The foolproof survival guide to Mobile World Congress

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McCann Worldgroup's chief technology catalyst for EMEA offers his tips for what to expect in Barcelona

OK, so "survival guide" might be a little strong. After all what’s not to like about being in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress? Hardly a taxing experience to be in one of the greatest cities in Europe, you would say.

And this year will no doubt be a record one for exhibitors and attendees, with many of these attendees coming from a diverse range of industries. So whether you plan to attend or not, here are three essential perspectives and corresponding truths to help transform this potential technology overload into relevant, actionable information.

Principle 1: Power to the people? It’s coming through their OS. One of the biggest factors in the success of mobile (and its unsung hero in my view) is the role the operating system has played in organizing and managing our experiences.

However, now the OS is breaking out of its boundaries. No longer is it just the thing that makes our mobile or smartphone work; it is becoming the interface that will connect our increasingly digital lives together, opening new opportunities for consumers and brands alike. Why is this important? As consumer habits change and we look to new platforms to engage with consumers, the OS is perhaps the thing we will need to use.

Transformational truth: Move from apps to "micro-moments."

The other reason the OS is becoming more important is that many are now seeing the need for an evolution from apps, which continue to be very siloed experiences, into what is being referred to as micro-moments. First mentioned by Forrester in its mobile development report, this is where both functionality and the data from your interactions in apps are being combined and elevated to the notification layer to be used at the right time, place or moment you need them. This is critical to realizing the future of bringing our connected life together and improving the customer experience, to ultimately making it useful.

Principle 2: Can wearables make you sick? Everyone is either launching or thinking of launching a wearable these days, and I mean everyone. However, are we all getting a bit sick of talking about it? Certainly with global wearable unit sales expected to reach $30.9 million in 2015 (up 61% from last year), the really big question that will hang over all of the near-endless updates of smartwatches and new wearable devices at MWC is, when Apple have proved that services are the way to sell hardware, what is the killer use case?

Transformational truth: Go from wearables to personal mesh.

A possible solution for the category is to not just think about the hardware but also the glue that sticks every thing together. This means evolving from talking about just wearables to the idea of personal mesh, which is defined in two parts. The first part is about enabling your personal cloud, where more data and interactions across devices will be stored and used to make your cloud smart. The second is about enabling the mesh environment that connects to your cloud through either WiFi or BlueTooth using beacons, smart hubs, your wearable or devices at home.

Principle 3: Is this the year for your connected life? In the same way that for many years people asked, "Is this is the year of mobile?" the same is now being asked about the "connected life." With the appearance of production-ready examples of the connected home, car or object now at these technology shows the priority for brands of all kinds is to understand what role you should play as part of this. Why? Because, as we all search for these new communication platforms, the connected life could be the next big opportunity.

Transformational truth: Invest in the new "digital economies."

The real opportunity as our lives become connected is to understand the digital economies that are evolving and will continue to do so, as a consequence of the connected life. Whether it’s the reputation economy (where your online reputation could become a currency that will be more powerful than your credit history) or the collaboration economy (where, through technology and by massing the power of the crowd whole new opportunities to reach global markets can be reached). There is huge opportunity in finding a role for your brand.

So between seeing some fantastic new technology products and hearing brilliant experts wax lyrical on many hot topics around the mobile ecosystem, the upcoming MWC promises to offer brand marketers some important new pathways to connecting with their customers. As David Berkowitz, CMO of MRY, wisely said recently in an article about CES, "Electronics are the gateway to the consumer." As we get close to this essential truth, what is your plan?

Mark Jackson is chief technology catalyst, EMEA, at McCann Worldgroup.

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