Trends and topics: A condensed look at the CeBIT highlights
Date: Thu, 03/11/2010 - 16:56
For business IT solutions, the focus was on cloud computing, SaaS, ERP solutions with new functionalities and energy-efficient virtualization systems.
Mobile Internet changing the way we live
As the flagship tradeshow for the digital economy, this year's CeBIT demonstrated the revolutionary impact of the mobile Internet on the way we live, with an incredible range of new applications and services. The market for "apps" - those convenient mini-programs which can be downloaded onto new-generation smartphones with just a stroke of the fingertips - can now be reckoned in the billions of euros. In this year alone around 4.5 billion apps will be downloaded onto mobile phones from the Internet. And that figure is set to climb to over 21.6 billion by 2013, an increase of 380 percent (according to a study by Gartner). A wide range of apps were on display at CeBIT, ranging from pilots guiding users through social networks - another boom trend on the mobile Web - to augmented reality solutions, where real images can be linked with information from the Internet, and pop-star apps, which were a hot topic at the CeBIT Sounds! music fair, which made its debut at CeBIT 2010.
But the webciety, with all its networking opportunities, offers much more than unlimited entertainment packages spanning all technology platforms. Many exhibitors were at CeBIT 2010 to present tools for secure data storage on the Net (cloud computing), with access anywhere, anytime via smartphone, netbook or laptop. Other displays featured intelligent content management systems that make use of all media channels, with the ability to forward content automatically to any specified output device - from print product to mobile phone.
Faster, more economical, better-looking: smartphones, netbooks and more
The mobile phones on show at CeBIT 2010 can truly be described as mini-PCs with a phone connection. Thanks to processor capacities of up to one gigahertz, these devices are able to process multiple commands simultaneously, and can be used in many different connection configurations. Current models with WLAN interfaces and an HSPA wireless module (transmission capacity up to 7.2 megabits per second) are equipped for fast wireless access to the Internet, for example. The next step in the development of mobile broadband networks (HSPA+ with up to 42 Mbit/s) is expected to come on stream by the end of the year. Several displays at CeBIT 2010 looked ahead to the future of mobile telephony: the UMTS successor Long Term Evolution (LTE) provides download speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s. With data rates like these, live HDTV and online gaming on mobile phones could soon become a reality.
Another CeBIT 2010 highlight in terms of smartphone innovations involved the widespread use of touchscreen monitors with convenient fingertip operation. The trend for monitors at Hannover clearly favored AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) displays. This screen technology provides a brighter image, better colors, faster response times and significantly lower electricity consumption. Other favorites with the public at this year's CeBIT included compact netbooks that will fit into any pocket, but with capacity levels inching ever closer to those of the much more expensive "full-grown" portable computers. Many of these practical mini-computers now have the graphics and main processor integrated into the same chip. This saves space on the printed circuit board as well as cutting down on energy consumption, resulting in significantly longer battery life.
3D technologies a magnet at this year's IT show
One of the standout trends at CeBIT 2010 was clearly 3D. The "Next Level 3D" show displayed the gamut of hardware and software now commercially available for home cinema and professional users. Bandwidth ranged from 3D-capable computer monitors through data projectors to high-end gaming notebooks. To enable users to experience the excitement of 3D scenes in today's best-selling games, some manufacturers also supply the appropriate 3D glasses as part of the product. Also on display were the first compact cameras with the ability to take 3D photos and videos, sometimes even in HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). Another big drawing card was the new 3D projectors, used to project 3-dimensional HD images of films and games onto a living room wall.
"future parc" at CeBIT 2010 featured XML3D technology, something that adds 3D functionality to the HTML Internet format. Appropriate elements of this technology can already be integrated into any Website. As an innovations center, the "future parc" special display again pulled in big visitor numbers. Universities, research institutions and ministries exhibited their visionary projects and designs on about 6,000 square meters of display space. The "Connected Worlds" CeBIT motto was a constant reference point at displays in this segment. For example, the "Connected Living" special show took visitors into tomorrow's residential environment, where different household appliances are able to communicate with each other, ranging from a digital energy assistant for monitoring the economical use of heating and lighting to a virtual kitchen assistant that offers tips on healthy eating.
A growing telemedicine market: Health assistants at doctors' offices
According to the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI) the German market for telemedicine applications will nearly triple by 2010, for a total market volume of around 1.4 billion euros. The "TeleHealth" section at CeBIT 2010 showcased new technologies to support the routine at doctors' practices, hospitals and pharmacies. Trade visitors focused on aspects such as the required infrastructure, prevention and home care applications. Several providers addressed applications-related topics such as IT-supported stationary or home care. Smartphones with Bluetooth and Internet connections are set to play an increasing role in this area. The overall impression from the CeBIT 2010 displays in this sector indicated an increasing acceptance of live-saving technologies, even if these appear to be wishful thinking at present: One in every four Germans would, for example, be prepared to have a microchip implanted under their skin if this allowed them to be rescued faster in an emergency. This was a finding from a survey conducted by the BITKOM industry association, released at CeBIT.
