CeBIT – Reflection on Day 3

by Prof Barry Dwolatzky

A day in the life of an exhibitor at CeBIT has three parts.

Early in the morning a few early risers sit at their stands dealing with emails or chatting with fellow exhibitors over their first mug of coffee for the day. There is a sense of calm before the storm, which comes just after 9am, when the gates of the show open for the day.

Between 9am and 6pm the day goes in waves. Visitors flow past like a never ending stream – CeBIT attracts more than 300,000 visitors each year from every corner of the world. As an exhibitor one fields questions, has pre-arranged meetings, and tries to slip off from time-to-time to grab some food or see something of CeBIT oneself.

At 6pm the gates of the show officially close for the day, and the parties and functions begin. Company stands and country pavilions are transformed as drinks and snacks are served to special customers and friends. In some cases live music drowns out conversations as exhibitors and visitors unwind and party late into the night.

Over the past few years the South African Pavilion has hosted one of the most popular and anticipated evening functions – a South African Wine Tasting. Everyone seems to LOVE our wine!  At 6pm on Day 3 our National Pavilion overflowed as hundreds of invited guests and their friends arrived to drink some (excellent) Cape wine and eat some (delicious) snacks. When I left at 7:40pm the party was still going strong! I don’t have the staying power of some of my fellow exhibitors!

Apart from the wine, the exhibit on our Pavilion that has attracted the most excitement is a transparent holographic colour display developed by “Bottomline Interactive” and “Customer Care Solutions”. A stylish white box sits on a plinth at eye level. Standing in front of the box you can see through clear glass panels on the front and back. Floating in the box is a 3-D image of a motorcar. The front panel is a touch screen. By moving your finger across this screen you can rotate the floating car. Another image that appears in the box is a black and white football. Yoram Nitzan, one of the developers of the system tells me that displaying pure black and white colours is a major innovation. Engineers from a major Korean electronics company visited our Pavilion to see this display and agreed that it was in some ways more advanced than anything they had.

While this holographic display certainly has the “wow factor”, other exhibitors on our Pavilion have seen a steady stream of interested visitors.

Pravin Maharaj and Avi Maharaj representing Wiscor
  • Pilotfish Digital is a Durban-based software development company that has been to CeBIT before. It is a leading Microsoft-based integrator that specializes in developing solutions aimed at streamlining business processes for their clients.
  • Qwix Technology has also been to CeBIT before. They offer a Warehouse Management System used by several major South African companies. Their solution includes several innovative features designed to automate and control material and inventory handling processes. The latest version of their software integrates with hand-held touchscreen devices resulting in a 100% paperless environment.
  • GeoMed offers a range of healthcare technologies and medical devices. They have established partnerships with various academic and research institutions. One of the companies under the GeoMed umbrella is Mezzanine. It has become a market leader in the development of GSM enabled healthcare data collection and decision support systems for emerging market countries. Their platform has been deployed in Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa and India.
  • SensePost has participated on the SA Pavilion at CeBIT several times before. Since it was founded in 2000 SensePost has become a significant global player in the information security space, providing skilled penetration assessment expertise to prestigious clients in Germany, UK, Switzerland, USA, Middle east and Africa. It has offices in London, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
  • Thusa Dynamics is another Durban-based software development company represented at CeBIT by Tharun Pillay.  It has a focus within the travel industry. Thusa has also done work in the area of risk modeling and analysis for the SA Department of Defence, and in home automation and security.

Participating as part of the SA delegation at CeBIT has certainly opened my eyes to the range of innovative and exciting ICT products and services coming out of our country. Travelling to Germany to find this out has certainly been worth the effort!

2 thoughts on “CeBIT – Reflection on Day 3

  1. Hi Barry

    I’m so enjoying following this.
    CoZa Cares Foundation often comes across small, really innovative ICT organisations/companies, many one-person outfits. One of the biggest obstacles they face (aside from seed money) is ‘getting the idea out there’. Along with marketing and building networks and relationships comes the inevitable fear of IP theft. I don’t have any original answers for them, but perhaps others at CeBIT do?
    And are there opportunities and financial support for young start-ups to participate in the SA stand at CeBIT?

  2. Hi Barry

    I totally agree! This event was a huge eye-opener to me in terms of what was happening in the rest of the country. To know that this calibre of innovation is happening in South Africa and so diversely was great to see, and rather comforting.

    Over the years, I’ve heard much about South Africa being one of the backwaters in the world. Sure it may be true, however, we are not so far off, where in fact, I now think we are ahead in the world. Sure the same ideas may not be as mature, but they are vastly different in terms of the approach taken, more innovative. This all being said in contrast with the rest of what was seen at CeBIT.

    More companies should be encouraged to share the experience and join our pavillion! We definitely have some amazement to offer to the world.

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