There are only a few weeks to go before TWENTY2X opens its gates for the first time. How are the preparations coming along? Are you happy with progress and will the show be ready on time?

TWENTY2X is shaping up well and we can’t wait for opening day! The response from exhibitors, conference speakers, our event partners and the media has been extremely positive. Our team, our partners and our co-promoters are all working very hard to ensure that the inaugural event is a resounding success. We are confident that this new digital technology show for the SME sector will make a big splash. At this point, it certainly looks like it will.

CEBIT was a well-established event that needed no introduction. TWENTY2X, on the other hand, is just getting started. Who are you wanting to reach with this new showcase and what makes it different from CEBIT?

CEBIT was a horizontal trade show, which covered all digitalization themes of relevance to a global audience. By contrast, TWENTY2X is much more focused than that. Its catchment area is the DACH region – i.e. Germany, Austria, Switzerland – and it is B2B, only. What’s more, it is targeted exclusively at business and IT decision-makers and experts from SMEs and family-owned companies.

On the exhibitor side, it is likewise largely designed for small and medium sized IT providers, the reason being that SME providers are often in a better position to understand the needs of SME users. Having said that, there will also be some big-name exhibitors fronting up with their in-house experts, products and solutions. These exhibitors will, however, fully focus on topics of relevance to SMEs, such as solutions for streamlining business processes, security applications, innovative systems promising immediate, real-word gains and e-government solutions.

What exactly do you mean when you say that TWENTY2X is targeted specifically at the SME sector? How will this concept be embodied at the show?

It will be reflected in the exhibits, in the conference topics and in our focus on providers and users from the SME sector. Deutsche Messe can draw on decades of experience with technology and IT themes. This puts us in an excellent position when it comes to organizing B2B events that bring together small and medium providers and users of digital technologies, hence our decision to cater for the needs of this market with this highly focused, tailor-made showcase.

How else will TWENTY2X differ from competing shows, and what enhancements will it feature over previous formats?

For one thing, we opted to do away with any physical separation between the different elements of the show, i.e. the exhibition, conference and networking parts. We will also be helping each of our exhibitors and event partners to ideally leverage the various offerings in line with their particular objectives. TWENTY2X will span two exhibition halls and the Convention Center located right next door. The presentation stages and networking areas will be largely integrated into the exhibition. This makes it much easier for visitors to navigate the show. For instance, it enables them to pay quick visits to exhibitors’ stands in between lectures or networking events. It also makes for a much more fluid transition between the show’s elements. In other words, just like in a real marketplace, visitors can continually alternate between listening to and talking about the themes they are interested in and viewing the exhibits of relevance to them.

We have also developed a number of new event formats. In our “IT battles”, two competing providers go head to head and the audience decides which one has the better solution. Providers and users will give joint best-practice presentations where SMEs can see what their more advanced peers have already achieved and how this benefits them. Then there will be so-called working lunches and speed dating events that are designed to facilitate easy networking.

Why has Deutsche Messe decided to launch a new IT and digital solutions show so soon after its decision to discontinue CEBIT?

When we made that decision we were already confident that we could leverage our network and expertise to develop new event formats for the digital industry. In the course of many discussions with providers and users we realized that the discontinuation of CEBIT has left a real vacuum, especially for the SME sector. When we sounded out the market about our idea for TWENTY2X, there was an immediate, palpable excitement and it didn’t take us long to flesh out a clear set of requirements. In the SME sector, there is no time to waste, and companies have a no-nonsense approach to business. That was the clear message from the CEOs, CIOs, users and decision-makers we spoke to. We consulted our cooperation partners and primarily SME-focused industry associations, such as bitmi, BVDS, BVMW, eco and VOICE, and worked with them on developing the new format.

We also jointly distilled the key themes and technologies associated with digital transformation. The exhibition areas and the conference will be focused on enabling companies to develop new business models and processes. They will also cover key product and service innovations and new organizational structures that make companies more agile when it comes to responding an increasingly competitive market environment.

It’s not unusual in this digital age to hear criticisms of traditional tradeshow formats. Why are such shows still a good idea?

It’s true that we are competing with other channels for information, business and networking. But none of them are as effective and efficient as trade shows. Germany’s Zukunftsinstitut (“Future Institute”) refers to trade shows as “touchpoints of the future” for the B2B sector, and maintains that people want to experience brands first hand and at an emotional level. It also states that trade shows are by far the most targeted and efficient way for companies to generate new customers, deepen relationships with existing ones and raise awareness of their offerings.

I would also add that digitalization is a matter of survival for SMEs. Unfortunately, each day, the media are replete with IT hype and horror stories and with wildly differing opinions from renowned and self-appointed IT gurus. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs, CEOs and IT managers are left to wonder: Who is right? What’s important? What does all this mean for us? Clearly, there is a need for an event such as TWENTY2X. We will bring order to chaos, helping companies sift through the jungle of information and provide real-world orientation. We’re committed to helping small and medium enterprises take major strides forward on their digitalization journeys.

Digitalization is many things to many people. Is it even possible to do justice to this far-reaching and complex topic in just three days?

Of course it is! We designed TWENTY2X to deliver relevant information, contacts and best practices in the shortest possible time. We set out to distill the essence of this hugely complex subject in order to provide visitors with the fastest pathway to a robust decision-making basis. That’s why we listened carefully and prioritized the most important topics in the exhibition and conference parts of the show: business management, new tech and startups, new work, security and sourcing. In the public administration area, we focused on the municipal sector – the SME sector of government if you will.

What are your expectations for this year’s show, and what will happen after it’s over?

The answer is quite simple: We plan to deliver a successful, compelling inaugural showcase that will delight our exhibitors, partners and visitors while also spawning fresh ideas for TWENTY2X 2021 and beyond. After all, the “X” in the show’s name is not a coincidence, but rather a sign of even more great things to come.