CEBIT 2018: New event format for technology trends
(11-15 June Hanover)
In recent years, CeBIT has repeatedly suffered from negative criticism. With a bold step, the CeBIT format was modernized and adapted to new target groups. I was curious to see what awaited me.
This year, the organizers themselves spoke of the "new CeBIT", heralding a more modern event culture. My personal highlight was the combination of traditional exhibition stands with a festival feel. A fair can and should be fun and between the discussions and appointments at the stands, it’s great to get a little sun and listen to the music on stage for a while.
However, visitors first have to get used to the new format - if you're used to walking through the halls at a hectic pace and under time pressure, in the future it would be better to plan one or two more days to get the full experience, to dedicate yourself to the many exhibitor "gaming" offers and to get to know the content in a lighthearted way. Gen Y is just different.
The evening program is especially interesting for exhibitors. Special highlights such as a Ferris wheel and various entertainment programs (including concerts by Mando Diao and Jan Delay) gave the fair a festival feeling.
Nevertheless, especially among the traditional exhibitors, the desire for more visitors and bad weather to drive visitors back into the halls was triggered. In future, this will require cooperation between organizers and exhibitors in order to better address the target groups. In addition to the pure quantity, however, the quality of the visitors is decisive, because what exhibitors also do not like are "goodie hunters" and ballpoint pen collectors.
Why the change of heart at CeBIT?
In a study by EBS University for Economics and Law in cooperation with Messe Frankfurt, the participant behavior of Millennials at a trade fair was examined. The "Fear Of Missing Out" factor in particular was apparent. The fear of missing out on something seems to be particular to those born after 1990, which is why trade fairs and organizers have to be more experience-oriented. Besides the fear of missing out on something, this generation also has the general fear of living offline (FOLO). To overcome these uncertainties, new impulses must be inspired at events that give this generation the opportunity to develop. Although Millennials feel at home on social media platforms and have networks that span the globe online, it is difficult for most to take the first step in offline communication. Here again, organizers must act as mediators and playfully integrate the young audience with digital functionality.
Based on these findings, the new concept of CeBIT makes sense. The younger, tech-native audience must be offered more. The mere presentation of new technologies is no longer sufficient to be successful as a trade fair and to generate high visitor numbers. Trends and digital developments must be central to meet customer expectations. This is the only way to create a successful customer experience.
The atmosphere of an event must have a positive influence on the visitors' feelings and persuade with extraordinary highlights. This includes evening entertainment programs, networking at parties and a musical supporting program. Experience-oriented unique selling points must make a trade fair unique and still make it a qualified contact point for specialist personnel.
The current trends in the industry were given room and application examples were shown on a large scale. Robotics, business intelligence and big data in particular were frequently discussed topics. AI (artifical intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) were the main topics from which many areas of application were derived. The focus was on the importance of automated, intelligent data processing methods and machine learning. Comprehensive potentials and application possibilities of sensor technologies, hand tendon recognition or cloud computing were emphasized and emphasized for almost all industries. The presentation of these new technologies made it clear that hardly any area of work and everyday culture is not subject to digital change.
In the future, AI in particular will increasingly ensure the automation of intelligent, machine-based behavior, creating human-like decision-making structures that can make customer-oriented predeterminations when dealing with large data sets.
This intelligent data processing will also find its way into the events industry. The potential behind the new information technology processes not only serves to improve customer journeys, but also the handling of CRM systems. Trade fairs and event centers have a large number of different customers, participants and exhibitors whose needs can be perfectly met with intelligent data analysis.
What can the event industry learn from CeBIT?
From my point of view, two important conclusions for the event industry can be drawn from this year's CeBIT. In addition to the fact that a generational change is taking place among the workforce and trade fairs have to realign themselves accordingly, the new technology factor is just as decisive.
The developments presented show how important data in combination with AI are and how their correct handling must be planned in the context of digital change. Through AI and machine learning, predictions can be drawn from data sets that open up unexpected contexts and make fully automated recommendations for action. To be able to work in a future-oriented way, it’s imperative that events involve new technologies. Whether ELT, Blockchain or IoT - new technologies simplify the work with large visitor and participant data and help to adapt the event industry to contemporary standards.