Intelligent telematics: letting your car do the thinking
One of the topics covered in the new "Destination ITS" (intelligent transport systems) exhibition section was immediate location after an accident, without the driver needing to take any action at all. Visitors were able to get firsthand information on the European "eCall" emergency calling system, which is likely to be mandatory equipment in all new cars within the next few years.
Along with navigation systems, the displays also included the latest parking guidance and fleet management solutions. The "CeBIT in Motion" forum briefed visitors on the latest developments in intelligent traffic control.
A fascinating glimpse into the future was provided by a car concept study featuring LTE broadband access. Via a large server on the Internet (cloud), this "smartphone on wheels" can communicate independently with other cars - to warn them of traffic jams, for example.
Software and services as growth drivers for the German economy
The throngs of CeBIT visitors in Halls 2, 3, 4 and 5 left no doubt this year that across all sectors of industry, business solutions were high on decision-makers' investment priority lists. Exhibitors including industry giants such as IBM, Microsoft and SAP reported positive results from exhibiting at the fair. According to a study prepared by the Karlsruhe-based Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) and publicly released for the first time at CeBIT, software and services are the drivers of growth in the German economy. By 2030 the ICT sector in Germany will create gross annual value of 90 billion euros, outdistancing previous star performers of the German economy such as mechanical engineering and automotive manufacturing. Up to 452,000 new jobs will be created in the software and IT services sector by that time.
SAP World Tour 2010
2010 also saw CeBIT become a center of the SAP community for the first time. The software giant pitched its tents for its annual customer event in Halls 19 and 20. Over 3,000 SAP experts, customers and partners took the opportunity to visit the CeBIT 2010 event as well.
Cloud computing and SaaS again to the fore
Cloud computing and SaaS (software as a service) were again very much at the forefront of this year's CeBIT 2010. Cloud computing enables even small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to harness the benefits of state-of-the-art technology in their business processes without needing to invest in costly hardware and software first. The main drivers for SaaS are cost factors and ease of administration. SaaS also allows the problem-free scaling of a company's solutions, allowing solutions to grow rapidly in sync with jumps in business volumes. Many exhibitors at CeBIT 2010 were showcasing industry-specific solutions to simplify rapid access for SMEs to cloud computing and SaaS.
ERP systems with new functionality
New ERP systems now integrate comprehensive functionalities for eCommerce, mobile computing and business intelligence (BI). Many solutions are specifically targeted at small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), which have traditionally been the backbone of the German economy, but are increasingly coping with the pressures of global competition. Flexible IT applications which link a company's business processes with those of its partners, suppliers and customers can help these smaller companies meet the challenges of global markets. For this purpose today's ERP systems have an integrated business process management (BPM) function, containing predefined standard processes, but also allowing for a definition of the company's own business processes as well. Modern ERP systems typically have a user-friendly user interface as well.
Mobility is one of the new IT catchwords: Mobile clients like Blackberries, smartphones or other portable devices are now expected to be able to access data from ERP systems or to feed the ERP system with data from an outside location. The ability to keep databases continually up-to-date is a critical factor in the global competitive environment.
CRM as a growth driver
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a key growth driver in the business applications sector, which is prompting a high level of interest in CRM applications. These enable customer support or sales staff to retrieve all current data and process records during a customer visit. And they can also initiate processes right on the spot, so the customer's requirements can be met more quickly.
Applications bundled by ECM and DMS manufacturers
Under the general heading of enterprise content management (ECM) and document management systems (DMS), manufacturers bundle a wide range of applications, such as office, records, knowledge and e-mail management, together with the seamless integration of office solutions. Also included are basic functions such as archiving and workflow options for the transparent execution of business processes. More and more of the systems now coming onto the market are specifically targeted at the individual requirements of SMEs. Customized complete packages help companies to design more transparent business processes and optimize their processes.
Modernization in the public sector
Public-sector entities will be facing challenges of Herculean proportions over the next 15 to 18 months, as they are expected to operate with ever-shrinking budgets. The Public Sector Parc show at CeBIT 2010 highlighted the trends driving modernization in the public sector. The main focus was on the elimination of red tape, citizens-as-clients including a service-minded focus, shared services and networked administration. One of the hot topics involved the upcoming introduction of the new personal ID card in Germany on 1 November 2010. The lively dialog and high numbers of trade visitors at Public Sector Parc highlighted an increasing willingness to innovate within the public sector today.
Green IT: producing and living in energy economy mode
In its current study entitled "SMART 2020 - towards a low-emission economy in the information age", the non-profit organization The Climate Group estimates that global carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by around 15 percent and energy costs of 600 billion euros around the world could be saved between now and 2020 with the help of new information and communication technologies.
CeBIT 2010 has been an important milestone on the route to meeting this objective, showcasing energy-efficient virtualization systems (smart infrastructure) and a wide range of power-saving servers, display screens and notebooks produced by eco-friendly methods. The topic of materials recycling was also on the agenda. After all, even the most esthetically pleasing and technically sophisticated devices will one day become obsolete, as the world of IT continues to turn - until the time of the next CeBIT, from 1 to 5 March 2011 in Hannover, Germany.