CeBIT business technology fair returns to Sydney CBD

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Get on your walking shoes and prepare to traipse exhibition floors. Australia’s premier business technology event CeBIT is on again. And it’s back in the Sydney CBD at the rebuilt International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour starting on May 23.

For three years, CeBIT used digs at Sydney’s Olympic Park, which meant a smaller fair, reduced crowd numbers and apparently questions about its standing as an international event.

“There were international brands, international attendees, who question their involvement because the venue we moved to wasn’t familiar to them on an international basis,” says CeBIT Australia organiser Harvey Stockbridge, the managing director of Hannover Fairs Australia.

This year’s CeBIT looks a bumper event with more speakers, more conferences and bigger venues in the new centre.

The eight keynote speakers start with a NASA expert on deep space missions, Dennis Andrucyk. The myriad data collected from deep space is perfect fodder for big data analytics. “He’s going to talk about how you can make intelligent use of that data,” Stockbridge says.

Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, will speak about business facing issues of transformation and how to deploy technology effectively. Kaspersky Lab chief Eugene Kaspersky will discuss corporate security.

There’ll be nine dedicated conferences, more than 170 expert speakers, 350 exhibitors including 100 start-ups, six strategic panels, and events in three show floor theatres.

Exhibitors come from 34 countries, and there are seven international pavilions operated by Jiangsu province in China, Germany, Pakistan, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Stockbridge says the start-up conference and pitching event (PitchFest) continues this year. Eight PitchFest finalists are from NSW, whose government sponsors the event. That CeBIT focuses on start-ups and entrepreneurial disruptive companies is an imperative for CeBIT. “It’s only right we dedicate the final day of CeBIT to start-ups,” Stockbridge says.

CeBIT also offers a concierge service. If you turn up with a particular interest, the service can guide you through the full program.

Stockbridge says he has cut consumer content from CeBIT that fell outside its business technology brief.

“A lot of the (previous) message around CeBIT was about scale: the numbers of visitors, how big it had got,” he says. “We said, ‘OK, it’s about providing valuable and meaningful content to certain communities.’ So we’ve taken out some of the more irrelevant international exhibiting product. Some of the consumer electronics and business electronics of past fairs won’t be there. The identity we gave CeBIT 2½ years ago was the leading business technology forum.”

Another conference, Techmix 2017, concerned with technology marketing, will co-locate with CeBIT. It will be held on May 24.

Stockbridge plans next year to revive the partner country program that was suspended during the Olympic Park years.

“As much as we extolled the virtues of the western corridor of Sydney, and talked about the growth in the excitement out there, when we look at the economic impact to NSW we know that when we are based in the CBD, with the accessibility of hotels and the attractions, it’s a more compelling proposition.

“We have expectations that 15,000 people will visit CeBIT this year,” he says, adding that just under 13,000 attended last year at Olympic Park.

He says Hannover Fairs (Deutsche Messe) has been expanding its event portfolio in Australia. Additionally to CeBIT, it runs a conference in Canberra called GovInnovate, focusing on technology in government. It is partnering the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council for AFAC17 in Sydney in September; and it runs CeMAT, a global logistics and materials management event to be held in Melbourne next year.

Stockbridge is also busy planning Millennial 20/20 about next-generation commerce. An Australian event will be held at Carriageworks in Sydney in November.

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