IBM has taken control of most of arguably one of the most important halls here at CeBit, Hall 2, turning it into what could be described as an International Business Machines Social Club.
The company, which says Europe and especially Germany is an incredibly important market for it, has well over 1,000 suited and booted IBM executives to talk up its wide portfolios. IBM executive Christine Paulus took some time to speak with TechEye. IBM has been heavily investing in CeBit over the last 25 years, she said.
For IBM in Germany, Paulus said, CeBit is the most important platform to meet customers and business partners while expressing its vision to journalists and analysts. In case you haven't got the memo, the latest IBM vision is of a "smarter planet".
We asked if it was a dumb planet before IBM. The answer is no - it's all about working towards providing the infrastructure for a connected smarter planet - the planet was quite smart already, according to IBM. "It's smart but it's getting smarter," Paulus said.
Despite the recession, Paulus expressed that Europe, economically, is quite advanced. Altogether, IBM thinks, Europe is "on a growing path".
This year the conference is all about the BRIC economies. Brazil is a partner for the show, and IBM notes that Rio De Janeiro is one of its smart cities worth taking notice of.
"Smarter cities is a worldwide phenomenon," Paulus said. "And when you go to a megacity - that's 10 million plus people - they are found mostly in Asia and South America. They have the challenges that they have hardly any infrastructure so they have to build from the bottom up". Not from scratch, IBM says, but certainly with a lot more freedom to build than developed Western economies operating on older infrastructure.
Emerging economies, then, are particularly important for IBM. Government red tape can slow down the building process in developed countries, but not so much in countries which are growing - there are budget restrictions and political challenges in mature markets. And when you have to talk to the administration, you have to integrate them - and that can become challenging because you have to talk to so many people to get the job done.
Smarter cities, Paulus says, is a part of IBM's smarter planet initiative. It's important because in cities, all the challenges are on an even bigger scale - more than half the population worldwide is living in cities. And IBM wants to realise the vision of connected and smarter cities, worldwide.