One week back I attended the largest ICT trade fair, the CeBIT in Hannover. Having been there in 2004, 2005 and 2007, I thought it’s about time in 2012 to go back and see how the IT sector is doing. This is my personal report.
There’s been talk about the fair struggling for multiple reasons. First of all, huge trade shows like this are no longer as important as they used to be and many companies prefer smaller private events (think Apple) or specialized conferences, such as the MWC for mobile or the CES or IFA for consumer electronics. Innovations and product announcements happen at those events, not at CeBIT, and even though I walked through the whole fairgrounds (and my legs still hurt thinking of it) I felt something is missing, compared to my last visit 5 years ago. There wasn’t any big trend, except maybe cloud computing, but that’s not really something tangible on a fair.
What CeBIT is definitely good for is to get an overview on how broad this whole IT field is and how many different people you can find, from the DIY nerds at the betahaus co-working space and pro gamers at the Intel World Championship in hall 23 over young bright startup geeks to the business and government people in suits and tie.
I was looking forward to Webciety, the place where I expected seeing “my” part of the IT sector, however I was disappointed since the area was small and the exhibitors were not very interesting. I can’t say anything about the conference part, since trying to see everything in one day didn’t leave time for sitting down and listening to presentations.
The public sector with universities and research groups (such as Fraunhofer) had a large presence on the fairground, especially in the CeBIT lab section, and they had some interesting products and concepts to show; from semantic workspaces over digital identity to connected television and Android security analysis.
My personal highlight, and what really made up for the rather disappointing parts, was the CODE_n booth. CODE_n was a startup contest under the banner “shapping mobile life” which sponsored their finalists an opportunity to present themselves at the booth. Me and my friend, with whom I went to Hannover, spent quite some time there. This booth had interesting products from semantic document management (blitzbox) over mobile payment systems (splendo) to new car sharing concepts (carzapp), but what really made the visit an awesome experience was the spirit of motivation among the exhibiting founders, and the fact that some products were still in early beta (I’m looking at you, ID-enter :-)) was rather likable.
Few other notable observations from my CeBIT visit were the fact that Google dedicated its whole presence to Google+ which resembles the whole way how they act as a company lately, wearing 3D glasses with head tracking is quite impressive (the head tracking part more than the 3D part) and that I seem to be personally incompatible with Microsoft Kinect. And also, scantily clad “booth babes” were a rarity on the fair; all except maybe 2-3 exhibitors preferred having their female staff wear professional attire or a simple company logo t-shirt. While I guess some may have been disappointed by this, I rather see it as a good thing that underlines the professional nature of the event.
What’s my conclusion?! Well, I think it was worth going, but I’m not sure if I’ll go again next year. Maybe again after few years, or when I’m an exhibitor myself :-)