Chinese technology powerhouses are racing to roll out digital expo solutions as the COVID-19 epidemic temporarily bars businesses from offline connections.
Tencent Cloud, a leading provider of cloud computing services of Tencent Holdings Ltd, has just unveiled a new digital solution for hosting online exhibitions.
By bringing together a range of existing products, including social-customer relationship management suits in VooV Meeting and Tencent Qidian, the service package helps purchasers, exhibitors and event sponsors conduct their business online by going beyond the limits of physical locations.
The new solution is designed to bring the exhibition industry to a new level as China pours in investments into "new infrastructure" to revive growth, according to Rita Zeng, vice-president of Tencent Cloud.
"Tencent Cloud is not about simply moving traditional fairs to online presentations, but to provide more creative services for exhibitions both online and offline with cloud services, 5G and big data technology. This offers opportunities for industry optimization and cross-sector synergy," she said.
The company is set to bring the 127th Canton Fair, a major trade event in China, online for the first time in June by becoming its sole technical service provider.
It will support the import and export fair by exhibiting products through online displays of texts, pictures, videos, and 3D demonstrations, as well as enabling the livestreaming of marketing events for merchants and enterprises.
Other services would include smart search, supply-demand matching, instant messaging, video conferencing, intelligent translation and digital contract services, it said.
Tencent Cloud is also partnering with the China Cross-Straits Technology and Projects Fair, which will be held in Fuzhou city, Fujian province, between June 18-21.
At the same time, Alibaba Group is also doubling down on online exposition by forming a dedicated digital expo company in partnership with the city of Shanghai.
The joint venture between the e-commerce giant and the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai will employ a combination of technologies such as 3D, 5G and big data to provide a deeper online and offline integration of expositions, even as the virus flattens its curve, said Vice-Mayor Xu Kunlin in an unveiling ceremony earlier this month.
"The platform can ideally host fairs of any kind. Big data is also being applied to recommend to users potential online fairs based on their interests," said Zhu Feng, CEO of Digital Expo, who is also general manager of the event marketing department at Alibaba.
He noted the company is poised to provide a solid supplement to offline events and he looks forward to partnering with the China International Import Expo, the country's top import-themed fair.
President of General Motors China, Julian Blissett, who joined the event through a video conferencing call, said the automaker is embracing the vibrant digital landscape in China as providing "far-reaching, engaging and interactive" solutions.
The company is a result of the megacity's latest push in online exhibitions under the municipal guideline of developing the online new economy, where 12 key industries were highlighted to chart the city's future course.
Given the spread of COVID-19, the traditional conference and trade show market moving to virtual events will only be "a matter of time".
Those events will continue to adopt virtual technology to either replace physical events where attendance is lagging or complementary to physical events, according to the Virtual Conference and Trade Show Market Forecast report by Market Research Media based in the United States.