ITAC has been conducting international trade missions for two years now but the recent ITAC/Ontario Government mission to India established a new benchmark for effectiveness. This is a testament to the strength of ITAC’s strategic focus on two key markets (India and the UAE-Dubai) and its evolving network of key contacts in these markets.
Partnerships are Imperative
This mission was conducted in close partnership with MEDTIE and was designed in consultation with Raj Narula to provide Canadian ICT companies in the early stages of their exploration of the Indian market with a deep understanding of exposure to some of the principal players in the Indian ICT ecosystem. A secondary objective was to give participants an up-close view of some of the logistical challenges of doing business in India.
Eleven companies participated in the mission. The program exposed them to ICT MNEs in three major ICT centres, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.
Each of the four days of the program began with market briefings from officials of the local Trade Commissioner Service, EDC and other private sector resources who generously shared insights and advice with our delegates. This helped to underscore the powerful arsenal of resources available to all Canadian companies exploring international business development opportunities.
The “meat of the matter” for this mission, however, was a set of meetings between our delegates and major Indian multinations including Reliance, Tata Communications, Tata Consulting Services, Wipro and Happiest Minds. Other program elements, such as meeting at the Zone Start-up Incubator (inspired by Ryerson’s DMZ) and a reception for delegates hosted by the High Commissioner in Delhi, exposed our companies to many more Indian ICT enterprises and organizations. Additionally, thanks to MEDTIE and TCS, delegates also enjoyed a strong presence at the Convergence India Trade Show, one of the largest ICT trade shows in the country.
Collaboration with MEDTIE also proved to be a great asset, especially in recruitment. With 11 companies participating, this was the largest mission ITAC has conducted. Considerable ITAC resources – including a week of the CEOs time- are deployed to launch a trade mission. We believe that this investment achieves the best return with a mission of this size. While it is never easy recruiting MNE’s to meet Canadian trade missions, the larger the mission the more likely they are to invest the time. The elaborate logistical measures necessary for a mission of this design are also better rationalized by a larger mission.
Our objective going forward will be to collaborate as much as possible with Ontario and other provincial trade departments. The in-country resources that we met from the province of Quebec, for example, will help us ensure a well attended mission with broader national representation in the future.
Aside from some small logistical areas of improvement, ITAC considers this mission a success and a template for future mission design. It validated our view that a more “activist” approach to trade missions – where Canadian companies are brought to meet MNEs or other potential partners/customers in ther premises – nets a better result than focusing solely on B2B opportunities at trade shows. We believe a combination of both styles provides optimum result and we will factor these approaches into future mission design.
We also believe that our overall international business development strategy, which focuses on the Dubai and Indian markets exclusively, is also bearing results. Our relationships with well-connected market experts like Raj Narula have made an immeasurable contribution to the success of this mission. These relationships deepen and the network of contacts grows with each return visit. This allows us to grow the value that we can offer mission participants year over year.
Building on the Success in Dubai
We are hopeful that we can now establish a similar model for our work in the UAE and with DFATD support establish a brand for conducting effective ICT missions in these two important ICT markets. Above all we are proud to collaborate with DFATD and TCS in our international business development program and look forward to continuing to do so in the future.