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CeBIT grows again thanks to new focus and Digital Economy theme

Digital economy driven by Information, Innovation and Inspiration attracts more exhibitors and visitors in 2015
–Brian Pereira
Twitter: @brian9p
CeBIT Stats
CeBIT stats

The just concluded CeBIT 2015 tech event in Hannover Germany (16 – 20 March) was regarded as one of the better editions in recent years. And it was a bigger CeBIT than last year’s edition. This was due to a mix of factors – business focus, the digitalization theme, an increase in the number of exhibitors and visitors; a lot of exhibitors opting for their own stands; exhibitors increasing and even doubling their space; large number of returning exhibitors; new and inspirational conference topics; an impressive line-up of speakers, and increasing international participation.

Addressing the media on 17th March, at CeBIT, Oliver Frese, Member of the Managing Board Deutsche Messe, Hannover, Germany said the change in focus for CeBIT and harnessing the potential of digitization paid off well.

“CeBIT 2015 is the first event since 2001 that is larger than it was in the previous year. This year’s event had 8,000 square meters more space than it had in 2014. This is an increase in space by 5 – 6 percent,” said Frese.

Going by the figures in the just released post show report, the number of visitors this year was 201,000 (up 6 percent over 2014). This year there were 3,300 exhibitors from 70 countries.

Going by the figures in the just released post show report, the number of visitors this year was 220,000 (up 6 percent over 2014). This year there were 3,300 exhibitors from 70 countries.

New concept

Oliver Frese, Member of the Managing Board Deutsche Messe, Hannover, Germany
Oliver Frese, Member of the Managing Board Deutsche Messe, Hannover, Germany

“Exactly a year ago I explained to you the new concept for CeBIT – IT, Business, 100%. This concept has brought in a much-needed change in perception of CeBIT. The B2B focus of CeBIT is a complete success. In year two of the new CeBIT we are seeing the results of the new concept,” said Frese, who is regarded as a CeBIT head honcho.

CeBIT has changed its focus many times over the years. In the 1970s, when it was part of the Hannover Fair, the focus was on office automation. In the 80s, the focus shifted to Information Technology and Telecommunications. CeBIT spun out as an independent show from 1986 onwards. In the 90s, there was a lot of focus on the Internet and gadgets. In fact, there was once another show with a consumer focus called CeBIT Home, now discontinued after 1999. In those days, CeBIT attracted many students and general visitors. The show changed its focus once again last year and became a pure B2B show focussing on business visitors. This year, there was also a focus on startups

Topics, themes

During the CeBIT preview held in January this year, the CeBIT team carefully selected topics to address both market requirements and themes for the exhibition floor. This year the key theme was Diconomy (Digital Economy) and the topics were selected to offer visitors information on this theme. CeBIT identified three pillars that are driving the digital economy: Information, Innovation, and Inspiration.

Frese said this careful selection in topics has resulted in an increase in exhibitors and visitors coming to CeBIT. In fact, CeBIT 2015 was larger than the 2014 edition.

“With regard to topics, three things are essential and considered the main pillars: Information, Innovation, and Inspiration.”

Diconomy is the key theme

Commenting on why CeBIT chose the Diconomy (Digital Economy) theme this year Frese said Germany has recognized that digitization will be the driving force behind future economic growth for nations.

“Data will be the fuel to the economy’s engine. Diconomy, which is the key theme for CeBIT, has a direct impact on the competitiveness of national economies. It also affects all companies and anyone who doesn’t start digitizing today will be left behind or will disappear from the market. Digitization as a strategy issue affects the entire value chain, not just the IT department. It calls for strategic involvement of the top management and every department in the organization,” said Frese.

He referred to disrupters like Uber and Airbnb who have embraced digitisation and created new business models in a short span of time.

