CeBIT never fails to fascinate. It has wowed its visitors with many premieres over the years, such as Vocaltech’s demo of voice-over IP in free telephone calls to Africa in 1994 and the newest UMTS mobile telephones in 2003, to name but a few. This year will be no different. Visitors will once again be treated to “a wide range of innovations and technological advancements – all waiting to be discovered and experienced in a real-time, hands-on environment.” The event is also “an excellent platform for business partners to network with providers and other users,” says Hans-Werner Feick, manager of Kienbaum Management Consultants. Yet the analyst also believes the event’s managers need to gear the exhibition more strongly to specific target groups, to ensure that CeBIT remains attractive in the future.
Gabriele Rittinghaus, manager of Finaki Deutschland, focuses on the target group of CIOs. She runs the House of CIOs network and, having been a regular CeBIT visitor for the past 27 years, knows that there are some discussion partners you can always count on meeting “there and only there.” This year, for example, she’ll be meeting up with Daniel Hartert, chairperson and CEO of Bayer Business Services. He, too, sees CeBIT as a place where he can have “very focused and effective” meetings with the IT people who are important to him and his network. Hartert will speak at the House of CIOs booth along with other IT bosses. Peter Kraus, head of information technology at ZF Group and ZF Friedrichshafen, agrees: “The real decision-makers need to be part of CeBIT – that’s why we set up the House of CIOs.” When asked about attendance at CeBIT, which has reportedly been declining for several years now, Kraus merely commented, “As the saying goes, ‘Those condemned to die live longer.’”
Broader event base essential for decision-makers
“In my opinion, CeBIT’s reputation as the leading German trade fair has gone up again in recent years,” explains Dirk Olufs, CIO Europe region, at DHL Express. He believes that CeBIT has recognized the need, especially among those making business decisions, for broader coverage of products and topics at the fair. This year, Olufs is particularly interested in finding out “how the current big trends in IT – such as Big Data and mobile business applications – are reflected in ‘real’ business applications.”
For Hagen Radowski, the main focus will be on SAP HANA. He is a partner at IT service provider Mieschke Hofmann und Partner, and will be speaking at the automotive IT congress about industry-relevant use cases of SAP HANA. Radowski would like to see the exhibition offer “industry showcases in addition to pure technology showcases” in the future.
Exhibitor Henrik Hausen, CEO of Alpha Business Solutions, agrees that it’s time to rethink the concept of trade fairs such as CeBIT. As he sees it, “Nowadays there are more contacts and indeed, more interesting contacts made in the period leading up to the event than at the event itself.” Hausen nevertheless expects a positive course of business at CeBIT 2013. He assumes that a lot of industry specialists visiting the fair are planning projects and have specific interests.
Personal business plays a significant role
Holger Behrens, CEO of Cormeta AG, expects the quality of visitors and attendance numbers at his booth to be on par with previous years. “Personal business still plays a major role in medium-sized companies,” says Behrens. He believes that CeBIT still brings together the most important players in the market.
Next page: From exhibition to recruiting platform
Andreas Pauls, manager at Itelligence Deutschland, also focuses on medium-sized business. This year, he plans to show his customers a key innovation in corporate management, using tried-and-tested industry solutions. “Our offerings in the new AddStore improve the use of SAP solutions very quickly and very precisely,” says Pauls.
CeBIT as recruiting platform
According to Rüdiger Spies, Independent Vice President of Enterprise Applications at IDC Central Europe, the hot topics at CeBIT 2013 will range from “shareconomy” – in other words, everything to do with social media and social marketing – to cloud computing, security, and once again, mobility, “which are the cornerstones of IT this year,” he says. He sees the exhibition’s biggest strength in its role as marketplace: “People meet face to face here – it is the biggest arena for exchanging ideas and business cards, making contacts, sharing plans for the future, talking about employment opportunities, and so on.” And according to Spies, this applies at least to the IT industry in Europe, if not worldwide. As for the job market, Rittinghaus adds that it is great to see so many companies now using CeBIT as a recruiting platform. “It clearly shows how the exhibition has evolved,” she states.
Thomas Noth, CIO of German insurance company Talanx AG, hits the nail on the head: “CeBIT offers a wide range of topics, covers all the interrelationships between those topics, and enables and encourages the exchange of information. As long as CeBIT keeps its finger on the pulse of the market and continues to evolve, it will always be important.”