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5 Takeaways from the 2017 Mobile World Congress

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The 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) was held in Barcelona, Spain last week. It is the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry and includes companies from across the spectrum of hardware, software, data, media agencies, ad-tech, platforms and much more. Here are some of the big topics from #MWC2017.

  1. Content and Context Marketing

    Publishers and brands are embracing context marketing – understanding that mobile smartphones and devices present novel ways of delivering content and engaging with their audiences.  They are turning to immersive experiences within the context of mobile – such as social live-broadcast video, 360-degree video, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) – as ways to reengage with audiences that have been blocking ads and demonstrating shortened digital attention spans.

    Mobile devices have taken the lead in allowing users to access these kinds of content with companies like Samsung providing the hardware (mobile-connected Gear VR headsets and 360 cameras) and companies like Facebook and Google building the software tools to consume the content (panorama experiences in your mobile newsfeed).

  1. 5G Mobile Networks

    3G was all about smartphone connections. 4G was all about mobile internet data. 5G is about much more than just mobile phones, including autonomous vehicles, smart cities & infrastructure, connected homes, and a huge growth of digital video. All of these “things” will require massive amounts of data — and the bandwidth to support all of this is the promise of 5G. It could be 30-50 times faster than today’s 4G networks and is predicted to connect 1.1 billion devices, gadgets, cars, and more by 2025.

    5G would enable speedy downloads of ultra-high-definition movies, remote maintenance of machinery in the field, long-distance surgery, widespread use of autonomous vehicles, and much more. Tech companies, mobile networks, and device manufacturers are all banding together to make 5G a reality by 2020.

  1. IoT: Internet of Things

    VR and 360-connected smartphones weren’t the only stars of the 2017 Mobile World Congress. IoT refers to connected devices, other than computers and smartphones, which use the internet to operate.  MWC had many devices on display from scales and heart monitors, to kitchen appliances and light fixtures, and watches to cars.

    Experts believe that there will be over 25 billion IoT devices by 2025—four devices for every person on the planet.  All of this will be controlled on-the-go via your smartphone and will affect the way in which we lead our lives.  The Mobile World Congress is no longer just about mobile phones, it’s about connectivity and the devices and services which will connect our world in the future.

  1. AI and the Digital Assistant

    How can one keep track and control their Internet of Things? Artificial Intelligence (AI) is spreading beyond Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana into people’s homes and workplaces via new mobile devices and stationary hardware. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are competing on the same territory and Samsung also announcing they are working on an AI assistant.

    Connected speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo were only the beginning of the battle for next generation digital assistants. Google has rolled out their Assistant on all Android devices 6.0 or higher and Amazon Alexa will be installed on all Lenovo, Motorola and Hauwei devices.  Messaging app LINE announced plans to launch an AI assistant named Clova and a connected speaker called Wave. LINE also announced a partnership with Sony to create smartphones loaded with robust AI digital assistants.

  1. Big Data for Social Good

    The GSMA (the mobile association that runs the MWC) announced a new initiative to exploit big data capabilities of sixteen of the world’s largest mobile network operators to address crises such as epidemics and natural disasters. Anonymized mobile data shared by these participants can help support responses to these critical situations.

    The initial operators will use common data feeds and algorithms to provide insight into human movement patterns, such as monitoring the flow of devices away from a war zone or disaster area so that public health organizations can respond effectively to target relief efforts or prevent disease from spreading among refugees. GSMA will enrich this movement information with 3rd party data such as hospital admissions, death counts and weather data.

James Andrews is a global digital consultant in the Digital practice in Frankfurt.

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