As you may already know, 2018 was a pivotal year for CEBIT for many reasons. The fair has undergone a complete makeover; you would hardly recognize it. After almost 50 years, the expo not only changed its name by capitalising every letter (CeBIT has transformed to become CEBIT), it also changed its scheduling, opting for a summery festival feel in June instead of its regular dates in March. CEBIT took place this year from June 11th to 15th. The space was divided into four themed areas and with two stages, one of which was explicitly for DJs, it definitely looked like a festival! The transformation was clear to see and CEBIT 2018 had a very different vibe.

IBM at CEBIT 2018

What about IBM? Mirroring our own transformation, we also showcased a very different experience of IBM than ever before. This year we were located in Pavillons 34 & 35 and in the open-air section, along with IBM Interactive Experience (iX),, and Aperto, too! Our experience zones provided visitors with optimum interaction with our various focus technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud, the Internet of Things, Quantum Computing, Security, and Systems. The hands-on approach resonated with the crowd, our Pavillons were always buzzing with visitors. Some of the IBM highlights included: CIMON, the Crew Interactive Mobile companion, who will be supporting German astronaut Alexander Gerst in the International Space Station. CIMON is a robotic head infused with IBM Watson which will float around the ISS, acting as a digital assistant, to reduce stress for the astronauts and simultaneously improve safety and efficiency on-board. Another hit was a model Quantum Computer, a real eye-catcher!

Opening Night Keynote

IBM Chairman, President, and CEO Ginni Rometty gave a punchy keynote on the opening night of the festival, explaining how companies can use Artificial Intelligence responsibly to make the most of this current era of digital transformation and exponential growth in the quantity of data. Ginni shared how IBM offers AI-based solutions, with both Public and Private Cloud Platforms, both built on data and designed to be extendable. She emphasized the priority Open Source has, as well as our responsibility for data stewardship, and our attitude to learning and skills development. Ginni believes 100% of jobs will be affected by technology. She also responded to the fear that AI will take jobs away and explained IBM’s approach: that machines are augmenting humans and their work, rather than replacing them. Watch Ginni Rometty’s keynote from CEBIT 2018.

Our motto: let’s put smart to work.

IBM Code Joint Meetup

Fernando Cejas presenting the art of coding mistakes and failures at CEBIT 2018

Another example of where transformation and continuous improvement is critical for success is in programming. This was the reason why on Thursday June 14th, we brought the Hannover technical community together, with meetups such as the C++ and Java User Groups in Hannover to mingle and share experiences. We were also joined by students and CEBIT attendees who dropped by.
Our topic was writing better code, IBM Developer Advocate Fernando Cejas is convinced that learning from your mistakes is the key to improving. Fernando gave an engaging talk which demonstrated how we can learn from our mistakes. Together we explored the different types of mistakes we come across in Software Engineering, such as: product mistakes involving the design and ideas, process mistakes in releases or management, and of course the mistakes in coding.

Code is communication between people (that incidentally runs on a computer).
– Fernando Cejas

Fernando Cejas at CEBIT 2018 IBM Code Berlin meetup

Fernando began the discussion by turning back the clock and asking the audience if they remembered writing their first lines of code, there’s another transformation, from beginning to experienced programmer. Mistakes do happen, especially with code. As we begin this journey of learning to code and to fix bugs and mistakes, we have to have the right approach to failure. That’s when Fernando shared a famous quote from Albert Einstein: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new“, which challenges our perception and fear of failure. Then Fernando went on to recount a specific time he made a mistake, describing what caused the mistake, how he felt, what he thought, and interestingly who he turned to. He recommends having a hero, his mom came to the rescue and told him: may the force of failure be with you. These words and this powerful message stuck with him. How we handle mistakes both as individuals and as a team, reveals a lot about a person.

Fernando gave many practical examples of how we can write better code. He stressed the importance of refactoring, naming things well, and encouraged using both Functional and Object-Oriented Programming techniques to improve. Fernando even recommended analysing our behaviour at the process level, in order to write higher quality code and software. After sharing good practices, he challenged the audience to re-frame how they perceive mistakes and failures, re-framing them as learning opportunities… which are also important to share!
Our audience were a little surprised to hear such a presentation from an IBMer, much like CEBIT our transformation means a lot of change Check out Fernando’s slides on SpeakerDeck. To close, Fernando left the audience with these powerful words: may the force of failure be with you!

Call for Code

Whilst we had this mix of technological and creative minds under one roof in our Cloud Dome, we shared the news of a recently launched global challenge. What is the Call for Code?
Call for Code asks developers to build for the greater good, to create tools to solve problems involving humanitarian crises, taking the best IBM has to offer in AI, Blockchain, IoT, and more to build solutions overcoming the threats and health risks stemming from natural disasters. IBM has partnered with the American Red Cross, the United Nations Human Rights Office, and the Linux Foundation amongst others. “We cannot attempt to prevent earthquakes from happening or prevent hurricanes from happening around the globe,” said Bob Lord, IBM’s Chief Digital Officer, via Fortune “But what we can do is unleash our tools and other tools so developers can help geographic regions get prepared for those natural disasters that happen.”
This is an open source initiative echoing Ginni’s keynote, supported by the Linux Foundation, which gives the 22 million developers around the world an opportunity to build technology that literally saves and improves lives.

Andrea Overthun introduced the audience to the global challenge, explaining its context and how the competition will run. This is a truly global project – over the next three months IBM will hold hundreds of events across 50 cities around the world, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo, Austin to Amsterdam, Bangalore, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Dubai. The winning team will receive the first ever Call for Code Global Prize, a financial award, and will have access to longer – term support through IBM’s partnership with the Linux Foundation, as well as the opportunity to present their solution to leading venture capitalists to help secure funding to take their innovation to market.

Andrea Overthun introduces the Call for Code Call for Code

What else?

We also took the opportunity to check out everything else that IBM had to offer at the new CEBIT. Outside there were deck chairs to recline and enjoy the sun, a pool filled with balls which was very popular, and The Cloud Lifter was an impressive experience, but not for the faint-hearted! 32 seats raised around 70 meters into the… Cloud! (see what we did there?) for a fantastic view of the festival grounds and surroundings.

About Fernando Cejas
Fernando Cejas (android10) is a self-proclaimed geek and curious learner, specializing in engineering and Android, as an IBM Developer Advocate he enjoys sharing his passion for technology, lessons learned, and knowledge. Interview: Fernando Cejas on coding disasters
Personal Blog

Discover more
CEBIT Keynote: Ginni Rometty
Matthias Hartmann at CEBIT

Call for Code
IBM Newsroom: Call for Code

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