Keynote trends at CeBIT 2012
Date: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 14:03
Smart security for business, government and consumers; Social shopping revolutionizes eCommerce; First smartphones available for new LTE mobile telephone networks
Even clouds translated into bright prospects at CeBIT 2012, with cloud computing being one of the hottest topics at the event. According to the results of a study presented at the show, suppliers of cloud solutions in Germany alone are set to record sales of around 5.3 billion euros this year - up 47 percent on 2011 (source: the Experton Group). The cloud computing market there is expected to grow to approximately 17 billion euros by 2016 - a rate that was duly reflected in the display of numerous market-ready products based on the cloud's literally limitless online storage capacity. For example, the cloud can now be used to store a company's entire accounting and sales system or a government office's statistical data analyses and reports - data which would otherwise occupy many gigabytes of space on the organization's own servers. Private consumers can also keep their photos or videos on the cloud, freeing up costly space on PCs, tablets or smartphones.
IT security featured as keynote theme
The organizers' choice of "Managing Trust" as the keynote theme for this year's CeBIT was right on target. Trust is a vital factor in any organization's decision to entrust an external service provider with the storage of its sensitive data. Consequently, displays in the exhibition halls featured cloud solutions which put a top priority on protecting data from hacker attacks or other misuse. Visitors were particularly interested in cloud services which were based on supporting data centers in Germany, such as those provided by Datev and Deutsche Telekom.
The security issue is also becoming more significant in other contexts. According to the results of a BITKOM survey released at CeBIT, one in every three enterprises views its IT security precautions as less than adequate. And while 95 percent of all ICT businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place for data mishaps, this is the case for only 50 percent of companies in other sectors. CeBIT 2012 presented the full range of security solutions currently available for business and private users. These extended from a fully protected server farm to antivirus software for smartphones, e.g. as exhibited by Kaspersky Lab.
Mobile Internet in all areas of daily life
And of course CeBIT also featured a vast range of hardware innovations. These included the first LTE smartphones from HTC and Samsung which can download data from the Internet up to 10 times faster than today's 3G mobile phones. Network operators also displayed some exciting new services for fourth-generation mobile telephony - for example, professional cloud services and multimedia content streaming. Exhibits showcasing these products highlighted the extremely low LTE latency times for data downloads (approx. 30 milliseconds) as well as the increased capacity of the new 4G networks, allowing significantly more same-location users to enjoy the benefits of high transfer speeds.
Standout crowd-pleasers included stylishly flat Ultrabooks from suppliers like Dell and new tablet computers from Samsung, Motorola and Huawei, equipped with super-fast quad core processors and HD-capable, multi-touch displays as used in high-end mobile phones. This year's CeBIT also highlighted an interesting trend in apps: the growing proliferation of HTML5 apps enabling programmers and users to become independent of Android, iOS, Windows Phone and other download stores.
Social business opens door to new business models
CeBIT visitors had ample opportunity to explore all the various eCommerce options, ranging from a user-friendly Webshop for mobile devices to conference lectures by some of the industry's most visionary thinkers. CeBIT put the spotlight on innovative shop modules featuring Social Commerce as one of this year's trend topics. Social Commerce allows customers to share their impressions of recently purchased products and aims to add an emotional dimension to the online buying experience. Another major drawing card was a "live project" in Hall 4, where a Social Command Center supplied by Salesforce allowed visitors to follow online discussions on CeBIT. Other important enterprise themes included innovative solutions for analyzing and managing ever-growing data volumes (big data), the optimum use of social networks for the benefit of employees and enterprise IT apps.
Flexible tools revolutionize employment market
The current sea change in the employment arena was underscored at CeBIT 2012: The traditional office environment is a thing of the past. Desktop PCs are being replaced with notebooks, tablets and smartphones. These devices are connected to the company network via secure communication applications, providing real-time Web-based dialog with the employee's colleagues, customers or other important partners, anytime, anywhere. These communication and collaboration tools from providers like SAP include a major role for cloud computing - in cloud conferencing services, for example.
Smart networking between government and citizens
Microsoft's "Neustadt" (digital city) project at CeBIT 2012 highlighted the ways in which today's information technology can be used in a networked urban environment to make administrative processes more efficient and user-friendly. Examples like municipal administration, education, civil defense in disaster situations and health were used to illustrate what eParticipation might look like in the not-too-distant future. Almost 60 percent of citizens already make use of digital information services, but only 33 percent download forms from the Internet (source: German Federal Statistical Office). The range of services provided in Germany is set to grow significantly in the near future with the increasingly widespread use of the digital ID card. CeBIT 2012 explored some potential scenarios for avoiding the need to go to an administrative office in person - for a building survey application, for example. The new card will also provide a convenient alternative to the "Post Ident" procedure offered by Deutsche Post for things like opening a bank account or shopping on the Internet. Another service set to become part of everyday life in Germany is De-Mail, an encrypted electronic letter service with legally guaranteed delivery, as featured by several exhibitors at CeBIT. De-Mail will provide a fast and easy way for companies, government agencies and private individuals to forward confidential documents over the Internet.
Smart mobility for traffic planning and logistics
Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly morphing into mobility service providers. CeBIT 2012 included a number of exhibits featuring new ICT solutions and concept designs showing how seamlessly networked traffic flows and efficient data supply can be used to prevent gridlock on roads and city streets. Intelligent solutions of this kind are vital for the logistics industry as well as for controlling traffic lights and hazard warnings after a collision. Special automotive apps specifically optimized for in-vehicle use provide an instant display of important information on a head-up monitor or the navigation screen in the vehicle cockpit. As from 2015 new vehicles will also be outfitted with a mobile radio chip providing access to in-car services and an automatic emergency call function. Examples of machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions could be seen in action at this year's CeBIT. The required global SIM cards, as exhibited by Vodafone, will have a service life of at least 10 years and withstand temperatures ranging from minus 40 to plus 85 degrees Celsius.
Mobile healthcare for enhanced medical treatment services
Medical practitioners have long dreamt of having immediate access to all the main patient data and being able to run comparisons with other, similar findings at the press of a button. In an age of wireless, networked tablet computers, this dream is about to become a reality. "Mobile health" was a major trend topic at CeBIT 2012. Apart from paving the way to improved patient care in the hospital environment, the solutions on display at CeBIT 2012 included the sensor-based monitoring of essential body functions, with a smartphone app to forward the results to the patient's general practitioner. To round off this part of the show, the "Health & Vitality" forum featured the latest developments in wearable technologies.
Code_n: mobile avant-garde at CeBIT
One of the big crowd-pleasers at this year's CeBIT premiered in Hall 16, where an artistically inspired display featured 50 great ideas devoted to "shaping mobile life". In a relaxed, laid-back setting, the top entrants in the Code_n innovation competition demonstrated the many and varied capabilities of digital technology, including an automatic translation service for messages on social network sites and a proposed Web tool providing a live advisory service for online shops.
Live from the lab: Reach out and touch the future
Leading research organizations such as the Fraunhofer Institutes offered CeBIT visitors behind-the-scenes glimpses of some of their current projects. The exhibits and concept designs on display ranged from painting robots and a learning system based on the game of hopscotch to real-time analysis of a football match. Another example was the "art guardian" for protecting valuable works of art. Invisible sensors monitor temperature and humidity and detect any movements and gestures in front of a painting, all of which can be monitored by smartphone using intelligent IT. All in all, this year's CeBIT succeeded in opening the window on tomorrow's state of the art, to an extent unmatched by any other tradeshow event anywhere else in the world.
Above, image credited to CeBIT 2012