Business And Markets

Elecomp 2014 Ends on Mixed Note

Elecomp 2014 Ends on Mixed NoteElecomp 2014 Ends on Mixed Note

The 20th edition of the international exhibition of electronics, computer and e-commerce, known as Elecomp, started on December 7 to let computer and electronic experts, academics, technology fans, as well as computer geeks get a glimpse of the most recent achievements in the field.

Elecomp 2014 started with an altercation between the Iranian ICT Guild Organization (IIG) and the Iran International Exhibitions Company. The IIG, which organized the biggest computer exhibition in Iran in 2004 and 2010, did all it could do to once again be given the official permission to organize the event. Finally, the IIG won the fierce competition and outpaced the other rivals that were also eager to organize the Elecomp, as it is one of the most profitable exhibitions for the organizers.

Just two weeks ahead of the major exhibition, the IIG announced it needed more time and officially asked for the postponement of the Elecomp 2014. But the Exhibitions Company rejected the request and appointed the Iranian Information and Communications Technology Organization Assembly (IICTOA) as the alternative organizer.          

After all the dispute, Elecomp started on Sunday attended by more than 300 firms from Iran and foreign companies from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, China, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, and Japan. The general atmosphere of this year’s Elecomp was obviously influenced by the arguments and conflicts between the former and the newly-appointed organizers, the most obvious sign of which was the absence of the ICT minister at the inauguration ceremony.  

The confusion among the exhibitors on where and how to enroll for Elecomp 2014 made a considerable number of them work on their trade-show booths create last minute display stands. After 20 editions of Elecomp held during the past years, such confusion is definitely a blind spot for this major tech fair. The chaos even drew the ire of government officials, and it was Nasrollah Jahangard, the deputy ICT minister, who said that as of next year, the two major ICT exhibitions in the country, Elecomp and Telecom, will merge into one. But, Mehrdad Zamanabadi, a private sector computer programmer at Elecomp 2014, told the Financial Tribune that the merger is not logical as the two events are different in nature plus the fact that Telecom has a permanent organizer that has always organized the event on time and in the best way possible.

 Everything Online

“Everything Online” was the slogan picked for Elecomp 2014, which showcased the latest technologies in the fields of the computer hardware and software industry, network security, telecommunications, and e-government.

Strategic planning for implementing the e-government project aims at saving time and costs, easing the burden of bureaucracy on citizens, and fighting corruption, an official from the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company, whose company is the sole provider of telecommunication infrastructure to all private and public operators in Iran, told the Financial Tribune at the fair.

E-government enables all government services to be accessible through several access channels like digital TV, call centers and the Internet. The e-government structure consists of two main parts, namely a back office and front office. In the back office, services and information are prepared to present in the front office services. Security systems for protecting the government, interoperability, communication standards and one-stop-portal are the essential parts of back office. For developing e-government some basic essentials must be taken into consideration, including one-stop-portal, interoperability, security and public access.

During the past decade, progress has been achieved in the country. Currently, citizens are required to fill in all their municipality applications and follow up the bureaucratic works through special centers run by the private sector. Applications for construction permits from the municipalities as well as car taxes, for instance, are among the services provided by such centers called e-government offices. Applying for passports, passport renewals, applying for duplicate identity cards, and renewal of driver’s licenses are also accessible in special offices supervised by the police.

Based on official bylaws, all the ministries and government organizations and agencies are required to have official websites through which the clients can follow up their bureaucratic affairs.

According to the 20-Year Vision Plan (ending 2025), Iran is expected to become the first country in the Middle East in applying ICT in government processes to improve information and services delivery to citizens and businesses. The e-government aims to provide convenient access for all government information and services, improving public services, downsizing the government and increasing its flexibility, and reducing bureaucracy throughout official processes.

In addition to e-government, banks have also been forced by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) not to accept the payment of electricity, natural gas, telephone, and water bills from the customers with people made to pay them either online or through automated teller machines (ATMs).

 Fake Guarantees

A lack of guarantee for ICT products are a big issue many visitors at Elecomp 2014. Affected by the tough sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations and the western countries, the ICT market in Iran has been disconnected from the rest of the world. Although products such as cell phones, computers, gadgets, etc. are not listed among the items prohibited for export to Iran, the importers and distributors of the electronic items are unable to directly import them or become the official agents or representatives for a brand. The ICT products in the market are either smuggled into the country or officially imported from China.

A recent shocking comment by the deputy chairman of the Headquarters for Campaign against Goods and Currency Smuggling revealed that 90% of all the cell phones currently being sold across the country have been smuggled. Alireza Bayat went further by saying that many representative companies are directly engaged in the smuggling process.

The amazing point is that the majority of the products in the market are sold by guarantees valid as long as several years. The customers, when buying a cell phone for instance, have two options ahead. They can either buy the phone with or without guarantee. The wise decision is to select the first option. But as soon as something, whether a software or a hardware problem, happens to the phone; the guarantee seems to be nothing more than a hologram for which the customer has been charged dozens of extra dollars.

“I agree that the customers are suffering from the chaos regarding the fake or baseless guarantees, but there are also companies that are committed to their guarantees,” Mohammadreza Talaei, the executive secretary of Elecomp 2014, told the Financial Tribune. “We even announced the list of the most successful companies regarding customer satisfaction and some high standards have been achieved here.”

The official expressed hope that a national program led by the government and supported and supervised by the private sector could end the fake guarantees. Meanwhile, some market analysts say the lifting of sanctions would enable the famous brands to have their own representatives in the country and the customer will then be able to benefit from the advantages of genuine guarantees.