As we reach the end of 2020 and enter a New Year with renewed hopes and vigours, I am beginning my journey as the President of UFI, the global association of exhibition industry. I look forward to 2021 as a hallmark year for UFI and tap the opportunities that we can avail and move ahead.
Year 2020 has been an unprecedented one for businesses worldwide as COVID-19 forced us to realign our goals. There’s a glimmer of hope with the progress made in developing vaccines. Encouragingly, exhibition industry stakeholders, have chartered out ways to continue their journey amidst the challenges and are making steady progress.
Friends, four areas that I am passionate about as we tackle the challenges presented before us are Resilience, Leadership, Technology, and Community. These four focus areas aren’t of recent origin, some are ongoing and some are planned for the long-term. These will set the broad directions for several of UFI’s initiatives over the next one year.
Resilience has been an inherent characteristic of our exhibition industry, the UFI Digital Congress 2020 rightly focused on it and it doesn’t end there, we shall remain resilient and our industries shall remain resilient – for an effective revival. Countries across the world led by their respective heads have been pushing hard with unprecedented measures and stimulus packages to revive exhibition industries in their own regions. The time is apt for businesses to explore new opportunities, strategies to innovate, enhance technological capabilities, equip workforce with modern technologies, reorient market strategies, keep the cash flow going, and re-emerge as a force to reckon with once again.
Leadership, more effectively, purpose driven leadership, symbolises what leaders need to do to survive and excel in these extraordinary times. From addressing immediate issues of safeguarding companies, to guiding and mentoring stakeholders in periods of pain, to reaching normalcy or new normalcy, leaders will truly be tested. Leadership across all levels, all regions, gender, race, position and next generation will have to lead by example.
Technology will be the key enabler for making smart moves, more specifically, digital technology will be a game changer across all levels. It is extremely vital for the entire exhibition industry to understand the impact that ‘digital technology’ will have on exhibitions. However, finding success through digital is not automatic, it is essential for stakeholders to understand the enhanced value proposition possibilities that it brings. It is also important to understand the right areas where ‘value creation’ is possible – either a new value creation or enhancement of an existing value.
Community, and enhanced connection with community will pay rich dividends. While the “connect with community” has always been present, only few organizations followed it in true spirit. I feel that this is an area where there is tremendous scope for our exhibition industry to strengthen itself further. In my opinion, “connect with community” is essential, whether it is industry sectors, or specific geographical areas or any part of society. This needs to be very much a part of our purpose. When this connection is stronger and deeper, our survival, revival and success will follow certainly.
UFI has played a scintillating role in developing the exhibition industry by working collaboratively with various international associations and making it a turf for promoting various sectors. I am glad to continue the endeavour to make global exhibition industry more vibrant and strong.
Looking at 2021, we have an unparalleled challenge before us, let us rise together, and let us win together!
Anbu Varathan, UFI President