Intelligence Brief: My MWC19 Barcelona resolutions - Mobile World Live

Intelligence Brief: My MWC19 Barcelona resolutions

18 FEB 2019

At the start of the year, I spent some time outlining my mobile and communications related resolutions for 2019. Rather than make predictions, I wanted to highlight some aspirations and commitments for how I’d work with and think about the industry: you can think of them like a combination of predictions and wishes with a little self-direction. If you missed the column, you can check it out here.

With MWC19 coming up in less than a week, I wanted to return to the resolution framework.

Anyone who has been to the show before knows that it offers an incredible opportunity to engage with the entire breadth of the mobile industry, but that it’s so massive that unless you go in with a plan you won’t make the most of it. Consider my resolutions the core components of this year’s plan.

Get to every meeting on time
Yes, this is the equivalent of a New Year’s resolution to run a marathon every month.

Possible? Sure.

Probable? Nope. Unless you’re a logistics genius who can manage to arrange all your meetings in proximity to one another, you will always arrive late to some. But, if we look at MWC19 meetings as part of an ongoing engagement, then leaving early (in order to get to the next place on time) is just an invite to follow-up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Focus more on devices
I’ve never been a mobile device analyst. And, as much as we all might consider ourselves amateur smartphone analysts when the newest Apple or Samsung devices get launched, it takes a very sharp focus and market understanding to map out the intrigues and implications of an ever expanding device landscape.

But it’s that expanding landscape that makes it all the more important to understand what MWC19 tells us on the device front. 5G business models. IoT business models. Smart home business models. They all hinge, to some extent, on what goes on in the device world.

Focus more on enterprise
Did you read the last bullet? Cool. Replace “device” with “enterprise” and a lot of it holds. I’ve never been an enterprise analyst. And as I look at key operator opportunities around 5G and IoT, the enterprise plays a major role in whether or not the business model pays off, meaning that the enterprise story operators and vendors tell at MWC19 will be an important one to pay attention to.

Give up on lunch
Complaint Bragging is a cousin of Humble Bragging and you run into it a lot at MWC.

“There was so much traffic in our booth, I never had a chance to sit.”
“With five conflicting dinner invites, I don’t know how I’ll manage them all.”
“I had so many back-to-back meetings that I never managed to eat lunch.”

Personally, I’ve always been conflicted about the issue of lunch at MWC. Walking around and engaging in meaningful conversation takes fuel. No argument there. But if time is a finite resource, then the 30 to 60 minutes spent on lunch is time taken away from engagement with companies you may never learn about otherwise. Of course, debating this stuff in my head also takes time away from more important things. So, this year I’m just resigning myself to grabbing jamon and manchego where I can find it and carrying around some Clif Bars.

Look for LTE in support of 5G use cases
This is something of an extension of my New Year resolution to worry more about 4G: recognising that 5G will likely upstage the technology that will come to dominate mobile broadband connectivity over the next five years.

One way to ensure LTE gets the credit it deserves is to shine a light on the value it’s delivering. But let’s be honest here: in the middle of peak 5G messaging, the buzzed-about use cases are 5G use cases.

The good thing is that LTE (and its evolutions) should be able to support many 5G use cases, clawing back some of the spotlight and helping operators make the most of their 4G investments. I know I’m not the only one seeing this dynamic play out and know we should see 4G in support of 5G use cases at MWC19. If it’s there, I plan to find it in action.

Test the definition of “enabling tech”
At GSMA Intelligence, we’ve been describing edge networking, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain as “enabling technologies”, foundational supports for new network and service innovations.

The definition, however, implies that these technologies are being put to use as a critical support for things like 5G and IoT rollouts. To be sure, we’ll see AI, edge and blockchain announcements at MWC19 framed in the context of new mobile networks and services. But, the real test of the “enabling” moniker will involve turning this on its head. We’ll need to see major 5G and IoT launches invoke these technologies in some way. If they do, then I guess the definition holds. If not, we may need to look for new naming.

Catch a keynote
Confession time: I’ve never actually attended an MWC keynote. By the time I made it to haphazardly scheduled meetings and everything else, there’s never been time.

I’ve always told myself that anything important coming out of a keynote will be covered by Mobile World Live. To some extent, that’s fair. However, having just seen the musical Hamilton for the first time, I was reminded that live versions are just naturally better than soundtracks or recaps.

In any case, Rakuten’s Mickey Mikitani (Wednesday) and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella (Monday) are both people I look forward to hearing from. If nothing else, should a big announcement of some sort get made, it’s always nice to be in the room where it happened.

– Peter Jarich – head of GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.