Comptel is in the trenches in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, where the theme this year is all about living on the “Edge of Innovation.” Tens of thousands of attendees are here, all striving to explore how evolving mobile communications technology is changing the way we live, work and play.
We made our mark on MWC by launching our book Operation Nexterday at a special launch party Monday evening, and we were thrilled to share our game plan for the future of digital communications with a large crowd that turned out for drinks, tapas, and free copies of the book!
Some of the communications industry’s leading innovators and visionaries are in attendance for MWC, which is a big benefit to attendees who want to get a sense for how the industry is changing and where it is headed in the coming months and years. Here are three key takeaways we gathered from conference keynotes and sessions we attended:
1. Mobile Consumers Need Digital Confidence
In the event’s opening keynote on Monday morning, the chief executives from four of the world’s top operators – Telefónica, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telenor – shared their thoughts on how mobile will need to evolve to meet the demands of the future.
Panellist César Alierta, executive chairman and CEO of Telefónica, explained that nearly 43 percent of the world’s population – around 3 billion people – are connected to the Internet, and 90 percent of the world’s population is expected to have a mobile phone by 2020!
Each of these consumers will need to have “digital confidence,” or better control over their digital lives and privacy, explained Alierta. The industry will also need to support up to 50 billion new connected devices that make up the Internet of Things and the ‘industrial Internet.’
As a result, operators will need to embrace efficiencies that will enable millions of new customers to connect to the Internet and engage with new digital services. Alierta identified network quality, affordability and service attractiveness as potential areas of improvement for operators who anticipate a surge of new consumers.
2. Data Drives Context, Which Drives Mobile Opportunity
As we have discussed before, targeted marketing is one effective way to reach the digitally savvy Generation Cloud – but only 4 percent of enterprises have the resources, budget and promise to deliver on context and better serve customers, according to Andrew Harrison of Dixons Carphone. Harrison was one of eight panellists in a conference session that explored how businesses could gain the context needed to deliver engaging, personalised content to the right customer at the right time.
Panellist Peter Fitzgerald of Google UK described why context is so critical to the buying experience. Mobile means purchase opportunities arise regardless of location and situation, whether a consumer is at work, home or even sitting on a train checking their phone. Forty-two percent of consumers use their phone in a retail store to compare prices for a product they see on the shelf – a practice known as “showrooming” – but savvy retailers are taking the opportunity to reach these connected buyers by pushing relevant, in-the-moment offers to their devices right in the store, said Fitzgerald.
Businesses today can leverage contextual data to propel instantaneous, personalised offers, and mobile devices are the perfect starting point to find that data. Smartphones and tablets are at the centre of our digital worlds, and as a result, they’re an ideal resource for contextual consumer data.
3. It’s Mobile’s Moment. How Will You Connect Consumers?
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products at Google, described Google’s efforts to enable Internet connectivity for consumers around the world. As Pichai explained, consumers in the developed and emerging world may take connectivity for granted, but 4 billion people around the world currently lack access to the Internet.
Google’s efforts to expand connectivity include bringing Google Fibre to urban areas in Africa, and its Project Loon initiative, which uses a network of high-altitude balloons traveling in the Earth’s stratosphere to bring LTE speeds to rural areas around the world. Pichai also discussed the drone company Titan, a recent Google acquisition that designs lightweight solar-powered airplanes which act as “floating cell phone towers,” bringing connectivity to consumers below.
Pichai added that Google will work with operators to build services to deliver to newly connected consumers, but when asked how Google could justify its lofty infrastructure investments, he explained that “it’s mobile’s moment right now.” The bottom line? In the age of affordable connected devices, operators need to follow Google’s lead and embrace innovative ways of reimagining service infrastructure. Better-connected consumers present bigger business opportunities for the savvy service providers who can innovate in the new era of Generation Cloud.