Starting as a local Hanover Fair, CeBit over the past twenty years has matured into a mega event in ICT (Information and Communications Technology), surpassing even the much hyped COMDEX shows in the United States. As many visitors to both COMDEX and CeBit for years have observed, CeBit even manages to control the crowd much better than COMDEX!
Trade fairs constitute an important part of any industry. They bring businesses together, provide a launching pad for new products, give opportunities for end customers to get a taste of products and services, and bring the larger stakeholders such as governments face-to-face with the burning issues of industry. Naturally, every industry has developed a couple of key annual fairs, be it aerospace, automotive, chemicals, consumer electronics or tourism.
CeBit represents the supreme show for the growing ICT industry. We have the MAIT (Manufacturers Association of Information Technology) show and NASSCOM (National Association of Software & Services Companies) show in India; GiTex in Gulf countries; Comdex shows in USA and CeBit in Hanover, Germany.
IT for long has been dominated by the United States. It also was the main source of business for the Indian IT industry. Thus, Comdex (generally held at Las Vegas in fall and at other locations during spring) is more widely known in India. During the 80s and 90s, Comdex used to be a much-hyped event for product launches (processors like Pentium, systems like Presario, devices like Sony micro-vault, software like Informix Parallel server etc). But over the past couple of years, the “hoopla” has been missing.
The European markets had a better balance between computing and communications; the fair in Europe was more of an ICT (Information & Communications Technologies) fair than a mere IT fair. Also, CeBit has become a pan-European fair than a mere German event. With Indian software industry broad-banding its focus to look beyond the US (Europe now accounts for 21 per cent of Indian software exports, up from 4 per cent share a decade back), events like CeBit have become far more important.
CeBit is held every year in March, typically for a whole week. This year it was held during March 10-16, 2005. With an exhibition space of 308,881 square meter where 6,270 exhibitors displayed their hardware, software, solutions, and services, CeBit managed to attract 480,000 visitors from over 100 countries. With 308,881 square meters of space Germany did account for the major share of exhibition space. Taiwan with 777 stalls and 20,833 square meters of space was clearly the No 2! China had 310 stalls and 5,555 square meters of space, whereas Indian presence was miniscule with just 61 exhibitors and 781 square meters of space, not withstanding a special session on “Outsourcing”. As a nation we have a lot to catch up.
This year there were six themes (color coded in due German style of well organized events) – Business Processes, Communications, Digital Systems, Banking and Finance, Future Technologies and Public Sector. The emphasis on “Business Processes” session was on simplicity in enterprise software (ERP/CM/RM) and RFID integration. The “Communications” stalls had major technical “gizmos”; for example, Samsung handset with WCDMA and 7 mega-pixel camera. The “Digital Systems” stall had Samsung/SONY joint venture show-casing 82” LCD Monitor, LG demonstrating Plasma displays, Asus show casing world’s thinnest notebook computer, SONY showing off VAIO range of business note books, Novell launching SuSe Linux, and Sun launching its next version of Star Office. “Banking” sector was focusing on security and biometric solutions. The “Future Technologies” section had amazing variety of display systems, Blue-ray DVD discs, VoIP add on devices such as Siemens Skype USB adaptor, Intel launching second generation Centrino processor (code named Sonoma)
CeBit was just not a trade fair; it had a conference – ICT World Forum at CeBit – too, with 30 Keynote speakers, 250 corporate lectures and 100 VIP delegations from 27 countries. In the “Future” Section, there were several R & D Laboratories, University start ups and Research Institutions (though none from India)
That such large-scale shows can be handled without traffic jams serves a lesson for Indian urban planners, particularly those in Bangalore
(Financial Express Article April 1, 2005)