentary by Patrick Mannion--The IC Industry Has Matured, So What? --in this week's EETimes.  

The whining in this industry is really getting out of hand.  Consolidation, Slow Growth, Maturation, Whither Europe, Whither US...Boo Hoo.

Does every panel at a conference--or news report-- have to be about the consensus industry forecast?   Just how many people's jobs, careers or portfolios are based broad industry metrics. Any engineers out there?  How about sales and marketing people use this information to plan their day, week, career? Doesn't anyone care about new applications, new technologies, hot start ups, the little battles that mark the yearly swings in market share?  

In its place, forecasts and speculation on industry structure are certainly appropriate, but it seems to replacing discussions about technology and applications, the stuff most people care about, are interested in, and need to be on top of.  Just how many market analysts and corporate strategists who live and die speculating on industry structure are there out there?  

Of course, SEMI is as guilty as anyone in the industry for creating forums that might gravitate to doom and gloom prognosticating.  Like I said, it has its place.  But what's going on in Automative, Medical, Power, Mobile and is really exciting.  What's happening in IC packaging and high k, metal gate is essential stuff for thousands of engineers.  That's where the action is--applications, technology, products.  

Talk about industry structure and our collective financial prospects is like complaining about the weather.  We all succumb to it sometimes, but there's little we can do it about so give it a rest.  

SEMICON Singapore Video

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Innovation At Work in Singapore

“Technology Diffusion” is one of those intellectual concepts that you don’t expect to see taking place right before your eyes, but that’s what I witnessed at SEMICON Singapore.

The theory of Diffusion of Innovations is what every young marketer learns and its a useful guide to establishing marketing strategy. The theory is about how innovations spread through society in an S curve, as the early adopters and innovators select the technology first, followed by the early majority and late majority, and eventually laggards. The theory states that innovation diffusion is a process that occurs over time through five stages: Knowledge, Persuasion, Decision, Implementation and Confirmation. There’s a lot been written about it.

At the show this week, I kicked off the Advanced Packaging seminars at the Semiconductor Technology Symposium with a few clunky words and hung around to hear the opening keynotes and presentations on copper wire bonding. With the skyrocketing price of gold, copper wire bonding has been become a hot topic. While copper wire has been used for awhile on simpler devices, it hasn’t been widely deployed high volume chips because, well, it’s hard to do. The presentations discussed the latest research on copper wire bonding, showing the challenges, the costs, the process techniques, the new test methodologies needed. Very detailed.

The room was full—200 people—packaging engineers from every major OSAT in the region. You could hear a pin drop during the presentations. Every key detail was noted by the audience (their heads would drop simultaneously as they all took notes on the same point). As the morning sessions ended, I left for the exhibit floor, as did everyone else, single file down the escalators and through security. The crowd—over a hundred engineers—streamed directly into the K&S, Shinkawa and ASM booths (the top wire bonders) at the front of the hall. You know they were all talking copper.

In about 6 months, watch for all the new copper bonded products to start coming out.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Nanotechnology Futures

This video was played at our recent Strategic Business Conference in Napa Valley and you won't see a better a vision of the possibilities and opportunities emerging in nanotechnology.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pssst, looking for growth?

I admit it.

Sometimes I’m the first one to think and speak about the semiconductor industry as if its just one, big, monolithic entity.

But the reality is that each segment, each region, each customer, and even each fab is operating on it own dynamic. Sure, we tally them all open for book-to-bill numbers, forecasts and financials, but operationally we need to be technology-specific, fab-specific and customer-specific.

Which brings me to my point: things are hoppin’ in Singapore. It is estimated that capital spending will decline by 10% to 15% globally in 2008, but the semiconductor equipment market in Southeast Asia is expected to grow from $3.05 billion to $3.13 billion in 2008. The assembly and test equipment market represents about 50% of this market. In materials, the Southeast Asia market will grow from $6.8 billion to close to $7.6 billion—an increase of about 12%. The packaging materials segment within this market is expected to reach $5.0 billion in 2008, surpassing North America. For more information on the region, check out the market summary done by the SEMI Industry Stats team.

