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Wednesday, Mar 13, 2002

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High-profile participants likely to hog limelight

Krishnan Thiagarajan

HANNOVER, March 12

IN a highly challenging technology environment with sluggish corporate IT spending and long decision cycles, CeBIT, 2002 is being awaited with bated breath. Since this fair attracts high-profile participants from the IT and telecom industry, this event hopes to provide the necessary impetus to IT growth and a revival in technology spending worldwide.

CeBIT is a unique fair in two respects. It is not only represents the biggest congress of the IT, software and telecom industries, but also one among the few fairs which enables the confluence of these industries under one roof.

Business Line attempts to visualise the key trends or issues, which are likely to hog the limelight at CeBIT, 2002:

Software industry

IT security: IT security will be at the top of the agenda for the entire corporate world after the September 11 attacks. Product launches and services in the field of disaster recovery and business continuity may be featured prominently at the fair. It is likely that new technologies such as Biometrics (which recognise people from their fingerprints, eyes or other body characteristics) will also be one of the highlights of the fair.

Web services: Web services are destined to be the next big thing in the field of software and the battle for the Web services market has already begun. Web services are slated to use the Internet to publish and deliver modular software to which any number of users can subscribe. Obviously, progress in XML (Extensible Mark-up language), the lingua franca of Web services will dominate the proceedings at the fair.

Software integration: Till the issues of interoperability in standards and seamless connectivity are resolved for Web services, the near term focus will be on Enterprise Application Integration (EAI). EAI aims to link the disparate computer systems within a company. The same integration is being sought to be achieved for business process through supply chain management, customer relationship management and other collaborative and cross enterprise applications.

Open source movement: The open source software movement say, via Linux is likely to be a vibrant part of the exchange. This will be highlighted at the fair through a separate `Linux Exchange'.

Telecommunications: After the devastation suffered by the telecom industry in late 2000 and 2001, the theme for 2002 will continue to be `rationalisation' among the existing players. Consolidation (through M & A) has not taken place at the same pace as expected largely because of the state of the capital markets. Once the markets reach a steady state, the prominent bankruptcies in the US and Europe may be rich pickings in the telecom sector. However, the phenomenal growth of the mobile communications industry is not to be trifled with.

For instance, it is forecast that mobile phone sales in Germany alone will be 25 million in 2002. China with its mobile subscriber base of over 120 million and adding 5 million a month (although it is showing signs of tapering off) is already a major torchbearer for the industry. And India with just over 5.5 million subscribers has a long way to go. The fair highlights indicate that telecom and networks will be the biggest display category at the fair. The focus areas will continue to be voice services, march towards GPRS and 3G communications and progress in broadband and fibre optics.

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