In a few hours - at 9 am on the dot on Monday morning - CeBIT 2016 will open its doors to visitors. They will find more than just a traditional trade fair. "It's the biggest conference stage in the world for every topic concerning digitization," says Oliver Frese, member of the managing board of Deutsche Messe AG.
In addition to more than 3,000 exhibitors, CeBIT 2016 will for the first time offer a choice of over 2,000 conferences, discussion panels and keynote speeches. The message here is clear: technical solutions are not enough; above all, the digital world needs new ideas and concepts. "On the Internet of Things alone, visitors will discover more than 500 concrete application examples this year," said Frese.
Under this year’s motto "d!conomy: join - create - succeed," well-known speakers from industry, IT and politics will offer surprising perspectives and inspiration during the CeBIT Global Conferences . Right on Monday, the first day of CeBIT, EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger will share interesting insights into the digital agenda of the EU . In total, visitors can look forward to more than 100 program hours in hall 8.
How badly such inspiration is needed is evident in statistics from Bitkom, Germany’s leading ICT association. Dr. Bernhard Rohleder, CEO of Bitkom, told journalists today that most companies in Germany still communicate via fax and that only 15% of them use social media. "We are good at incremental innovation, but today we're talking about disruption: native digital companies are quickly entering analog sectors. Many companies, particularly in Germany, are not prepared for that."
In many places, added Rohleder, there are simply too few employees who have the skills that are needed for digitization. And there is too little knowledge about how to connect the digital world with the traditional economy.
Both of these - people and knowledge - are coming from young, agile companies. Which is why CeBIT is this year offering startups one of the biggest stages ever - around 400 small companies from 40 countries. More than 300 of these companies will take over SCALE11, the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in hall 11 , where the focus will be on exploring investment opportunities and partnerships.
Networking is always king at CeBIT 2016 and the CeBIT Welcome Night on Monday evening will already get the ball rolling. In a cosy setting, guests will be able to make new contacts and participate in inspiring presentations - for example from Sigmar Gabriel (SPD).