In addition to front-end and backend semiconductors, Singapore is also hot on PV. REC and First Solar have announced major plants for the region and government planners and investors see PV as an area for growth.

SEMICON Singapore on May 2-5 is nearly sold out and we expect the show to be like the market and the weather: hot.

I am so impressed with our Committees and the great job they did in putting the program together. We have Scott Kulicke giving one of the keynotes, and the packaging and test programmes (noticed how I used the Queen’s spelling) are deep and targeted as usual. I know the Tuesday PV session will be standing room only.

In addition to the show’s normal strengths in the backend, SEMICON Singapore is also a great opportunity to see market front-end equipment and materials. 38% of the attendees are from IDMs and foundries, twice that of outsourced test and assembly firms. Attendees interest in wafer processing products is comparable to other SEMICONs and Singapore attendees don’t attend any other show. Like all SEMICONs, Singapore serves a huge regional market of buyers and specifiers virtually unreachable by other medium.

If you need more information on SEMICON Singapore or would like to meet at the show, please let know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SMECS- Sales and Marketing Executive Council

I had the honor of going before the Sales and Marketing Executive Committee (SMECS) last week and presenting our plans and programs for SEMICON West. SMECS is a special interest group of SEMI that represents sales and marketing leaders in North America. They organize our highly successful Silicon Valley Lunch Forums and have been the source for many SEMI policies and programs such as the Strategic Business Conference, the TIS Award and the Bob Graham Award for marketing excellence in the industry.

SMECS is comprised of a fascinating collection of industry veterans and new executives. Some of their members were intimately involved in the birth of the industry and have had ringside seat at every major milestone for the past 20 years. Other members are newer to the industry and looking to make their own mark on the business. Together, they possess a wide spectrum of expectations for what an association and an event should be doing to advance their interests. As a sales and marketing group, they have strong interests and strong opinions on SEMICON West. I was looking forward to the meeting because I am proud of how we manage the show and wanted to give them some insights into the level of effort and the degree of sophistication we take in executing the event. I also urgently need to take advantage of the knowledge, contacts and experience they can provide to help make West a stronger show (and SEMI a better organization).

I gave them a historical overview of the show and presented key show facts on industry segments, attendee attitudes and opinions, and exhibitor satisfaction data. I told them how we are managing the show according to this data, and how we have broken the show into different segments so we can better target attendee and exhibitor needs. I think they were satisfied with our approach to show management, but it wasn’t a love fest. They are a diverse and opinionated group with strong opinions and valuable perspectives.

Among the issues that some were most concerned with was the elimination of the TIS Award (as mentioned, a SMEC developed program) and its replacement by the Best of West Award. I explained that I felt that unfortunately TIS never achieved widespread visibility, recognition and value for either exhibitors or attendees. I also explained that the objectives of TIS were perhaps not consistent with exhibitor, attendee or member priorities for a technology award program. The TIS Committee and SEMI tried, but it just never caught on. We hope that the more open Best of Award achieves greater prominence and better helps our members and attendee interests in seeing West remain the premier new product launch venue in the industry.

An important outcome of the meeting was the preliminary agreement to utilize SMECS in the planning design of SEMICON West in the critical August-September time frame (right after 07 West, when we set meaningful strategic objectives for 2008). I’m looking forward to working closer with SMECs to ensure the finest possible event for attendees and exhibitors and members.

If you are in the sales and marketing position for a SEMI member company, you can gain valuable contacts and influence over SEMI programs by joining SMECS. For additional information, contact:

SMECS Committee Membership Contact Information
Collin Luttringer, Membership Chair
P: 408 875-0603

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cai Guo Qiang Performance Art

I was in New York last week and was fortunate to see the Cai Guo Qiang exhibit at the Guggenheim. For his work, Cai draws on a wide variety of materials, mediums and traditions—elements of feng shui, Chinese medicine and philosophy, images of dragons and tigers, and gunpowder, lots of gunpowder. Since September 11th he has begun using explosives both as metaphor and material. His explosive works, like Black Rainbow, become momentary, elusive demonstrations of alchemy and violence. His also uses gun powder residue as a medium for "painting". He will be the creeative director for the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

I share it with you here because it reminds me of the overwhelming power of human imagination. This gift can be used by artists and activists like Cai, and it can be used in business. We sometimes forget how powerful provacative imagination can be in business. We forget that humans make decisions with two halves of a complex brain. We forget we are hard wired for emotion and beauty. We underutilize art and underestimate its force to change opinion and open the mind to new ideas.

