Mobility is becoming pervasive in the enterprise. Smart devices, including wearables, are appearing in all sectors, both in developed and emerging markets. Businesses that fail to prepare for the mobile mind shift risk losing their competitive edge. I hope this year’s Mobile World Congress, which kicks off on February 24, will emphasize the interaction between business processes and mobility — in addition to the traditional gadgets.

I focus primarily on themes relating to the connected business and social collaboration, and I will travel to the world’s leading mobile event in Barcelona to gain new insights into several questions in these areas:

  • Will one mobile ecosystem emerge or will operating system (OS) silos live on? At this stage, I don’t see the emergence of one mobile ecosystem. I believe several ever-bigger ecosystems are likely to emerge rather than one truly open ecosystem. The launch of the China Operating System (COS) supports this view. Google and other large mobile ecosystem players like Apple and Microsoft will need to rethink their ecosystem strategies to improve the customer experience and collect data in areas outside their core market segments. And Google’s recent acquisition of Nest indicates that mobile ecosystems are about much more than just mobile phones.
  • To what extent is the privacy discussion entering the mobile space? If 2013 was the year of breaches of privacy and trust, 2014 could be the year of a “privacy fight-back.” Several companies are addressing the growing demand for privacy in the mobile context. For instance, Silent Circle will launch a “blackphone,” a fully encrypted smartphone. It will be interesting to see how consumers’ wishes for greater privacy match up with data-collection business models.
  • Can telcos reclaim segments of the value chain that they have lost to nontelco players? Over the years, telcos have lost a lot of the shine they once displayed at MWC. I do not expect telcos to present any game-changing offerings at MWC that would allow them to strengthen their position in the mobile value chain and become providers of real B2B and B2B2C solutions. Instead, with very few exceptions, I believe that telcos are increasingly being backed into a corner — becoming merely the providers of connectivity and resellers of hardware and software niches.
  • Will MWC address the cultural effects that mobility triggers? Macro trends in technology and shifting customer behavior are giving rise to the connected business — this is not defined by technology but is rather a new style of doing business. CIOs will be responsible for introducing technology solutions that help break down silos, boost cross-team collaboration, drive the end-to-end customer experience, and engage more deeply with customers. In order to succeed, CIOs must go beyond technology enablement and support organizational and cultural transformation. However, I expect the vast majority of vendors to only push hardware/software and offer little support in terms of true business transformation.

Compared with last year, I would like to see a greater focus by exhibitors on how mobility strengthens customer engagement, enhances customer experience, and empowers employees through contextual and relevant information.