Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An Exhibitors' View of MWC 2017

Mobile Marketing - Sponsored by: Giant iTab

Mark Jones, founder and managing director of Giant iTab, details his time at the industry's biggest trade show and conference, and the technology he saw that impressed him.

After supporting over 500 shows over the last five years, MWC 2017 certainly ranks as one of the biggest trade show events I have ever been to, or that our company has ever taken part in.

Here we were standing on the shoulders of giants, with the chance of meetings with big players in mobile such as Samsung, Huawei, IBM, Cheetah Mobile and Google, and the opportunity of listening to keynote speakers including Rajeev Suri, José María Álvarez-Pallete López, Stéphane Richard and Reed Hastings.

More than 108,000 attendees flocked to Mobile World Congress. Professionals from 208 countries and territories were present, and the event was covered by approximately 3,500 members of the international press and media. More than 2,300 companies participated in the 2017 exhibition, which spanned nine halls and eleven outdoor spaces at Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc.

Perhaps this is why our very own UK Minister for Trade and Investment, Greg Hands, took time out of his busy schedule to visit the UK pavilions at MWC 2017, pushing the boat out for emerging UK export companies under the now familiar banners of ‘Technology is Great’ and ‘Business is Great’. Here is the UK government acknowledging and showing their support for the growing importance of UK companies and mobile technology.

The mobile is now probably the most significant single device on the planet today. This was one of our predictions, seven years ago, when we set out to recreate giant interactive tablets and smartphones from large touchscreens, enabling more cohesive and connected marketing presentations using touch. Now you can have a touchscreen considerably bigger than your own phone to showcase, market and present your apps and mobile content, recreating exactly the same familiar user experience as your handheld devices, but on a bigger scale.

No longer satisfied with just 3G or 4G? Well, now 5G connectivity is being seriously talked about as a forthcoming network, and major step-up in creating better connectivity of mobile devices when no wi-fi or hard wired connections exist.

With the advent of 5G, new opportunities are coming to send richer, more enticing content. Whether this comes as the latest apps, ad banners, videos or social media, it is the content we receive and disseminate through our mobile devices which keeps us coming back for more, and as that continues to evolve, it will enable marketers to produce more detailed, targeted and relevant communications.

The ability to deliver digital media to mobile devices is also having an impact on environmental sustainability.  Even the scanning devices supplied by GSMA contributed towards this, not only recording digital versions of attendee information, replacing the need for exchanging business cards, but also delivering product brochures to delegates’ mobile phones whose badges we scanned, thus saving on time and print costs (and stopping that bin on the way out of the show getting full way too early in the day).

The GSMA, which sponsors the UN’s sustainable development goals, stated on posters around the show that “as an industry, we can leverage the mobile networks we’ve built and the services we deliver to help achieve the UN sustainable goals” – a fantastic and noble goal.

Beyond conventional mobile, the future impact of drones was emphasized at this year’s MWC. The number of drone exhibitors was significant, many advertising the all-important ability to manage and control fleets of drones using mobile devices. Imagine the potential here for managing deliveries of postage, parcels and medicines.

Couple this with the latest global mapping solution from firms like What3Words, which effectively maps the whole planet into tiny 3m x 3m segments, and you can imagine us now having the capability to drop urgent medical supplies into a drought zone in the deserts of Kenya, and do so to an exact location no bigger than three square metres in locations where no GPS or roads maps even exist.

Having left Barcelona and MWC exhausted but full of new ideas, I was to be impressed by mobile technology once more, this time by Norwegian Airways, who enabled everyone on our plane to continue their ‘always-on’ connected lives by offering superb quality on-board wi-fi at 30,000 feet. Now, what would the Wright Brothers have thought about that?