Last month, I went on a week-long trip to Japan. This was the first trip I have made to the country since the earthquake and tsunami earlier in the year, and I was particularly interested in seeing how our customers and reseller partners were doing.
On the flight over, I noticed that only 2/3 of the seats in the airplane were occupied. I have been to Japan many times in my years at SolidWorks, and have never seen a plane that was less than full. However, one of the flight attendants told me that only a month earlier, most flights were only 1/3 full, and that they have been seeing a noticeable improvement in travel to and from Japan. So that gave me some small bit of hope.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, the supply of electricity continues to be a problem. As a result, the people in Tokyo and other affected areas are finding new ways to be resourceful. In all of the offices I visited, the air conditioner thermostats were set much higher than usual, and most of the elevators were completely shut down. Similarly, buildings are turning on fewer lights. And I was told that the schedules for Japan’s famous bullet trains will be changed over the summer to account for peak consumption periods.
Despite all of the challenges they are facing, I have to say that I was very impressed with the way the Japanese people have come together to move forward, and the emphasis on the greater good over personal comfort. For example, some big companies are asking employees to work on Saturday and Sunday instead of Thursday and Friday to help equalize power consumption throughout the week. There is also a system in place to alert citizens of danger via text message, which I discovered during dinner one night. As we were eating, several of my hosts’ phones alerted them that a wave of aftershocks were coming.
As I mentioned earlier, things appear to be returning to normal, especially in cities like Osaka. I visited one SolidWorks customer and was told that they were doing OK. I heard the same story at several other customers, and our reseller channel in Japan has been working actively with them to ensure that they have everything they need from a software and technology perspective.
One of the great things about the SolidWorks community—from customers to employees to resellers—is a spirit of innovation and invention, which is just what is needed in Japan right now. And after visiting, I’m feeling increasingly confident that Japan will come back stronger than it was before the disasters, and that the SolidWorks community will play a large role in that recovery.
If you have visited Japan recently, or work with anyone affected by the disaster, I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts as well.