Hannover. Deutsche Messe's new IT trade show for small and medium-sized enterprises is ready to roll. The planning and prep work has been done, and the show is right on track for a successful premiere this March. "With its innovative format, its unequivocal positioning as a B2B event and its focus on the aspects of digitalization that really matter to small and medium-sized businesses, the show closes a gap in the tradeshow market," commented Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Andreas Gruchow. To date, more than 180 companies – including 35 startups – from 12 countries have registered as exhibitors for TWENTY2X. "In other words, we're right on target," said Gruchow. "These numbers show that our new tradeshow format is being warmly embraced by the market."

A tradeshow offering perfectly aligned with SME needs

The aim of TWENTY2X is to empower SMEs to take the digitalization steps they need to take in order to remain competitive and meet the heightened expectations of their customers. It will pursue this objective by giving SMEs highly relevant information on the products, services and tools they will need, plus real-world reference examples and opportunities for dialogue with industry peers. The offering ranges from data analysis tools, new work methods and social media strategies to solutions for managing online threats. Its core focus is on smart technologies and fully developed solutions that will help SMES to modernize their business models, develop innovative products and services, streamline their organizational structures, optimize their processes and leverage modern forms of collaboration.

SMEs as core customer group

With these things in mind, when it came time to develop and market the TWENTY2X concept, Deutsche Messe enlisted the support of several well-positioned partners who are champions of SME interests on both the supply and demand side of the IT market. Those partners are as follows: Germany's Federal Association of SME IT Companies (BITMi), the internet industry association eco, the German Association for the Digital Economy (BVDW), the German Association of Medium-Sized IT Service Providers and Software Developers for the Public Sector (DATABUND), the German Association of Small and Medium-size Enterprises (BVMW), the German IT Users Federation (VOICE) and the German Startups Association (BVDS). These partners will be running their own lounges and events at the show and will have input into numerous speaking events.

The majority of the exhibitors registered for TWENTY2X are either SMEs themselves or see SMEs as their most important customer segment. The DATABUND showcase alone will feature some 30 co-exhibiting organizations. Other SME-scale IT providers exhibiting at the show include Inotec, Synology, Grün Software and Topdesk. ECM provider DocuWare will also be there, and will be using its showcase to meet up with customers, partners and prospects. "For us, TWENTY2X is a very welcome development, because it means we once again have a B2B forum for the digital economy where we can connect with pre-qualified decision-makers from all industries and show them our cloud solutions for document management and workflow organization," said DocuWare's Vice President Sales DACH & Italy, Hermann Schäfer.

Alongside its core SME constituency, the upcoming TWENTY2X will feature a number of big players in the IT scene. Materna Information & Communications, for example, will be there with its own standalone display, and Dell and VMware will be profiling their respective offerings in a joint display along with Global Information Distribution.

Another big player, IBM, will be running a standalone display. Along with other respected industry experts, it will also be participating in the conference program with a strong focus on the key topics of block chain, the cloud, New Mobility, public security and New Work. "IBM will use TWENTY2X to show SMEs and startups how cloud computing and cloud solutions can make scalable business models successful," said Jan Fode, IBM's Head of Events DACH, IBM Global Markets, Marketing.

A space for informing, inspiring and sharing

For visitors, TWENTY2X is not just a marketplace for products, services and solutions; it is also a space for orientation, inspiration, knowledge sharing and comparing notes with industry peers. It features a diverse mix of special event formats held on five stages where, over the course of the show's three days, some 200 speakers will give presentations on key fundamentals, share real-world experiences, and take part in multi-perspective panel discussions, topic-specific summits and pitches. This part of the show includes innovative interactive formats that have been developed jointly by exhibitors and prospective attendees and which are tailored specifically to TWENTY2X as a B2B digital technology event for SMEs.

Speakers from politics, business and society

The opening session on the morning of Tuesday, 17 March, will include an address by Thomas Jarzombek, the Commissioner for the Digital Industry and Startups at Germany's Economic Affairs Ministry (BMWi). The Ministry, which will also be presenting at its own stand at TWENTY2X, is currently running an "SMEs Digital" initiative that is aimed at helping SMEs to better understand the challenges and opportunities of the digital economy and which supports them in the development and implementation of strategies for digital transformation. "This is something we take very seriously, because ultimately it is about strengthening the competitiveness of Germany's many small and medium-sized enterprises," Jarzombek said. "We need to be hungry for innovation, and we need to embrace new technologies with an open mind and see them as sources of new opportunities," he added.

Also on the Tuesday, author, internet entrepreneur and blogger Sascha Lobo will give an opening keynote titled "Digitalization in the SME segment – Where to from here?" He will be followed by Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Customers at Deutsche Telekom, who will give a keynote on business trends in infrastructure, cloud computing and mobility. On Wednesday, 18 March, free-thinker and former IBM Germany CTO Professor Gunter Dueck will take center stage. Dueck is a charismatic speaker known and valued for his forthright views on controversial topics. He is currently studying the changes taking place in the digital working world and is critical of what he sees as a culture of permanent control, the disproportionate importance attached to efficiency and the lack of time available for genuine innovation.

Exhibitors leveraging show's specially developed event formats

Many exhibitors have also registered for the show's special event formats – an innovative lineup of events designed to make it easier for attendees to engage with today's new digital technologies. The Best Practice Sessions, for example, are already fully booked. These are platforms for wide-ranging and creative dialogue in which technology users and their providers jointly take the stage and explain the success stories behind their digitalization projects. Similarly, the Speed Dating rounds, where attendees engage in rapid-fire discussion on pre-defined topics with representatives from startups and large, established companies, are nearly fully booked, with only a few slots left for exhibitors.

Also among the special event formats are the TWENTY2X Battles, where companies present their solutions to a pre-defined challenge in the course of three six-minute rounds. With the Working Lunches, TWENTY2X visitors get to learn about the product and service offering of an exhibitor while enjoying a free meal. And last but not least, there are the Platform Economy Ideas Workshops, where exhibitors, visitors and industry experts put their heads together to develop tomorrow's Internet-based business models.

TWENTY2X (17 - 19 March 2020) is a B2B event staged annually for the benefit of SME decision-makers and IT managers attending on behalf of companies based in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. TWENTY2X - focusses on the role of IT technologies in facilitating the digitization of SME business processes. The overall themes to be addressed: Business Management, Security Solutions, New Tech (incl. Startups), New Work, Sourcing Services and Public Administration.