CeBIT, the world's largest IT trade show, starts this week. It will offer IT users an insight into the products and strategies that can take their organisations forward and will act as a barometer on the health of the industry as it emerges from a downturn.
Organisers are hoping for a turnout of more than 500,000 visitors for this year's event, although this will still be well down on the peak attendance of 800,000 in 2000, just before the dotcom bubble burst.
This year's show, at the usual Hannover showground venue, will be held as the indications show that overall IT spending growth is increasing. The latest Computer Weekly IT Expenditure Report predicted an 8.6% increase in UK IT spending in 2004, up from 4.4% in 2003.
This is well above overall European spending predictions for 2004, according to the European IT Observatory. It has predicted spending on IT will grow by 3.1% in Western Europe in 2004, compared to 0.8% growth in 2003.
As businesses step up the rate of investment, the CeBIT organisers expect storage, security and convergence to attract keen interest from visitors. There will be a number of presentations and seminars on these issues at the ICT World Forum, which takes place before the exhibition.
The show will also feature a number of halls themed around fast-growing vertical sectors such as banking, finance and the public sector.
Visitors to CeBIT will have access to a wireless Lan in every hall at the exhibition centre. With more than 200 access points installed all around the venue, visitors will be able to use their wireless devices to dial into the internet via an 802.11b network.