Trade shows managers are in the ideal position to utilize three dimensional art to transmit business-related messages. The best trade show exhibits are art, "made with the intention of stimulating the human senses as well as the human mind, by transmitting emotions and/or ideas". What better place to source inspiration for your next business project than from artists like Cai?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cutting Marketing Budgets Are Not the Way to Manage A Recession

At the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS), held in Half Moon Bay, California, Stephen Newberry, president and CEO of Lam Research, discussed the state of the industry and today’s perplexing financial results that can be best described as profitless prosperity. In discussing causes of the problem, Newberry said, “Everybody is pursuing cost as solution…in a race to the bottom.” In presenting historical and segment financial results, he concluded, “Clearly cost is not the significant factor relative to generating operating profit.”

While Newberry was speaking about chip makers, I would argue that cost reduction is also not the solution to equipment and materials makers current financial challenges. In a recession, market share gainers are invariably the last to cut the budgets that deliver and communicate their winning differentiation. Market leaders create a winning future by understanding what their customers want, meeting those needs through product and service development, and effectively communicating their differentiation.

Communications is a critical part of the formula: you can’t “just build it and they will come.”. Customers need to know, understand and value the benefits of your product and services. There are a thousand differentiating variables for customers to focus on; they may choose to concentrate on those which give you an advantage or your competitors. Its not always rational, or fair, and its clearly not always about who “has the best technology.”

In a recession, companies that have a clear understanding of their competitive advantage—and have confidence in it—gain share and come up on the upturn stronger and more profitable than those that simply manage costs. These are the companies that see marketing and communications as a necessary instrument of differentiation, not as a luxury only affordable during good times.

After 30 years of SEMICONs, we have seen upturns and downturns come and go from a unique perspective. We see trade show budgets that rise with confidence and creativity when the market is simply making capacity buys, and shrink when buyers are making strategic decisions about partners and sole sourcing. We see successful companies communicate confidently and effectively with the market when their competitive advantage can best be leveraged, not just when it is more financially amenable.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why all the Posts?

Because in China I couldn't access my blog.  Maybe it had something to do with the problems in T*****?

Its Different with SEMI

If you think there's no difference between a private organizer and an industry association in producing trade shows, consider the following programs recently held at SEMICON China:
  • PV & MEMS Technology Seminar
  • Silicon Manufacturers Group 
  • Equipment and Spare Parts Localization Meeting
  • Used Equipment Forum
  • PV Technology Conference
  • Export Controls and Customs Workshop
  • Regional EHS Meeting
  • Dalian Semiconductor Base Promotion
  • SEMI/GSA Joint Promotion Meeting
In addition to the above meetings, workshops and forums, much of the opening ceremonies, executive luncheons, hospitality events and other get-togethers were conducted with the point of advancing industry's interests. Maybe none of these meetings would have been held without the support of the equipment and materials industry association. SEMICONS are not just about selling booths, they are about serving the industry.

The Green Supply Chain

Just in time for my trip to FPD China 2008 and SEMICON China, a devastating article about the polysilicon industry in China appeared in the Washington Post last week. In a major feature, the Post reported:

“In China, polysilicon plants are the new dot-coms. Flush with venture capital and with generous grants and low-interest loans from a central government touting its efforts to seek clean energy alternatives, more than 20 Chinese companies are starting polysilicon manufacturing plants. The combined capacity of these new factories is estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 tons -- more than double the 40,000 tons produced in the entire world today.
(But) solar plants in China have not installed technology to prevent pollutants from getting into the environment or have not brought those systems fully online, industry sources say.”

