IN-DEPTH: CeBIT is not what it once was but it’s still the world’s biggest computer conference. Here is the story of 2017 and why next year will be different
CeBIT today might be a far cry from its peak at the turn of the millennium, but with more than 200,000 visitors, 3, 000 exhibitors (including 450 startups and 200 speakers in attendance at CeBIT 2017), it’s still the world’s largest technology exhibition.
The whole event spans more than 18 halls at the Hannover fairground, the world’s largest exhibition venue, each one filled to the rafters with businesses of all sizes trying to convince visitors they are leading the way in the digital economy.
In total, CeBIT encompasses 6,000 square metres, so what exactly did the 2017 edition of the event have to offer?
CeBIT 2017 centred on exploring the key trends associated with digital transformation and as you would expect, the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, cyber security and the Internet of Things (IoT) were heavily represented.
The Business Security hall was consistently the busiest, unsurprising given the current threat landscape where businesses and governments alike are fighting a cyber battle against opponents armed with increasing levels of sophistication, resources and financial incentive.
A few weeks ago at RSA 2017 Silicon suggested that we could soon be seeing the start of a security revolution and, although we’re not ready to laud over our predictive genius just yet, the importance of cyber security and the interest around the latest innovations was plain to see.
This was epitomised by the attention being given to the so-called ‘next generation’ technologies that rely on complex machine learning and AI software to detect and predict attacks, which leads us nicely onto another key trend that dominated conversations at CeBIT; the convergence of IoT, data analytics and AI.
Separately, these three technologies have been crucial pillars of digital transformation and the growth of ‘industry 4.0’ but they are now increasingly being used together to provide meaningful insights for businesses and society.
Huawei, for example, showcased it’s Intelligent Operations Centre for smart cities, which tracks people and vehicles and monitors city operations. Through complex data mining and analytics software, it facilitates faster response times for emergency services, optimises routes for public transport and increases public safety throughout the city.
And Huawei isn’t the only company going down this route. IBM has an Intelligent Operations Center of its own to help manage complex city environments, ZTE unveiled its Smart Street 2.0 platform to help city administrators transform public services, Hitachi was showcasing its concept of Society 5.0 and there were many other examples of connected devices and systems designed to make our lives easier.