Designers, manufacturers, and vendors are continually trying to extend their reach into “emerging markets,” and I suspect that’ll be the case until there are no more markets left to emerge. Although in that case, they will probably start talking about “re-emerging markets.”
In many cases, it takes a real commitment from a government to transform its country into a technology player. Without that commitment, it’s almost impossible to get a grassroots movement to move in an upward direction. To some extent, buy-in from a few of the larger companies in the world can help expedite the process.
Depending on the markets and applications you serve, different countries can be at varying states of “emergence.” For example, in the electronics space, China is far beyond the emerging state, and India is mostly in the same boat, although there are definitely differences between the two. The biggest difference is that India has more resources in the software space than in hardware.
I’ve long been a proponent of the Eastern European counties as the next place to emerge. However, I was somewhat caught off guard by the emergence of Brazil over the past couple of years. It’s a place where embedded software is being developed in a big way. It’s also a region where there is a fair amount of medical device development and manufacturing going on.
What led me to think down the path of “who, what, and where” are the emerging countries was a discussion I had at the recent NI Week conference (early August, in Austin, Texas). National Instruments announced a program called Planet NI, the goal of which is to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship in developing countries (clearly you have to “develop” before you can emerge).
In the company’s own words: “Planet NI is an initiative designed to empower engineers and students in developing countries to achieve economic prosperity and sustainable development through access to NI technology.”
In the same way that many vendors put their tools, software, and so on, into the hands of university students, NI is making its technology available to designers in these developing countries. Initially, it's targeting designers in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, the Philippines, Cameroon, and Nigeria.
Clearly, there’s a financial reason for such an undertaking -- to eventually make paying customers out of these folks. If a few of them turn out to be big customers, the goal is realized.
Before the fan mail starts to pour in, I want to be clear that NI is far from the only vendor doing outreach like this. it's merely the one that put the bug in my ear recently. Another fine example comes from DuPont. That firm has a long history of active participation in the communities in which it operates, including volunteer efforts, grants, educational programs, and sponsorships. This includes underwriting education programs that benefit students of all levels, as well as teachers and laboratory researchers.
What’s your take? Tell us in the comments section below.