What To Expect From Mobile World Congress 2016?

From February 22 to 25, Barcelona will be the center of the business world. Do not expect a specific industry focus but expect announcements impacting any industry: from payments to automotive. Why? Because “mobile is everything”.

 

 

For me, the 2016 edition’s tagline means that mobile is still driving the most powerful change in consumer behaviors ever. It also means that mobile will remain at the center of new connected experiences. Smartphones have become a sort of black hole integrating a huge array of sensors, but mobile is now exploding back out to our environments. Sensors and connectivity are expanding beyond smartphones, on our wrists, bodies, cars, TVs, washing machines, but also in invisible places in buildings and the world around us. While there are lots of discussions about mobile simply being a subset of this broader Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, I believe mobile is the key to unlock IoT. We will hear a lot about this theme at MWC.

Unfortunately, most attendees will still be technology managers and vendors. The largest tech and marketing vendors will be at the show, releasing new solutions or announcing partnerships with more agile mobile-centric players. Mobile is redefining the vendor landscape. That's precisely because mobile is a catalyst for business transformation, and why we’ll see more business leaders and marketers attend the show. For marketers, let’s face it: MWC isn’t close to SXSW, Cannes Lions, ad:tech, or dmexco as a leading marketing and advertising event. However, there will be plenty of relevant announcements on how mobile will be a key driver of cross-channel marketing, commerce and payment initiatives. Underlying these trends, expect a greater emphasis this year on identity, privacy and security. Also, expect demonstrations on how mobile will start enabling brand innovation with Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial intelligence (AI).

Over the past few years, Mobile World Congress (MWC) has morphed from a B2B telecoms technology trade show to the one of the largest business conference around the globe. MWC and CES have a lot more in common than they used to. Both events are increasingly centered on tech innovation and the Internet Of Things (IoT). MWC is more global and more focused on the business impact of mobility while connected TVs and tech gadgets are more common in Las Vegas.

Don’t get me wrong. We will continue to hear too much about technology, from 5G to beacons. As always, this will be the Asian device fashion week with the new spring/summer device collection (e.g Samsung Galaxy S7, Huawei’s P9, HTC’s One M10, and many other devices and wearables). However, here I agree with my colleague Dan Bieler that this year will see more device commoditization than true innovation.

The value for business leaders and marketers is precisely to look beyond the media headlines: understanding how mobile is disrupting businesses, discovering mobile specialists offering advanced intelligence, attribution and engagement solutions, meeting innovative entrepreneurs gathered at 4YFN (4 Years From Now) connecting startups showcase, figuring out the dynamics of the app economy, and shifting the focus of innovation from the Silicon Valley to emerging countries.

You can follow me on Twitter during the event via @Thomas_Husson. If you are attending MWC and want to hear more about Forrester's activities during the event, please contact pmigalska@forrester.com.