Whether or not the accusations in the story are accurate, or widespread, SEMI has a huge responsibility to our members and society to being positive a force in advancing environmental responsibility and Best Practices in the industries we serve. Membership in SEMI should come with both responsibilities and benefits, but this is difficult to assure and enforce. Many of the benefits of membership, such as industry standards and public policy benefits are not exclusive to members--everyone benefits. Even in trade shows, non-exhibitors and non-members benefit from the industry congregation by setting up meetings in hotel rooms, even though they have contributed nothing to the incentives that bring customers, industry experts and other leaders to the venue.

SEMI is not overly concerned with restricting benefits to dues-paying members and exhibitors. We do, however, struggle with assigning responsibilities to members as part our association mission. Many associations require the signing of a code of conduct or principles to be members. Very often, these associations are established exclusively to address environmental and other public policy issues; common agreement on certain industry practices is the raison d'tre of the organization.

At SEMI, we encourage and support our member’s environmental responsibilities in a separate vehicle called Global Care. Members of Global Care have agreed to support important sustainability objectives. In dealing with the emerging polysilicon businesses in China, and elsewhere, we will be using both SEMI membership and Global Care to influence environmental practices. By becoming a SEMI member, new China companies become part of global network of suppliers that implicitly agree to a responsible code of conduct. By joining Global Care, members explicitly agree to a substantive commitment to sustainability practices. SEMI is committed to bringing emerging China companies into the global marketplace and into our membership so we can assure greater assurance to all members, and all parts of society, that we are leaving the earth a better place than when we found it.

FPD China 2008

Friday, March 07, 2008

Marketing in a Recession

Some marketers in the semiconductor industry are facing reduced budgets due to the current industry downturn. For many companies, it’s the last thing they should do.
What does history and research say about marketing during recession?

The 1990-91 recession lasted eight months with unemployment eventually peaking at 7.8%, 50% higher than the current rate. Home prices in the top 10 metropolitan areas fell 8.3% during the downturn and the stock market dropped 21%.

It was during this time that Intel launched “Intel Inside” and spent $100 million on a risky, untried marketing campaign. In 1992, the first year of "Intel Inside" campaign, worldwide sales rose 63%.

According to the February 4th issue of Advertising Age, consumer product giants P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Kraft Foods, and Kellogg are all boosting (or have at least maintained) their marketing budgets. This even as they are cutting costs elsewhere due to the slowing economy.

For well-positioned companies, an economic recession should not prompt marketing cutbacks, but rather an aggressive increase in marketing spending to achieve superior business performance according to recent research by professors at Penn State's Smeal College of Business. Other studies have also confirmed that aggressive marketing during an economic downturn can result in greater market share gains than spending increases in a growing economy. The Penn State study finds that firms entering a recession with a pre-established strategic emphasis on marketing; an entrepreneurial culture; and a sufficient reserve of under-utilized workers, cash, and spare production capacity are best positioned to approach recessions as opportunities to strengthen their competitive advantage.

"Proactive marketing includes both the sensing of the existence of the opportunity (a tough hill and fatigued opponents) and an aggressive response (possessing the necessary strength or nerve) to the opportunity," say the researchers.

"Those firms with a strategic emphasis on marketing have already put in place the programs that help them derive value from their marketing activities (e.g., well-recognized brands, differentiated products, targeted communications, good support and service, etc.)," said the authors.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

This was a fun program to help develop. One of the great joys of SEMI is working with people who are smarter and more accomplished than you.

SEMICON West has always been the premier venue to see the latest innovations in the industry and we needed an award that celebrated that distinction…we needed an award that would live throughout history, become milestones, signposts to remember.

The inaugural Best of West Award is intended to recognize our industry’s outstanding engineering and scientific achievements, important new products and amazing solutions.
We’ve just announced it to exhibitors and we’re open for submissions. We’re especially excited about the judges panel: independent, diverse, covering most segments, academia, distinguished customers, all the key journalists. Many of the journalists also have award programs so I am especially thankful for their support.

