At the recent SPI show in Florida, several things were highly noticeable, including smaller attendance levels, less participant and product ‘buzz’, and increased uncertainty over what is happening in the PV industry today. While the decline in attendance translated into a lower ‘quantity’ of aisle traffic, a more important metric tracked here was that the ‘quality’ of those present was particularly high.
Less ‘buzz’ effectively means that there were fewer start-ups present, promoting disruptive business models or new ‘revolutionary’ game-changing products. However, the upside here was a somewhat greater focus on getting real PV projects installed now on the ground (or on rooftops), and having an immediate source of revenues coming in.
With ‘uncertainty’ prevailing as one of the key challenges this year (with trade disputes still unresolved), perhaps one of the main questions being considered was “Just how many 2012 SPI exhibitors will be around in 2013?” This is reflected in the fact that many companies are being cautious doing business in the PV industry today and careful in their selection of customers.
However, after three days at the exhibition, some booths retained an air of optimism and were like ‘honey-pots’ attracting the crowds (assisted in some cases by the lure of beer and pretzels, or coffee and cookies). But the key factor was the intense excitement about PV as a technology, and recent progress, expansion activity and levels of success in the market.
In fact, some booths exuded an amazingly upbeat and positive attitude right through to the end of the show.
Just having the right attitude and a positive outlook today could be among the most important attributes to building long-lasting business relationships, as the industry transitions away from the challenging business climate faced today.