Mobile World Congress Recap - 2018, The Year of Big Change?

Will Gibson, VP Sales & Marketing at Mobile World Congress 2018

Another year, another stunning week in beautiful Barcelona. While the artificial delights of Port Olimpic’s restaurant strips were packed once again, my own little oasis of heaven in the city of Gaudi is a simple breakfast in the market off Las Ramblas.

“Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria” is indeed a great way to start this hectic four-day event, and ‘heuvos con bacon’ was duly despatched to set the Maplewave team up for success on Day 1. And café con leche. Lots of café con leche!

Something’s Different…

At Maplewave, our core business is in providing systems that make telco retail work. As an omni-channel enabler, we are always present at the Mobility world’s flagship event, which this year drew crowds of 110,000 to the Fira Convention Centre. This year’s event was, in a lot of ways, very similar to last year. Same players, even the same design stands – but look deeper and a LOT had changed.

GONE – was the prolific sponsorship of the event. Last year, Huawei must have literally bought the Catalonian capital for a week – from the huge 100ft billboards on El Corte Ingles, to the fleet of branded black vehicles humming around the city. This year, the tone was much more muted and sombre, with no single headline sponsor pulling out as many stops as in previous years.

GONE – were the big launch parties and celebratory events that characterize each year. We saw Samsung launch the S9 on the Sunday, but even that was a much simpler affair than previously seen.
Is this a sign of the mobility world cutting its cloth to suit?

A Whole New World

OEM’s are no longer awash with growth and new form factors. Carriers are battling slowing growth and a tough change from legacy systems to digital platforms (eating profits). And start-ups have less VC capital after a decade of extravagant bets that burned the edges of a few. Maybe this is why the mood was, perhaps, a little more modest?

The big themes this year were all about the impending changes ahead. The explosion of IOT and inter-connectivity, and the new revenue opportunities that this would bring:

Connected Cars.
Connected Cities.
Connected ‘Things’.

The IOT is primed to take off like no-one can imagine.

IOT is Where It’s At

The global IOT market will grow from $157B in 2016, to $457B by 2020, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5%. Anyone up for that?

How to monetise this explosion is the question on everyone’s lips right now, and the billing platforms were very busy plotting and planning a route to enable this growth and release of capital.

The B2B revenue opportunity this industry has is unprecedented since the heady days of the pre-pay mobile explosion.

If all AT&T wants to talk about is how they are developing a dual-sim solution for connected cars that gives you seamless access to the latest maps AND your own content (and your passengers’) -then it really drove home to me the focus the big guys are putting towards these products and services. If they can monetise a billion connected water flow sensors to ensure no US cities suffer what Cape Town is going through right now – even at a micro finance rate of monetisation – you can just sense the revenue opportunities around the corner.

A Revolution Before Our Eyes

This is another Industrial Revolution – happening right before our eyes, make no mistake.

For our clients, who are large scale Enterprise Telcos, this growth will enable them to become more profitable and efficient, and trickle-down economic factors will also revolutionize their consumer businesses too!

Telcos cannot afford to ignore the consumer IOT market, and in a post-device world, consumer growth will be driven by connected everything. Toaster, exercise bike, TV, dog collar, Fitbit, shoes – all these devices will need both static (at home) and remote (out of home) connectivity.

The battle for consumer mind share, wallet share, and the ultimate profits associated with this sector will be won and lost in retail.

The experience, education and procurement of these devices needs to be handled by the Telco. It is paramount that they have a quick way to build complex orders and plans, track complex inventory sets, and then handle the shipping / collection needs of customers. Those Telcos who fail to move past their legacy systems onto new digital monetization and fulfilment platforms will be quickly left behind.

What Will 2019 Bring?

Mobile World Congress was a true blast once again, and 2019 promises to be even bigger as the monetization successes of the early adopters are understood, and everyone scrambles to find out how to do it themselves. It will be interesting indeed!

Get In Touch

If you’re ready to hear how Maplewave can prepare your omni-channel universe for the IOT age, drop us a line!

Offering insight and concrete solutions for telcos looking to take their business to the next level.

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