CeBIT shifts focus away from gadget launches
Visitors enter CeBIT Australia 2011. The 2012 event is hoping to showcase business solutions, not gadgets. Photo: Lucy Di Paolo LDP
Business decision makers, not boffins, are the target audience for vendors and service providers preparing to unleash a three-day marketing and sales extravaganza at CeBIT Australia 2012.
Opening in Darling Harbour, Sydney, on May 22, the trade show is Asia Pacific's largest, with more than 520 exhibitors expected to put in a showing at this year's event; up marginally from 512 in 2011.
Jackie Taranto, chief executive officer, CeBIT Australia, said organisers had worked hard in recent years to move away from its historical focus as a launch pad for the latest in product technology to become a showcase for business solutions.
As a result, the event was hoping to attract more senior managers and C-Suite executives - chief executives, chief information officers, heads of finance, operations, human resources and the like - looking for an intensive information dump, Taranto said.
"It's a three-day download of the state of play in the ICT industry," Taranto said.
In addition to the acres of exhibits, CeBIT is running seven conference streams: mobile, eHealth, eGovernment, social enterprise, cloud, online retail and AusInnovate.
"There's not really another show that focuses on the whole aspect of technology," Taranto said.
"We have years that go up and down with participation and attendance but at the end of the day people who are looking to make enterprise decisions want to look across a spectrum of services and solutions."
James New, marketing manager, Citrix, Asia Pacific, said the opportunity to access this business audience justified the $22,000 price tag of a modest stand.
"CeBIT is bringing more business decision makers, not just IT people," New said.
"IT people don't tend to be the drivers of change."
Business people from smaller concerns tended to visit the show on their own, while senior staff from large organisations were typically escorted by their IT folk, New said.
Sam Hendry, general manager, AVG, Australia and New Zealand, Sam Hendry agreed. The internet security vendor shells out $75,000 every year for a prominent stand in a prime location. Hendry said it was money well spent if it continued to generate the 3000 leads the company has come to expect.
"Although it's a big investment, it gives us a chance to talk to business users and resellers face to face [...] we can't get to see and talk to that many people anywhere else," Hendry said.
"It's also good to see and talk with competitors and to explore partnering opportunities. So the benefits are intangible, but real."
Along with the rest of the high tech sector, CeBIT is susceptible to the vicissitudes of the economy at large and the post-GFC years have seen many exhibitors tightening their belts and reducing the size of their displays.
This year though many of the larger players were feeling confident enough to spread out a little, with the likes of Dell, Hewlett Packard, Telstra, Samsung, LG and Panasonic upsizing their stands in the exhibition halls, Taranto said.
CeBIT drew 30,843 visitors in 2011 and is hoping for a similar turn-out this year. The audience is expected to include around 2000 international visitors from the Asian and Asia Pacific regions, with India, Singapore, Indonesia and The Philippines expected to make a strong showing.
Registration costs $40 in advance, or $90 during the event, while a conference gold pass providing access to up to three conferences is priced at $1795.