• Dr. Robert, Doering, Senior Fellow in Silicon Technology Development, Texas Instruments
• Bernard Meyerson, IBM Fellow, vice president and chief technologist, Systems & Technology Group, IBM
• Godfrey Mungal, Dean, School of Engineering, Santa Clara University
• Ann Stephora Mutschler, Senior Editor, Electronic News
• Mark Osborne, Editor in Chief, Semiconductor FabTech
• David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, EuroAsia Semiconductor
• Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief, Semiconductor International
• Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor, Solid State Technology
• Francoise von Trapp, Managing Editor, Advanced Packaging
• Rick Nelson, Chief Editor, Test & Measurement World
• Marc David Levenson, Editor-in-Chief, Microlithography World
• Dr. David W. Parent Associate Professor, San Jose State University.

Monday, March 03, 2008


With semiconductor capex spending looking bleak for the year, I hope you’re one of the many SEMI members also serving the flat panel display (FPD) industry.

According to DisplaySearch, sales of equipment used to manufacture TFT-LCDs will surge 40% to over $11 billion in 2008, and will likely remain at a similar level through 2009. TFT fab utilization increased from a sickly 85.4% at the beginning of last year to a robust 95.7% as the year ended, the highest level recorded. In response, the top five LCD makers—Samsung, AUO, LPL, CMO and Sharp—are all expecting to increase spending through 2008 and well into 2009.

Apart from the added growth that new markets offer, diversification can help balance revenue streams and minimize impact of the boom and bust cycles affecting any one segment.

For many SEMI members, PV offers the same diversification opportunity that FPD offers. Certainly the polysilicon suppliers have benefited from the emergence of PV the last few years, but many equipment suppliers have seen a large bump in sales from PV applications as well. The number of PECVD, sputtering, furnaces, laser scribers, screen printing, and other tools targeted for PV have doubled in the last two years and will likely double again by 2011.

Another industry that is providing SEMI members with diversification opportunities is solid state lighting. Revenues from discrete LED devices are expected to increase by an impressive 22% cumulative average growth rate (CAGR) between 2005 and 2010, according to a new five-year forecast from IC Insights of Scottsdale, Arizona. Paving the way for this revenue growth is an intensifying race to develop and mass-produce highly luminous white LEDs for indoor solid-state lighting systems. Total unit shipments of LED devices will climb to about 64 billion in 2010, up from 27.4 billion in 2005. That’s gonna require a whole lot of equipment and materials.

Helping our members diversify into new markets is a key challenge for SEMI. Typically, we try to highlight emerging markets at one of executive conferences, such as ISS or SBC. Sometimes we will create a dedicated event to serve our members such as FPD China or the PV Fab Managers Forum. Another common approach to helping our members diversify include partnership events such as FPD International and Intersolar North America. Our market research, standards, EHS, and public policy groups within SEMI also search for ways to enhance new market opportunities.

Picking the right new market, and using our limited time, energy and resources to help members profit from it is one of the most difficult and challenging responsibilities we have at SEMI. If you know of an emerging market that SEMI can help accelerate on behalf of our members, please let us know. Facing a bleak year in capex spending for semiconductors, a little diversification is something we all could do a little more of.

Nice Little PV Video

I'm sure I can find a place to use this nice little video on PV.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Continuous Improvement at SEMICON Events—A Global Approach

I periodically get asked, “What are you doing to improve SEMICON events?” Sometimes the question is directed at a particular SEMICON exposition and sometimes it is directed to our portfolio of events. The answer is simple (“…everything”) and complicated (“how much time do you have?”).

Our philosophy is that every aspect of show execution and delivery requires continuous improvement. The common Japanese term for continuous improvement is Kaizen, or "change for the better." It requires exploring deeply and systematically the reasons behind our programs and activities. It requires open-minded exploration of new ideas and continuous monitoring of both the process and results.

SEMI is a non-profit association that manages shows on behalf of our members’ interests. Our activities are overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of SEMI members. Because of the importance of expositions to SEMI members, the Board has established a standing committee that provides guidance and oversight on our exposition business. These are leaders of our industry and very smart people. They expect SEMI to manage shows with the same management tools and techniques as they manage their own business.

Fundamental to our process of continuous improvement is metrics. It is imperative we manage our business and our members’ interests in a rational and systematic way, based upon accurate data and thorough analysis. Our approach to metrics is based on both quantitative and qualitative data (see chart). We use surveys to both exhibitors and attendees to measure what people want, if they were satisfied and other parameters. These are quantitative measures that yield measurable and statistically valid insights into the opinion of large groups.

