yARN: Do we really need CeBIT?

yARN: Do we really need CeBIT?

Matthew Sainsbury ponders over the relevance of this year's tradeshow

So, CeBIT is over for another year. The vendors, resellers and distributors have packed up their wares and shuffled off home, while attendees try to remember just what it was all about.

As I wandered through the exhibition hall this year, I started to ponder its relevance. With the wonders of the Internet, it is very easy to find basic information on any given product, from any given vendor, from any given country (excluding our dear friends in North Korea).

So with the expense of setting up a display at tradeshows like CeBIT, you have to wonder just how much can be achieved when there’s a hundred similar, if not carbon-copy displays, bombarding people as they hurry by.

You could argue that being able to touch and feel, or see the product first hand is one of the benefits of a tradeshow. But in most cases, a sales meeting in the relative comfort and relaxed pace of an office would have a better success rate, surely?

Conventions can work well – you only need to look at a Tokyo Game Show or an E3 for quality examples. But they are for a consumer audience where the wares being hawked are impulse buys; products that rely on a flashy presence in the market.

But a typical professional walking through CeBIT won’t be sold on anything then and there. (Is there any research on this? Anyone?)

I liken CeBIT to the spa stalls I see every year at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. I can’t, for the life of me, see how anyone will go to the Show, see a spa and suddenly realise it’s the missing piece in their lives.

CeBIT strikes me as a hall full of spa stalls pushing the impulse buy. And while the hit rate will likely be somewhat better for IT at CeBIT over the Easter Show spas, in these economic times I believe there are more effective and accurate ways of getting your product into clients’ offices.

But perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe there are people that walk away from the Easter Show with a spa, rather than a giant stuffed soft toy. Yet, I doubt it.

To be fair, thanks to CeBIT I will soon be the proud owner of a $99 pen with a video camera built into it. I have had delusions of emulating James Bond since I was a child – it’s about time I fulfilled them.

But looking back at this year’s CeBIT, I’m afraid I just wasn’t that convinced it was the place to learn about the wonders of datacentre cooling or how to set-up a WiFi antenna.

Anyone for a spa?

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