Once again, the mobile world is getting ready for the most important mobile event of the year, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which will take place in Barcelona from March 2 to 5. In my role as analyst with a focus on CIO requirements, I expect the following themes to dominate this year's show:
- Everybody will talk about data — and many about data privacy. The long-anticipated marriage between big data and mobility is finally happening. I expect just about every vendor at MWC will claim a stake in these mobile data wedding arrangements. However, many big data business models remain building sites, and it remains far from clear which players will benefit via which types of business models. The growing awareness of regulatory constraints on the use of customer data as well as what the Financial Times recently called the "creepiness quotient", i.e., hyper-personalized advertising, further complicate a convincing business model for mobile analytics on a mass scale. Despite all the hype, mobile data is one of the must-focus areas for CIOs who attend MWC.
- Use case discussions will at last take over from technology pitches. More and more business-line managers without technical expertise are getting involved in the decision-making process for mobile technology solutions. Accordingly, technology vendors have communicated the benefits of their solutions in a language normal people understand. In the past, MWC failed to achieve this, in my opinion. In 2015, many traditional vendors will deliver their engineering and software developer pitches, but I am much more hopeful leading vendors will start to talk about business solutions rather than technology. Ideally, CIOs and business-line managers should spend time together at MWC to discover the opportunities that mobile presents to their organizations.
- Vendors will start to hype 5G. I expect network infrastructure vendors to start hyping the "huge" opportunities that 5G will bring to telcos in the form of cost savings, network efficiencies, and new business models. I am looking forward to see what the likes of Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei have to demonstrate in the 5G space. But I remain cautious about the 5G pitch in the absence of clear technology specifications, let alone any working 5G devices. More importantly, at this stage I see very few business case scenarios that would justify the significant investments that are necessary for 5G. CIOs should listen and learn about 5G possibilities but not get worked up about 5G opportunities.
- Mobile digital ecosystems in the B2B space will be the white elephant at MWC. There is a growing importance of digital mobile ecosystems beyond the “classic” Android versus iOS B2C arena. Businesses must prepare for better mobile moments when dealing with business customers. However, I expect few coherent discussions of mobile digital ecosystems at MWC. I see opportunities for those vendors and end users who are helping to build mobile ecosystems for business customers in both the horizontal and vertical areas. At MWC, visionary CIOs should search out discussions that deal with mobile digital ecosystems, including those held at the Industry Segments & Trends presentations.
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