Qualitative data is simply good information that is not easily or appropriately put in numerical terms. It’s the exhibitor complaint, the great idea, the input and direction from a committee. While qualitative in nature, this kind of information is still vital to putting on a great exposition. It is fundamental to developing keynote selections and technical programs and it’s the best source for new ideas.

SEMI takes continuous improvement very seriously and we use a number of techniques to capture and apply good information to improve our shows. When you see a SEMI survey or get a visit or phone call from SEMI staff, please give us your best advice on how to improve our performance. I promise you that your input will be used.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Politicians Can Tell Us About Trade Show Marketing

The United States is in the midst of grueling political season with wall-to-wall primaries since early January. The willowing out process for selecting the candidates for the two major parties has more than a few parallels to the decision making process for advanced technology. One similarity that comes to mind is the concept of authenticity.

Authenticity has become of one the most discussed and powerful factors in the presidential race. With conservatives trying to be seen as moderate, moderates as conservatives and liberals as moderates, it’s no wonder that voters might get confused over who stands for what. As politicians struggle articulating positions that seem contrary to what they said in the past, people are paying more attention to style, execution and presentation. They’re looking for clues into a candidate’s honesty and genuineness.

According to one commentator, “The key factor in this race so far: authenticity. On Super Tuesday, voters once again rewarded those candidates who seemed most comfortable playing themselves, and harshly punished the one who came across as a plastic phony.”

Sales people, like politicians, have a habit of telling customers what they want to hear, whether it is thoroughly accurate or not. They can sell price, they can sell performance. They can sell features, they can sell service. Sophisticated customers know how sales people operate. They understand what is happening when they get a barrage of questions from a sales person. They know it’s intended to reveal what is important to the prospect, to uncover hidden objections or opportunities. Sophisticated customers know that sales people are rarely authentic. When evaluating complex purchases, they also look for clues into the authenticity of a position. Is this supplier really focused about lowering total cost of ownership, pushing innovation, providing service? Can they really deliver competitive advantage in yield, productivity, time to market?

For many exhibitors, trade shows enhance authenticity. While customers expect good sales people to compensate for differing customer needs, trade show displays shout out a tangible position, feature or benefit that underscores a choice made by the manufacturer: We believe this is important! This is who we are!

If what you have to sell is really differentiated, there is nothing like a physical, tangible, dimensional, creative expression of that position to achieve valuable authenticity.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

BPA Attendance Audit Confirms SEMICON West Audience Quality, Quantity

Many years ago when I went to work for Motorola, I had to pass a drug test to land the job of my dreams. Now, there was no way I could fail the drug test, impossible, but I was scared. What if the tests got mixed up at the lab or some strange thing I ate the week before generated a false positive? I was so nervous, I spilled my urine sample all over the floor. The nurse had to call the janitor to clean it up.  He laughed so long and so hard I wanted run away and hide. I had to wait 2 hours in the nurse’ office before I could muster enough fluid to fill another cup.

I had some of the same feelings with the BPA Audit we conducted for SEMICON West. SEMI commissioned BPA Worldwide and Event Surveys to audit our visitor data and validate the accuracy of our visitor registration, data collection, and validation process. I knew our processes were solid and BPA would confirm our statistics, but I couldn’t help think something would go wrong.

Fortunately, like my earlier drug test, the BPA Audit came out fine, confirming the quality of our post-show reports and attendee surveys. The audit affirms the overall quality of the audience attending SEMICON West and highlights key demographic information, including:

  • 72% of visitors attending SEMICON West influence buying and product selection;
  • 74% of visitors find attendance at SEMICON West influential in their evaluation, recommendation, or purchase of products and technology;
  • 50% of visitors only attend SEMICON West and no other event during the year;
  • 27% of visitors in 2007 were first-time visitors

These are powerful numbers worthy of any high tech event in the world.  It might have made me a little nervous, but it was well worth it.  For a copy of the report, click here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A New Record!

