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NI sees Asia moving up the innovation chain

Posted: 25 Feb 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:R&D? electronic manufacturing?

At a time when the western economies have continued to be depressed, Asia yet offers a slight reprieve to those better positioned to convert opportunities to business. Victor Mieres, National Instruments' VP of emerging markets, Asia/ROW, appeared to support that view late last year in a meeting with Vivek Nanda, EE Times Asia's executive editor. Mieres was joined by Chandran Nair, managing director for Southeast Asia.

The economic environment is making people nervous and the region's industries want better news coming out of Europe. Mieres and Nair, however, believe that National Instruments is positioned well to weather most storms. Their business is so spread that no industry accounts for more than 15 per cent of the total. Yet, this region being export-driven, end-of-line production, T&M market, the company suffers quickly in this part of the world when demand suffers in the United States and Europe, according to National Instruments.

Victor Mieres

Mieres: Our approach is a high-touch business approach. The model is predicated to being able to pretty much touch every engineer who will use our technology.

"But the response of the governments over here has been very anti-cyclical," said Mieres. "If there is a slowdown in one sector, there's a stimulus packagewe've seen that happen in 2009in funds, education, infrastructure development. And we have opportunities there. Defence is always well funded. That broad-based approach we've taken has served us very well."

Mieres said that the semiconductor and electronic manufacturing industries are major growth drivers in the region. "But then we have opportunities in the mid- and long-term in power and infrastructure and they are the ones that are going to provide the buffer and the stability," he added.

Regional strategy
The executives believe that engineers are the same everywhere, which calls for a common global approach. "If you are an engineer, there is a common bond no matter where you are in the worldengineers think one way; they are trained to think in a certain way," explained Mieres.

However, the ASEAN region comprises countries that are at either end of the spectrum in engineering experience and the capacity of the market to bear prices common elsewhere. And Mieres agrees there are differences.

"The affordability gap between developed and emerging [markets] is quite high. So there would be groups of engineers who are really smart, innovators, but they just don't have access to the technology. Finding ways, business models that allow us to provide technology to engineers who cannot afford it is one different approach.

"The other thing is that the need for innovation in different countries is tremendous. For instance, helping clean up a body of water in rural Cambodia is something that engineers can solve but it has to be done in a local way.

"Our approach is a high-touch business approach. The model is predicated to being able to pretty much touch every engineer who will use our technology. Of course, there is an issue of scale when the approach is so people-intense. What that means for us from the business point of view is that [having the] ability to reach all these potential engineers is difficult, it's expensive. So how do we balance the cost and missionit is tricky and interesting to navigate."

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