Distributors have mixed views about the importance of the CeBIT ICT expo, which opens in Sydney today, despite an extra push towards the channel this year.
More than 25,000 business people are expected to see displays from more than 500 vendors, including 100 from overseas, at the Darling Harbour event over the next three days.
The show also features the AIIA Software Showcase of 150 Australian software companies and displays from major companies such as Microsoft and Vodafone.
Organiser, Jackie Taranto, said the large number of SMEs showing innovative technologies was a feature of this year's show at Darling Harbour.
"Many are seeking partners and distributors, so it is the place to be for companies looking for the next tech blockbuster," she said.
CeBIT marketing manager, Graeme Smith, said marketing to software companies, particularly overseas ones, was more aggressive this year.
They had been lured to Australia to see how they could supply the Australian ICT industry either using distributors or setting up here.
An online business matching service has been expanded to include more detailed questions on what companies are seeking, so producers can in advance look for potential partners and the channel can look for potential vendors.
"The channel market is able to target what they are looking for," Smith said.
Being online, this can be done either before or after the show, in case people are too busy to make appointments at the show itself.
Managing director of Victoria-based distributor Westan, Victor Aghtan, said his staff would be at the show promoting Promise storage products and other partner products.
"We will be looking for reseller partners, especially on the storage side," he said.
It would be Westan's first show in years, he said, he hoped it represented a comeback for IT shows after the recent tech downturn.
CeBIT claims 20 per cent exhibitor growth and 33 per cent visitor growth on last year.
Managing director for distributor eXeed, Michael Bosnar, said he was planning a stall for Hutchison 3G mobile services, but the vendor itself was running one.
"The quality of customers should be good," he said. "If you have new technologies, then CeBIT is ideal to show it."
CeBIT claims 35 per cent of its visitors approve purchasing decisions. A further 38 per cent recommend them.
However, marketing manager of Express Data, Peter Masters, said he saw the show as end-user focussed, not expecting many resellers to go, a view echoed by Joshua Velling of Tech Pacific.
Either way, claiming 20 per cent more exhibitors than last year, with an opening by NSW Premier, Bob Carr, the organisers, Hannover Trade Fairs, are claiming a successful show already with greater relevance for the channel.
Today's show also features CeBIT's first eGovernment Forum, featuring the heads of various Australian government departments and Tony Blair's head of eGovernment, Andrew Pinder.
It will look at how Australia can maintain its number two rank for eGovernment adoption while tackling consumer concerns such as privacy and security.
ICT Minister, Darryl Williams, will also open the Future Parc initiative, showcasing Australia's best research and development initiatives.