01/04/2016
OCSL Editor

Didn’t make it to CeBIT 2016? Why not take a “virtual tour” with OCSL's technology strategists, Joe Ashley and Olly Hawkins.  Get their insider view on Top Technology Trends for 2016 from this huge week-long technology event held in Hanover, Germany.

#1 CeBIT 2016: Plan it like a marathon

On arrival, the first thing that hit us was the sheer scale of CeBit.  Every industry and every major sphere of technology is here.  After our initial wide-eyed start, Olly and I realised we needed a plan. So if  you're planning on visiting next year, decide which halls are most relevant to you and plan an in-depth visit to each over the week.  I employed my tried and trusted marathon strategy – staged goals, large breakfasts, carbohydrate heavy lunches, and regular rests. Oh, and lots and lots of water!

CeBIT really is huge! OCSL's Joe Ashley taking part in the CeBIT 10K

#2 Key trends for the big players: Digital Business Systems

One real eye opener for us was the scale of presence of Huawei and their smart city concepts. Smart City is a major theme of all the Asia Pacific organisations. Solutions range from command and control stations for blue-light emergency services right down to light bulb management. There was a clear focus on IoT solutions and the potential for large scale integration of information and metrics from new sensors and devices.

CRM was another dominant theme.   The different approaches the major players have taken was interesting. Microsoft are big on integration with their productivity suite products driving a consistent user experience. SAP leverage the power of their Hana platform to do impressive analytics on raw data and to map sentiment analysis as part of the customer journey.  Salesforce meanwhile showcased a far broader range of SaaS solutions than just their CRM platform.

#3 Trends in future technolgies: Research and Innovation

Without the familiarity of big name vendors, it can be hard to find key areas of interest in this particular area of the event, so we would recommend signing up for a guided tour.  Olly and I signed up for one around future technologies and trends. This gave us the opportunity to listen to some fascinating presentations on how technology is opening up new avenues for research and innovation.

For example, the Hasso Plattner Institut, an information technology university college, is using large in-memory database platforms to enhance medical diagnostics, such as genome sequencing. Their focus is on the integration of unstructured and distributed data to provide clear trends and analysis, and the scale is huge.  For example, the scan of a single organ in 1 second, generates 10GB of raw data.

A Wingtra Drone at CeBIT

#4 What’s hot in the Internet of Things: IoT Solutions

The Tesla Model X captured everyone’s attention in this area.  Kevin Mahaffey, (you may remember his name from the well-publicised Tesla hacking) illustrated how the “connected” Tesla on display could be maliciously accessed.  But in the event of this happening, they can issue a firmware update rather than a costly product recall. By contrast, Jeep had a similar issue with one of their cars and the net result was 1.4m recalls. So the message here is clear: building IOT devices from the ground up pays dividends!

#5 Developments in development: Developer World

The message in this area was bi-modal or two speed IT is a challenge, but a necessity.  Dr Martin Hofmann, CIO of Volkswagen Group, was clear.  For every ‘crazy data scientist’ he needs developing new service and solutions for their technology enabled cars of the future, he needs his legacy IT function keeping the manufacturing plants and back office systems up and available for the group to function.

He cannot afford to have one without the other, cannot afford to drop today’s ball in day-to- day operations without embedding technology into the heart of tomorrows products.

#6 Future Technologies: Including Robotics & Augmented Reality

Olly and I were introduced to Pepper and Nao, two robots from Aldebaran. What is striking is how genuinely engaging they are and how they could generate an emotional response.  When Nao deliberately falls over, someone in the crowd cannot resist but help him to his feet. Their potential in retail is obvious, and the ability to integrate their systems and knowledge with an organisations various platforms (ERP and CRM solutions in particular) make them a direct technology bridge between customer and back end systems.

Augmented reality was demonstrated in several ways, including oculus rift 3D glasses for interactive meetings. Imagine drawing in the air in front of you, and being able to reach out and grab graph lines or virtual chunks of information, within a 3d virtual room that you and your colleagues can all see?  Just another example of technology gradually getting closer and closer to offering enhancements to our lives with less and less of a compromise on human interaction.

#7 Key takeaways summary from CeBIT 2016: Final thoughts

In the customer experience led nature of the digital age, technology that genuinely engages while integrating with legacy back end systems drives better customer relationships and new services and markets.

But with technology everywhere, this brings new challenges around security and integration. For example, a retail robot that has no direct tie in to your ERP or CRM solution is just a gimmick.

The final key theme was the mass adoption of cloud. It seems to finally be taken as a given that solutions are cloud-based and on premise solutions were fewer than ever.

Finally, our wearable technology told the unavoidable truth of the week: with 79hrs 18mins onsite, and 73,351 steps in and around the conference venues, the size and scale of digital transformation solutions is enormous.

Thought piece