Security

While visiting the expo we noticed many security companies exhibiting at CeBIT, especially in Hall 6. And the third day of the conference had many sessions with topics on security and privacy. There were on-stage interviews and panels with key figureheads in the world of security and privacy: Kevin Mitnick, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Vincent Steckler, Christian Liflander and Natalya Kaspersky (to name a few prominent ones).

“The exhibition area for Security has increased, with more than 550 security companies participating this year. This makes it the largest security exhibition in Europe,” informed Frese. “Awareness for security has increased and it is one of the main topics at the show. Other important themes at CeBIT are cloud computing, mobility, social business, and big data.”

Innovation

The second pillar that drives the digital economy is Innovation, and this comes mainly from the startup companies. This year, there was much focus on startups at CeBIT, with three concurrent startup events in three halls. At CeBIT Global Conferences, there were startup pitch sessions and startup panels.

“We have created an ecosystem for startup companies with more than 150 of them participating. And we have three hotspots for startups at CeBIT: universities and research organizations are in Hall 9, the code_n international competition in Hall 16 with the theme into the Internet of Things, and Scale 11, CeBIT’s own startup show. In addition, we have workshops and accelerator programs involving venture capitalists and financial experts,” said Frese.

Inspirational conference content

CGCUndoubtedly, the biggest attraction at CeBIT was CeBIT Global Conferences (CGC) that was conducted in Hall 8. With stimulating content and an excellent line-up of topics and speakers, CGC attracted many visitors. CGC was the Inspirational pillar of the Digital Economy theme.

Fese said: “…more than 200 international speakers at CeBIT Global Conferences. We had SAP CEO Bill McDermott, Xiaomi Founder Lei Jun, Dr. Vishal Sikka, CEO, Infosys, Dr. Won-Pyo Hong, Samsung Electronics, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and others. So CeBIT is sexy on account of its content, with a list of prominent contributors.”

China is partner country

China
China as partner country


CeBIT events worldwide have a concept of partner country, and this year China was selected to be the partner country for CeBIT 2015 in Hannover. Frese said China has been the strongest partner country ever for CeBIT.

“The U.S. is still strong with nearly Euro 2,500 capital investment in IT. This is much more than Germany, which has Euro 1,500 capital investment in IT. But the situation is changing and we are seeing a shift towards the East; there are more than 1,000 Asian exhibitors here are CeBIT. In China, 50 percent of all newly founded companies are players in the digital area. The country is investing 2 percent of its GDP in research and development, and the major focus is on IT. Enterprises such as Huawei and ZTE are among the front-runners in the network equipment market. Xiaomi is a company that has been around for only five years and has already become the world’s fifth largest manufacturer of smartphones. And these three (Chinese) companies join more than 600 other Chinese firms here at CeBIT. So China is the strongest partner country that CeBIT has (ever) had, and it will be very prominent throughout the show.”

The Chinese dominance at CeBIT was seen at the opening ceremony itself with keynote addresses by top Chinese politicians. And Alibaba Founder Jack Ma, who was the star of the evening, delivered a keynote address. The Chinese pavilion was prominent in Hall 6, but we found Chinese exhibitors in some other halls too.

Conclusion

Outdoors
CeBIT visitors enjoy the spring

Well, everything turned out fine at CeBIT 2015 — even the weather improved by the third day! Visitors could be seen enjoying the warmth of the spring at the Messagelande – the grounds where all the business fairs are held in Hannover. If that’s a good sign for CeBIT, the figures in the post-show report will affirm that.

The next CeBIT will be held in Australia, 5 – 7 May at the Sydney Olympic Park. Then there’s a CeBIT happening in Turkey (CeBIT Bilişim Eurasia ) and in Brazil (BITS) later this year.

But if you are from India, there’s a CeBIT happening on home turf — just come over to Bengaluru for CeBIT India (29 – 31 October, 2015).

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The writer visited and reported on the CeBIT Hannover show in 1996, 2008 and 2015.
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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira has over two decades of journalism experience. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India. You can write to Brian at: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

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