Last Tuesday I flew out to Hannover, Germany for CeBIT. Famed as the largest and most internationally represented technology and innovation festival in Europe, the event welcomed 2,800 participating companies, over 600 speakers and 370 start-ups from Europe, Africa and Asia.
The concepts of business, technology and innovation are at the heart of CeBIT’s philosophy. This year’s event had four distinct areas within the festival grounds: d!conomy (business-to-business), d!tec (disruptive business models and start-ups), d!talk (pioneers and lateral thinkers of digitalisation) and d!campus (the fun bit!). There was a large programme of events, but my goal was to discover what new technology innovations were being showcased and what was available from a developer perspective.
VW Developer Lab
My first stop was at the VW stand, which I loved because they had a ‘Developer Lab’. There was a bit of a buzz around the live coding area, with VW dev’s on hand to chat with CeBIT delegates. VW approach coding a little differently, whereby two developers live code simultaneously – ‘extreme programming’. The reason for this? To raise standards, increase innovation and problem solve together.
All software and product development is done using an agile methodology, giving VW the opportunity to innovate, improve and create a fluid process for change. Designers, product managers and developers all work alongside each other, with product managers and designers identifying areas of innovation and developers coming up with technical solutions and building end-to-end to support this. As developers finish their code, it’s sent through two checkpoints and if it passes at both points, the code is deployed live to the Cloud and available immediately. This is all in an effort to continuously improve data chips found in VW cars.
Recruiting at VW has also evolved; developers make the final decision on who is hired, not management. During the process, they pair up new recruits and test their ability to work in sync to produce quality code. Recruitment of great talent was a key objective of VW exhibiting at CeBIT with their Developer Lab.
IBM Create Space
My next stop was the IBM Create Space, a developer area for live coding. IBM had a range of stations offering the following:
- Set up your own blockchain in 20 minutes
- Robotic process automation
- Create native apps
- IBM Cloud for VMWare Solutions
- Get started with IBM Cloud
At each station, there were IBM experts on hand to answer questions, as well as technical guides. IBM also hosted the #CallforCode meetup at CeBIT. Marketed as ‘DEVELOPERS ONLY’, it was an opportunity for developers to speak with developer advocate Fernando Cejas and explore the art of coding disasters, including software engineering disasters, failures, and mistakes.
What else was on offer for developers?
There was definitely room for more developer offerings, but those who did them did them well. Huawei created the “Huawei DevCenter” where developers could go and speak to Huawei about developer opportunities. There were also quite a few developer job offerings scattered across stands and also in the careers section of the exhibition.
Key technology themes @CeBIT 2018
From a technology and innovation perspective, I observed the following key themes:
- IoT – A lot of exhibitors were showcasing IoT innovations, but the one that stood out for me was Vodafone. They showcased their 5G wireless-connected robots who learn from each other, even when physically separated by hundreds of miles. Smart living was also very prominent in the IoT space, with everything from smart trash cans to traffic easing technology.
- Autonomous vehicles – From robot cars to autonomous electric buses – autonomous vehicle technology was prevalent at this year’s exhibition.
- Robotics – There were a lot of robots at CeBIT, some were designed to help workmen and some were serving drinks.
- AR and VR – It wouldn’t be a technology expo without some AR and VR headsets, would it?
- Drones – Lot and lots of drones! There was even drone racing, and you would not believe how fast those things go!
- Blockchain – From renewable energy trading to secure data transmission for the IoT, blockchain was showcased by a number of exhibitors. A key standout for me was a robot mixing drinks which had been ordered via a blockchain-based order chain.
Final thoughts (+cat related swag..)
A highlight for me was having the opportunity to chat with delegates and hear their insights about the festival and also how it compared to previous years. The sheer size of CeBIT is overwhelming; I hadn’t previously attended a business event of this scale – it was so big that you could get a shuttle or bus around the Hannover Exhibition Center.
With my marketing hat on, I was amazed by the dominating presence of some of the exhibitors. An obvious one to mention is Salesforce, who took over an entire exhibition hall, plus the outside space offering fun activities like giant games, a park to relax and a live music stage.
It was also great to have a mix of business and a fun atmosphere – namely the d!campus which was built to have a festival feel and offered street food stands, coffee huts, live stages and rides (yes..rides).
I also thought that SAP’s marketing tactic was fun and inventive! Check out this promo for their Cloud product..
An unfortunate bit of feedback, however, was that developer offerings were much less abundant than in previous years and the size of CeBIT also made finding developer specific offerings quite challenging. As a technology festival, CeBIT has a great opportunity to offer something amazing for developers – how great would it be if they dedicated an entire exhibition hall to developers? I would have liked to have seen some meetups, more developer specific talks and more live coding opportunities – also where was the free developer swag?
On a personal note (and cat owner) the best bit of free swag I received (from any business event ever) was from Whiska’s. Their ‘Cardboard box 2.0’ – chosen by cats, built for cats has kept my cats busy all day!