2017 Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA): Top Sessions & Takeaways

Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) has come and gone. This year, more than 21,000 attendees from 110 countries and territories attended the show, bringing with them innovative ideas to push the mobile industry into the future.  The three-day event featured exhibitions, conference sessions, GSMA summits and seminars, partner programs and exclusive networking events, including over 200 speakers and more than 39 hours of content. We’ve highlighted some of the top […]

Security executive Richard Stiennon has previously held roles such as Chief Strategy Officer of Blancco Technology group from 2016-2017 and Vice President of Research at Gartner Inc. from 2000 to 2004. Currently, Richard is a cyber security lecturer at Charles Sturt University in Australia and Director of the International Data Sanitization Consortium. His most recent book, There Will Be Cyberwar, was named a Washington Post bestseller in April 2016. Richard is regularly featured in news publications such as Forbes, Dark Reading, Infosecurity Magazine, Network World and BetaNews, where he comments on data governance, data management and cyber security.

Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) has come and gone. This year, more than 21,000 attendees from 110 countries and territories attended the show, bringing with them innovative ideas to push the mobile industry into the future.  The three-day event featured exhibitions, conference sessions, GSMA summits and seminars, partner programs and exclusive networking events, including over 200 speakers and more than 39 hours of content.

We’ve highlighted some of the top takeaways from the event below.

Today’s Mobile Experience: Where Are We Headed? 

MWCA is all about moving mobile into the future. The initial keynote at the event featured speakers Carlos Slim Domit of America Movil, Meredith Baker of CTIA and Ajit Pai of FCC. Here are some of the key takeaways from the session:

  • North America stands out as early adopter of new technologies. IoT connections are forecast to reach 6 billion by 2020.
  • 5G will be 84 percent of all connections by 2020.
  • Companies like Uber, GM, Ford and Mercedes are all trying to advance technology with autonomous vehicles.
  • Mobile subscriptions were up 5% last year – putting mobile penetration at 124%.
  • Smart cities are gaining momentum, especially in large cities that are doing smart transport, smart street lighting, smart public safety, etc.
  • Artificial intelligence solutions are also beginning to gain momentum. AI will play important role in processing enormous amounts of data generated by IoT solutions.
  • 5G will be a game changer. 100x faster. 100x the number of devices. 5x as responsive. It will make every industry and every part of our lives better.
  • 5G will introduce entirely new immersive forms of education; field trips don’t need permission slips or long bus rides.
  • Winning the global race to 5G is important for technological advancement. It will require new networks built on small cell technologies placed on street lamps and networks.
    • We need buy-in from every level for gov’t to put small cells in more places, faster and at affordable costs.
    • We need more action by states, mayors, congress for 5G infrastructure. The FCC must give clear direction to localities to promote investment.
    • If we get it right, the wireless industry will invest $275 billion in 5G.

Mobile technologies are constantly evolving. Read our latest State of Mobile Device Performance and Performance and Health report to see how the world’s most popular mobile devices performed in Qw of 2017.

Mobile & Automotive: a Fruitful Partnership

Another standout session at the event was “Autonomous Cars and Vehicles as a Service,” which featured speakers Jhunting Zhao of AIMOTIVE, Alex Manea of BlackBerry and James Dawson of Cisco Jasper and was moderated by Barbara Peng of BI Intelligence. The session outlined how mobile devices integrate with automotive systems and how those technologies are evolving. The session also raised some very interesting questions. Here are some of those questions that must be considered as mobile technologies evolve:

  • How do we secure types of connected cars today, but also as we move to autonomous vehicles?
  • If a fully autonomous car is in an accident, who is at fault? It’s a complex situation.
  • Will the ultimate responsibility for autonomous accidents lie with the company designing the software operating the vehicle?
  • Will autonomous cars start to feature “black boxes” in the same way that aircrafts do?
  • How will autonomous technology impact the trucking industry?
  • Will Michael Cottle of RideCell’s prediction come true? He predicts that autonomous vehicles will arrive by June 6, 2018 (on campuses) and January 21, 2021 on public roads (including public services).
  • How will the popularity of autonomous vehicles spread? How long will it take them to spread from use in big cities to rural neighborhoods?

Our Chief Strategy Officer, Richard Stiennon, recently contributed to several pieces online on the topic of mobile devices and automotive security. It’s interesting that security was not highlighted more as part of this session.

Mobile Retail Continues to Evolve

One of our favorite sessions at the event was “The Retail Experience (Consumer IoT),” featuring speakers Rajan Sheth of Google and Greg Chambers of Coca Cola, with Paul Brown of Strategy Analytics moderating. In the session, the following issue was posed: When you walk into a store, you get to see things, touch them, try them on, etc. But you also feel anonymous; the store doesn’t know much about you, and you may or may not know much about it. So how can mobile businesses bring the experiences people love online to the retail store? And how can they use connected devices to do so?

The stats aren’t looking good for in-store retail experiences. There has been a 60 percent decline in store visits over the past five years, despite a 17 percent increase in overall retail sales over the same period. The good news is that 59 percent of consumers still prefer in-store experience over e-commerce, and there has been a 3x increase in value of each in-store visit from 2012-2017. Here are some of the ideas top retailers have to improve the in-store experience:

  • Use (virtual reality) VR to see how furniture would look in your house while in a furniture store.
  • Personalize the in-store experience with beacon notifications even if customers don’t have your app.
  • Use machine learning to figure out what kinds of things people are gravitating to in-store and what they’re not.
  • Utilize in-aisle devices to promote key products or facilitate online purchases of out-of-stock items.
  • Use an internet browser for digital signage or mobile POS.
  • Create customer apps using App Engine or Firebase.
  • Connect with GCP to facilitate in-store online purchases while accurately attributing retail demand to adjust future allocations.
  • Make checkout convenient and personalize customer service by providing devices to associates.
  • Improve onboarding and education opportunities with shared devices and cloud-based resources.
  • Use location intelligence to drive business decisions.
  • Use heat maps to determine what’s happening inside retail shops – the behavior of customers, products and staff.

Many of these ideas are already a reality, but others are still in development or have yet to be fully embraced. At next year’s MWCA event and at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, I expect these, and more, to be closer to fruition.

Download our Q2 2017 Mobile Device Performance and Health Report to learn how mobile performance has changed over time for today’s top phone companies, and stay tuned for additional updates about the mobile industry.

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