Sometimes all I hear about is bad news: industry consolidation, tighter margins, declining marketing budgets. With globalization, videoconferencing, interactive websites, and new concepts like “virtual trade shows”, you would the SEMI exposition business would be shrinking.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

SEMI expositions hit a new record last year in the number of booths sold. In fact, the SEMI trade show business has increased about 20% since 2003. SEMICON Korea, Taiwan, and Japan all broke new records. Trade shows aren’t getting less important to the industry; their influence and value has never been greater.

In a mature, consolidating industry, how could this be?

There are number of reasons to explain the continued vitality and importance of trade shows in the semiconductor industry. The first thing that comes to mind is the speed of the industry. Product life cycles are shortening, technology is racing forward. New developments such as high k/metal gate, new packaging innovations, continued productivity demands, advances in nano, EUV, test, and more all keep buyers and specifiers coming back to trade shows. They need to keep abreast of change and nothing does that better than a SEMICON event.

Another reason for continued growth is that our SEMICONS have adapted. Not only have they adapted to the growth of the industry in Asia, they have added new elements to meet the specific needs of each regional market. China has become full industry event with design, fabless, and foundry all participating; Korea has added solid state lighting; PV has become an important component of Europa, West and Taiwan. MEMS, Nano, display, test/packaging, materials, end-use markets such as automotive, wireless, consumer all have different concentrations in each SEMICON, reflecting regional markets and attendee interest.

The final reason for success, in my opinion, is that SEMI is fortunate to have our shows driven by program and exhibitor committees that keep them responsive to the business need. SEMICON shows are designed to serve members; not to maximize profits (i.e. we don’t raise prices for sold out events). I am a blue blood capitalist, but in this case, I think our SEMICON products have fared quite well under a collectivist philosophy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Future of Trade Shows

Remember in the movie “Minority Report” when Tom Cruise walks through a shopping center and the kiosks and billboards instantly “recognize” him and dynamically change their content to meet his specific profile. We recently sat through a presentation on RFID that offered many of the same capabilities. Imagine, walking through a SEMICON show and the show signage and exhibitor displays sensed your presence and delivered you customized information based on your individual needs.

Fish Software, a provider of interactive marketing software used at trade shows and consumer events, uses an ultrawide-band real-time location system that can identify and track event attendees. The RFID tags are integrated into attendee badges. By reading these tags, sensors deployed throughout the trade show floor, and at the entrances to conference session rooms, can track the movements and locations of attendees. The system has an accuracy of less than four inches and can analyze and track the exact location of all tags every second. The data can be used to identify what booth an attendee visited, how long they stayed and what displays or presentations they spent time on. The system even has the ability to identify who they attendee met with by identifying the time spent in proximity to other RFID tags.

Of course, this kind of personal tracking intelligence comes with important privacy concerns. For ethical if not legal considerations, visitors would have to agree in some way to be tracked. Fish overcomes this potential barrier by giving the visitor extra show benefits in exchange for the enhanced information. They integrate “visitor intelligence” and “immersive media” to ensure that the attendee wearing a tag is delivered an enhanced experience that is more beneficial and relevant.

One way they do this is through interactive kiosks and digital sign networks that automatically recognize an attendee when engaged. When an attendee stands in front of a kiosk, a system will display the attendees name and allow the attendee to press a single button (on the touch-screen) to have information sent directly to his/her email address. Other features can include the ability to trigger relevant advertisements (based on interests expressed during the registration process), session information, messages, local attractions and more. Exhibitor displays can also include RFID sensors to customize product information to the visitor. With this solution, a show like SEMICON can offer much more visitor information to exhibitors and a more beneficial trade show experience to attendees.

Unfortunately, the concept hasn’t been deployed in a trade show the size of SEMICON and the applications, kiosks, and interactive media haven’t been developed for deployment. But it is a fascinating vision of where the future may be heading and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Photo Credit: Wonder Wall: Realization of Interactive Wall in the Movie “Minority Report”
Nobuhiko Nishio, Koji Shuto, Kiyoto Tani, Takamichi Ishihara, Tomonori Morikawa
Ritsumeikan University