CeBIT, Losing Its Clout

I think inevitably the influence of CeBIT is declining over the years. Undeniably, CeBIT is still the world's largest ICT Trade Fair but I just didn't feel like I walked into the cyclone of the digital world. It showcased a little bit of everything - a little bit of tablets, a little bit of communication, a littlebit of security, a little bit of cloud computing, a little bit of social media, and a little bit more on business applications, but hardly was there any stimulant strong enough to excite me. The show felt like a weak theme song with disappointing lyrics.

CeBIT, a little BIT of everything

I didn't see much coverage of the 6 - 10th March CeBIT Hannover on any online technology media like TechCrunch, AllthingsD or Wired. In fact, the launch of the new iPad in Cupertino on 7th March, easily received more attention. And if I am not mistaken, there weren't any star products using CeBIT as their launching platform.

There were, however, old boys like SAP, Microsoft, IBM and Intel that played it big and dominated some halls, while new boys like Google and Salesforce tagged along halfheartedly with moderate booths spaces. In recognition of this post PC era, PC giants like Dell and HP knew their place and played a much lower profile in CeBIT, while other PC big boys had shied away from the show.

Many influential big names were missing from CeBIT this year, which made the show less attractive. At its peak during the dot-com boom, CeBIT grossed visitors up to 850,000 and pulled almost 8,000 exhibitors, but declined half for both to 334,000 and 4,000 in 2010. With only 15% foreign and diversified visitors, exhibitors might not get their target audiences easily.

Some says that CeBIT is meant for B2B and it is not a consumer technology trade show like CES in the United States. They continue to argue that this is a good platform for CIOs to meet up, to exchange views and sharing experiences. If so, CeBIT is indeed a very expensive gathering event for the IT guys. IT guys are a bunch of people that could find all their stuff over the Internet, and communicate to the right personnel online.  For example, if their company wants to implement Cloud Computing ERP, they would know where to look for the right solution, where to do thorough research and comparison, and where to get a free trial before making any decisions.

CeBIT is obviously more focused on B2B, but when personal technology is becoming the trend of the digital world, business computing has to rethink on how to accommodate personal technology into their offices. For example, when fewer PCs and notebooks were sold, we had no doubt that more and more consumer gadgets like tablets, iPad and smartphones are appealing for office purpose. Since digital technologies have become a part of everyone's lifestyle and the convergence with consumer electronics, smart gadgets and the home entertainment market, the line for personal devices and office devices can no longer be drawn.

I finally found this Van Gogh's Sunflowers 
in Pinakothek Art Museum in Munich 
To visit Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg is a bonus 
When Norana told me to forego CeBIT due to its diversified audience, we decided not to take part last year after our first participation in 2010. But being the largest ICT trade fair on earth, I was still pulled by its magnet. Hence, I came to see for myself this year as a visitor with the hopes to get a first-hand feel and figure out how to reposition or to blend ourselves into it.

My interest waned after the visit, and I had to agree with Norana to drop the idea to rejoin the show entirely. What can visitors expect out of an IT Show when the leading companies from Silicon Valley show a lukewarm response while China companies overwhelm the exhibition halls?

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

I think inevitably the influence of CeBIT is declining over the years. Undeniably, CeBIT is still the world's largest ICT Trade Fair bu...