It has been announced that Brazil will be the partner country of the CeBIT 2012 technology conference in Germany. This was confirmed yesterday at the BITS trade fair in Porto Alegre – a local trade fair held here in Brazil under the CeBIT brand.
But what does this mean?
One would assume that it means a lot more participation in the trade fair – perhaps a bigger stand, more eye-catching displays or more integration into the main program of the event.
It could, but Brazil had a big display this year, thanks to ApexBrasil. Some commentators in the media are already pointing out that Turkey was the partner country this year and yet is a much smaller IT market than Brazil, so is there any real prestige in partner country status?
CeBIT 2011 was a big event – possibly the largest IT trade fair in the world. It brought together 339,000 visitors from 90 countries and 4200 exhibitors from 70 nations in Germany, with many of them passing by the Brasil stand – no doubt to collect a free pen or USB drive.
The numbers are impressive, but did any of the Brazilian IT companies who went to Germany get any new business?
I have talked to several people who were at CeBIT in Germany this year and I have not heard of a single Brazilian technology firm winning an order directly as a result of being there.
It is easy to be cynical about conferences. You might argue that presence at the event is all about branding – some conferences are so big and visible that you don’t win business by being seen there, but you can lose business by not being seen. This maxim has held true for a long time, but does it remain valid in an age where people gather information on IT firms through curated news feeds, such as Twitter?
IT Decisions reported directly from CeBIT last March and it was clear that Brazil already had a strong presence at the event – even before the partner status planned for 2012 . Dozens of Brazilian technology firms were there and the stand was large and noticeable, but none of the major Brazilian technology players made the trip – it was dominated by smaller firms without much brand visibility.
Does this mean that the larger IT firms know they won’t win any business on the conference floor so they don’t bother attending, or their target market is not really Europe, or they see the conference as too general for their market?
It would be interesting to hear some of their views directly, but either way, IT Decisions will be watching the market over the coming months and asking leaders in major Brazilian IT firms if the partner country status encourages them to head out to Hannover next year. If so, perhaps we might join them for a stein.
Photo by HackNY licensed under Creative Commons