When the leading brands, experts and nearly 100,000 others from countries all over the world descend on Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2018, they do so with a lot on their minds. It’s a new age for the mobile industry. Digital transformation in many industries is well under way and it is having a tremendous impact on how we connect to each other and interact with the digital economy. In fact, many of the core topics of MWC from previous years have moved away from the potential impact of new technology towards real-world applications – take artificial intelligence (AI) for example. In today’s digital-first environment, AI has moved from being just a cool idea to practical tools that have added a new level of convienence, service and entertainment to our lives. Expect to see AI dominating the conversation at MWC 2018. Although the show is a showcase for new technology, I hope that we will also see a focus on business model transformation and how technology enables it, rather just than the technology itself. Consequently I think three topics will also spark conversation in and around the show:
- The 4th Industrial Revolution: Between connected devices, homes and now cities, today’s mobile consumer has quickly embraced the Internet of Things (IoT). Just as AI was the trend to watch last year, the potential of the IoT will be front and center at MWC18. The integration of these next generation tools on a societal scale – known colloquially as the 4th Industrial Revolution – means that CSPs are part of a fundamentally different type of ecosystem, so backend systems and customer forward interfaces need to be ready for the next wave of IoT compatibility.
- The Digital Consumer: What is driving changing CSP strategy is that the core consumer persona is very different than just five years ago. They’re tech savvy, vocal, and connected. Now, due to a fierce competitive landscape and emerging technologies, the new expectation is that of a highly personalized experience, including packages that are tailored to individual interests and a customer service infrastructure that prioritizes efficiency and transparency. Look for plenty of conversation around the next wave of customer engagement strategies.
- Innovation: The appeal of Mobile World Congress year after year – other than the beautiful views of Barcelona, of course – is that it turns up some of the most original new ideas that are enabled by mobile technology. The growth over the last few years of the parallel Four Years from Now (4YFN) startup conference in Barcelona as well as a growing local ecosystem of entrepreneurs is an example of this and for me, seeing some of those VC pitches was a highlight of 2017. Not only that but there were some great examples of corporate innovation last year that brought together partners from disparate corners of the global economy. Looking out for those innovative ideas and identifying how CSG can help enable them will be a primary focus for me over the course of the week.
As always, the perennial question of the role of CSPs in the digital economy will underlie these themes and how to balance investment in core services with new opportunities such as IoT. And each year, the scope of MWC becomes broader and the complexity greater (as well as the challenge of absorbing it all)!
At Mobile World Congress, CSG, its customers and partners will be on site to join the discussion – offering our point of view on the evolving landscape. Interested in meeting with a CSG or partner executive to dive deeper? Sign up here: http://info.csgi.com/MWC2018
For more from my home city of Barcelona and my views on the show as it unfolds, follow me here: https://www.csgi.com/events/mobile-world-congress-2018/