Those of you who know me (Peter O’Neill) know that I’ve lived in Germany since 30 years. Now, when I grew up in the UK, I remember so well the BBC journalist Alistair Cooke reading his “Letter From America” each Sunday night on the wireless (as we called radio then!): It was a great familiarization exercise and stood me in good stead when I visited and worked in the US many years later. As I do at least one inquiry per week for Forrester clients describing the state of the European and/or German tech market, I thought I’d kick off a regular blog in the same vein – probably bi-monthly – where I highlight something I think is important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany.  

One of my most profound memories working for HP Germany is managing its several CeBIT booths for two years back in the late 90s. Those days, with over-600,000 visitors, CeBIT was the largest IT show anywhere in the world. In 1996, I showed the “World’s Largest Data Warehouse” showcasing HP’s new partner then, EMC, and our own software, HP OpenView. The EMC hardware ran so hot, it melted the bitumen under our booth and we literally had a hotsite for one very dramatic night.  Among other duties (organizing 300 HP staff, arranging 50 demo stations, coordinating signage and messaging to name a few), I also remember designing our event lead registration form based ONLY on what collateral we had on stock in our literature library (how about that for content management!).  I then sifted through the hundreds of filled-out (usually badly) forms each evening to make sure each “lead” was qualified. About 5% went to a real sales rep, the rest to the lit center: But that was good because we had sent all leads on to sales in previous years – and wow, did they complain?  Anyway, in recent years, CeBIT has become less important due to the state of the economy; reduced interest in the German IT market from a worldwide context; and the reduced impact of live demos.  I remember being hired to make a speech to a vendor client’s customers in 2004 but nobody turned up – I didn’t take it personally and they made me present into a TV camera instead.

This year's CeBIT  looks much more compelling – but more as a conference than a trade show. There are 3 very interesting agendas: “All Things Smart” on March 6th with executive speakers from Microsoft, IBM, Huawei, Ericsson, AGT and the WWW Consortium, plus a panel with other speakers. The March 7th day is entitled “Flying The Cloud” and gives speaking space to execs from SonicWALL, Amazon, VMWare, SAP and NETGEAR, plus another panel which includes Neelie Kroes, the EU-Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. The third day is more oriented towards consumer electronics.   The Global Conference, as it is called, is sponsored by most of the firms listed above. Clearly, they see value in that investment as well as in parking their top international executives in Hannover for a few days (admittedly, not the most exciting place in the world). I hope that they get their audience and adequate leads. I’ll be asking them afterwards and will report back. Then, perhaps you other tech marketers might want to reconsider CeBIt in a different light and put it in to your plans for 2013.   

Agree? Disagree?  Need more details?  As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics.

 Always keeping you informed! Peter