Digital Solutions for Multi-Location Brands and Franchises

MWC 19 in Barcelona – From Foldable Smartphones to the 4th Industrial Revolution

For those that don’t know, Barcelona has five seasons. Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer…and Mobile World Congress (MWC) season.

For us local Barcelonians, it’s a week of overfilled metros, swarms of people in business outfits, no spots at our favorite restaurants, no available taxis, and so on and so on…

As you can tell, some of us are not so fond of it. But, if you’re interested in the latest tech trends you might feel differently.

MWC used to be a modest mobile technology conference with around 5,000 visitors, but it has recently transformed into a must-attend innovation phenomenon where over 100,000 visitors, 2,400 exhibitors, and dozens of top-notch speakers share their predictions on everything mobile.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a day pass to last year’s MWC (entry fees range from 500 to 4500 Euros) in order to mingle with experts from all over the world. We discussed how mobile technology continues to be impacted by machine learning, augmented reality, big data, IoT and 5G.

And it seems that all the talk from last year has transformed MWC 2019 into a world of new devices and new network architectures. Here’s a closer look at these technologies and how they’ll impact the future of marketing.

 

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The 4th Industrial Revolution

As we look at the innovation in mobile technology, it’s important to consider the broader impact these trends have on human civilization. Interestingly, MWC has many leaders considering whether or not we are in the midst of a 4th Industrial Revolution.

More so than ever before, humans are producing more, faster and with huge advances in mobile. And the way we approach problem-solving has changed drastically.


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An easy way to understand the 4th Industrial Revolution is to examine transportation and traffic solutions of the 20th century versus how we look at these issues in 2019.

Traditionally, to decrease traffic gridlock, civic leaders would simply create additional lanes. Sounds logical, right? The more lanes there are, the more cars can flow through to their destination. It turns out that the more lanes you have, the more lane changes there are, thus causing more congestion.


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The 21st-century solution is to think about automobiles differently: Do we need to own cars? Will they drive by themselves? Can we have cars on demand?

This thinking can be applied to any industry or vertical: anywhere you need a way to do things faster and more efficiently you’ll find the digitalization of industry.

This next industrial revolution will be a link between the physical and virtual worlds – the same shift we’re seeing mobile technology.

Thanks to advanced hardware and predictive analytics, Siemens, for example, went from selling wind turbines and components to selling ‘energy as a service’.

They retain responsibility for the ongoing performance of the wind turbines and their SLAs are based around the uptime of the machines. This provides them with a much more predictable income stream and aligns their incentives with those of their clients.


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5G is more than just a faster smartphone

5G is a software-defined network. Which means that even if it doesn’t replace cables entirely, it could replace the need for them by largely operating on the cloud instead. This means 5G will be to 20x faster than 4G. This type of innovation will affect more than just your Netflix streams on your mobile phone.

Self-driving cars, for example, require a continuous stream of data. The quicker that information is delivered to autonomous vehicles, the better and safer they can run.

5G will also provide a much more personalized web experience using a technique called network slicing. It is a way of creating separate wireless networks on the cloud allowing users to create their own network.

This will also benefit businesses. At big events like MWC19, for example, there is a large influx of people in one particular area using data-heavy applications. But with 5G, organizers could increase their slice of the network, boosting its capacity and thus improving its visitors’ online experience.

 

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My smart kettle is a threat to my security

Of course, while I could tell you about the mind-blowing new connected devices that have been showcased at MWC19, what concerns me more is the increasing risk of digital fraud.

More connected devices means more entry points to our private data.

I am not alone in my fears of having my privacy hacked. Manufacturers know that the security of personal data is the consumer’s main concern in the adoption of IoT devices.

Still, I have the feeling that not enough time is dedicated to that topic when we look at how fast those devices go-to-market.


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Imagine buying a connected kettle (I mean who needs this?)

If this connected device isn’t properly secured, a hacker could easily break into your home network, change your wifi password, and potentially activate your computer’s camera and microphone. We’ve all heard those horror stores.

Although this sounds scary, there is a ton of potential for marketers and engineers to safely advertise and create products with security in mind.

Marketers could potentially use something as silly as a smart kettle to serve you offers based on your tea selections or whether or not it’s flu season… This is huge!

Chris Autry, CEO of Iothic, said at a Keynote during MWC 19 that a major part of the problem is that devices at the edge of the network are “quite dumb” and lack the computing power to support the Advanced Encryption Standard.

MWC unveiled tons of new connected devices which will be pushed to the market in the next few years and therefore will be “extremely cost sensitive” and come with just enough computing power to function.

 

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Big Data for marketing insurance and healthcare industries

An important topic for this year’s MWC was how big data has disrupted the healthcare industry. Health tracking is great for the consumer BUT the data generated from your FitBit today is the fuel for predictive analysis for businesses tomorrow.

Big Data can be a great way to save costs for hospitals that either over or under book staff members. This data can predict the admission rates and help with staff allocation which helps reduce the Rate of Investment incurred by hospitals. In fact, data helps hospitals utilize their investment to the max.


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The insurance industry can save money by backing wearables and health trackers to ensure that patients do not spend time in the hospital. It can save wait times for patients since the hospital will have adequate staff and beds available as per the analysis all the time.

The future looks also bright for marketers that rely on data. Data is now collected at so many different touch points. It’s not only the smartphone now, but all connected devices – from kettles to blood pressure devices to kids’ toys.

The customer expects to be addressed according to her very individual interests, needs, conditions, time of the day, circumstances, and immediate desires. Content on websites may change depending on who visits them from where and when. The same with ads, pricing etc.

Basically: The ad for something (that you don’t know you need yet) has already been created and waiting to pop up on one of your connected devices, as AI predicts that you will want this. Creepy!

The target group is long gone…The future is the “predictable target individual.”

 

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MWC19 – So what’s next?

The foundation has been set to enhance customer engagement through super-fast mobile broadband, support IoT solutions with massive machine-type communications, and open new business opportunities with reliable and low-latency communications.

Before I wrap it up, I realized I did not mention one of the hottest innovations at the MWC19:

The foldable smartphone.


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$2,000 for this little toy. Really?


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I only fold my slice of pizza before taking a bite…

What was your favorite innovation on this year’s MWC2019? What do you find mind-blowing, boring, or scary?

 

Soraya Bourebaba is a Strategic Partner Lead based out of Europe and a contributing columnist to the PowerChord blog. She is obsessed with turtles and takes hers everywhere – including hiking trips and trips to the supermarket.

 

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