IT managers debate the death of CeBIT in the enterprise

IT managers debate the death of CeBIT in the enterprise

Dubbed the Paddy's market of IT

Arab Bank of Australia's head of IT, Greig Walmsley, describes the upcoming CeBIT trade show as the Paddy's market of IT.

Walmsley believes CeBIT has lost its relevance.

"There's a bit of everything everywhere, making it far too broad to be of interest to the enterprise," Walmsley said, adding that if he does attend it is for personal rather than business reasons.

"I'd say it would appeal more to uni students because it's travelling down the consumer line and there's too much junk to go through to get to products for the enterprise."

To be held from May 1-3, 2007 in Sydney, CeBIT is expected to showcase 700 exhibitors this year and attract 30,000 visitors.

However, IT professionals said this week the event really lacks ROI for enterprise buyers because there is so much on display for consumers such as mobile phones.

Waverly City Council IT manager, Guy Griffin, said he can get just as much value off the Internet than attending CeBIT.

"I used to go to these events because I would get useful information and brochures off the vendors; but now the net has all that and I can get it whenever I need it," Griffin said.

"Im not going to CeBIT this year basically because I don't like being in a room full of sales guys, I would rather go straight to a vendor specific show."

Merv Turner, IT manager at business communication and data outsourcer, HPA, said he gets his research from overseas events.

"No one here has expressed any interest in CeBIT because we get information feeds from our vendors and through our overseas research and development guys," Turner said, adding that his last visit to the trade show was a few years ago.

"It's no longer relevant to the enterprise and the Australian event doesn't have the same vendors or quality of the overseas event."

Size and scale are to blame for the show's lack of enterprise appeal, according to Martin Lack, director of ConferenceIT, which hosts specialized security, software and networking events.

He said conferences which hold less than 1,000 participants are more effective because they maintain close identification between speakers and delegates who typically share higher technical expertise.

"As soon as an event is bigger than 1100 people, it becomes a large conference which can hold up to 5000 delegates with twice as many speakers and session streams," Lack said

"The value proposition disappears for customers with specific problems and questions because there are hundreds of people in any session and the individual delegate struggles to talk to the speaker and they get lost in the multitude of sessions.

"It's also a pain for sponsors because they have to train to answer less technical questions and they rarely put on their best speakers."

Lack has recently capped a security conference at a limit of 1100, despite its surging popularity, in order to maintain intimacy and technical integrity, noting that specialized events attract high sponsorship revenues.

Another event that has suffered a similar problem is Comdex in the US.

The event closed in 2004 after exhibitors turned their backs on what became a sprawling, unfocused event.

While there are no signs that CeBIT is set to follow Comdex, anecdotal evidence suggests it is not the must-attend show it was previously.

Jackie Taranto, managing director of event organiser, Hannover Fairs Australia, said CeBIT provides a unique learning environment.

"If you are in business - whether you are an SME or major corporation - you will find something at CeBIT that will benefit you," she said.

"If you want to know where business is heading in the next decade, you must attend this event."

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