Magazine article Information Today

Database Tokyo Exhibition Draws Throngs

Magazine article Information Today

Database Tokyo Exhibition Draws Throngs

Article excerpt

Nearly 40,000 attendees gathered at the modern Tokyo International Forum last September 17-19. Was it the Japanese counterpart to COMDEX? No. Could it really have been an information industry meeting? Yes, it was Database `97 Tokyo! Since its inception in 1989, this show has drawn huge crowds and an impressive roster of exhibitors. Unfortunately, there is no conference track to accompany the exhibition.

Database `97 Tokyo was organized by the Database Promotion Center of Japan (DPC), the Japan Database Industry Association (DINA), and Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. The Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Japan Electronic Industry, the Kansai Database Association, the Information Industry Association (IIA), and the European Information Industry Association (EIIA) were just five of more than 25 leading Japanese and international agencies, ministries, and associations that supported the exhibition.

This year's meeting attendance of 37,259 represented an increase of 10 percent over last year, which is in keeping with an eight-year tradition of growth. More than 100 exhibitors occupied 260 booths in the 55,000-square-foot exhibit hall. The registration fee was a whopping $8.50, plus $5.00 for an exhibitors program!

Let's put this in perspective. Fall `97 COMDEX attracted about 210,000 attendees to examine more than 10,000 wares being shown by 2, 1 00 exhibitors, and Bill Gates keynoted the gathering. But that is not the information industry. The 1997 National Online Meeting (NOM '97), sponsored by Information Today, Inc., attracted 7,200 participants and over 160 exhibitors, primarily from the U.S. and Canada. The 1996 International Online Meeting (IOLM '96), sponsored by Learned Information, Ltd., attracted over 300 exhibitors, 1,200 delegates, and 18,000 attendees. IOLM is routinely described as the world's largest information meeting with seminars and exhibits. Albeit predominantly European, it has a much more international flavor than its North American counterparts. How many people were previously aware of Database 97 Tokyo, with its nearly 40,000 attendees and a rich Pacific Rim flavor?

The Look, the Feel, and the Scope

Before commenting on the value of Database 97 Tokyo, we need to take a tour of the hall. A fast and efficient subway ride from my hotel to the impressive Tokyo International Forum started my morning. The atmosphere was less chaotic than it is at many U.S. shows, perhaps because attendees did not have to juggle seminars and exhibits. There was a steady flow of attendees throughout the day.

Some booths were elaborate, others more spartan. Many had staff in the aisles distributing brightly colored literature and conference give-aways. The atmosphere was more festive than at most Western shows. While Japanese was the dominant language, I had no trouble communicating in English and getting the assistance I needed. I occasionally had to wait briefly while an English-speaking colleague was located. Unfortunately, most of the literature was almost entirely in Japanese.

While most sectors of the information industry were represented, a surprising number of vendors featured software. Mapping software, patent analysis software, and patent retrieval software were prevalent. Fifty-six exhibitors sold bibliographic database products, including newswires, scientific files, and humanities files. Twenty-five booths demonstrated technology and services for the production, dissemination, and use of databases. Thirteen exhibitors sold mapping software, and nine sold patent products.

Earlier in the week, my penchant for gadgets took me to Tokyo's Akihibara district, a mouth-watering market for all types of electronic equipment. I was intrigued by the GPS mapping devices. During my stay, I rode in more than one taxi with an elaborate GPS system to better navigate the maze of Tokyo streets. It was based on databases linking GPS data to navigational and geographical information. …

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