CEBIT 2018 transformed from a computer trade fair to “Europe’s Business Festival for Innovation and Digitization”. In its first edition, the new CEBIT provided a first-hand account of opportunities and difficulties in digital transformation. Other mega-exhibitions will have to watch closely; they still have this step ahead of them.

Let’s be honest: who is still keen to attend a classical sales fair? Standing around for days, tedious conversations with hundreds of visitors, product demos non-stop, an unhealthy diet, back pains and, when its over, returning home with a massive cold.

There are easier and much nicer ways to get leads.

Exhibitions can do more.

The HIMSS Global Conference in the US for example, shows how business events can take a different approach. It is the world’s largest digital health conference and exhibition with 50,000 visitors and 1,375 exhibitors.

The HIMSS event has never been a classic trade fair, despite the over-sized stands, a long waiting list for exhibitors and a point system for the preferred allocation of space. Instead, it is the high-profile conference that attracts the masses – and consequently the exhibitors. Keynote speakers include Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and “Magic Johnson” who talks about his experience with HIV and digital healthcare.

Add to that the countless networking events, online streaming, virtual conferencing and eLearning channels as well as a worldwide broadcasting media machinery. The HIMSS Global Conference is a holistic communication, innovation, education, and networking platform; its reach widely exceeds the timely and geographical limits of the actual event.

That creates benefits. That engages customers. That delivers sales. What more to ask for?

That’s why the new CEBIT is great

With its new concept, CEBIT is following in the footsteps of such modern events. The focus lies on visitors’ needs. Their requirements have changed massively. It’s not just the Millennials who demand the emotional experience as well as ratio, business sense and human bonding, the sound of money and the sound of music.

Numerous exhibitors tailored their event presence to the new concept. SAP, INTEL, IBM, Salesforce, Vodafone, VW or Huawei got it right and are the pillars for the future success of CEBIT. Hopefully they will persuade other companies to support the transformation of CEBIT. Because they too need to understand:  customers have changed, the trade fair has transformed and now they must adapt.

Or, as my former colleague from Nuance Communications used to say, “We are here at HIMSS to do business. But we are also here to have fun. And we are here because we are nice people to deal with. ”

In this sense I applaud to the makers of CEBIT for their courage to change and wish them a successful second edition of the new CEBIT in 2019!

Images: Deutsche Messe AG, Hannover.
Top: d!talk, the new CEBIT provides engaging content.
Middle: Intel: Drones and Volocopters – tangible innovations.
Bottom: Festival and business meetings in the SAP-wheel