The annual CeBit fair has always been the BIG one to kick off the European season of events with 27 halls totalling nearly 500,000 square meters of exhibitors – all aspects of technology in the German market are on display. I am not sure what the attendance numbers will be, but most of it looked reasonably busy, and my unscientific sampling method suggested that attendees were there in the IT halls because they believed they needed to know more about the ‘new’ technologies and approaches now coming into the market. That’s interesting because attendance at events had been dropping as it seemed not so important to be there to see the usual range of products. Silicon Valley was there in force with fifty companies led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to announce that California was the ‘partner state for CeBit in 2009. A theme he presented with suitable enthusiasm in his speech complete with references to the weak falling away in these challenging times and the strong driving through to grow and take over their share of the market. However I thought I could see a different divide from the weak and the strong, both in the halls, but much more clearly evident in the attendance for the presentations on the conference stream. Attendance at presentations of the biggest and best names in the business was embarrassingly low; attendance at other sessions on a relatively wide range of topics was by contrast, good to high. I can find no URL to list the presenters to show you what was on offer, but it covered Microsoft on Green IT, SAP on Business Suite 7, through to Intel and Amazon with some of the newer topics, so there was a big range. Yup, I was on stage too, focussing on how to build a business-led vision of how technology can enable your business, and how to select the three areas of innovation that can pay off; Capgemini Technovision. After my time on stage I was told, but have no verification, that I pulled in nearly three times as many attendees as a household software name had the previous day. It seemed there was low interest in anything which was thought by the attendees to mean a traditional IT project requiring a big budget, and therefore Capital Expenditure, CapEx, against high interest in anything which was small and quick to achieve. Or best of all, anything that came supplied as a service, or in increments, that could be paid for out of Operating Expenditure, OpEx. (BTW, I think some of the conclusions about some of the household names still being only able to make ‘big’ implementations were wrong, as they are all featuring ‘fast and flexible’ approaches, even sometimes with financing – see my comments later on). Having some discussions with those interested let me build up some common insights into this.
- Small High Impact – making a direct difference in business activities is what people were searching for, and they were prepared to try these things by using a virtual machine on Amazon, or similar SaaS, as this was quick and painless to set up.
- If it doesn’t work, you can get out quick as you have no fixed investment, on the other hand if it works then you can scale up extremely quickly with no problems.