Scott Player reports from Barcelona with the key takeaways for marketers coming out of Mobile World Congress 2016.
Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest conference and exhibition focused on mobile and mobile related technology. Held in Barcelona each February, MWC attracts over 40,000 delegates and thousands of exhibitors. To put it in perspective, it takes over 30 minutes to power walk the entire length of the precinct. To see and understand every stand in four days along with a bunch of the conferences is impossible, however here are some important key themes for this year’s event.
1. Technology is maturing to create commercial reality
While technology is advancing at a rapid rate, a key take out from this year’s MWC is that a lot of the technologies that were in their infancy a year or two ago now have proven commercial applications and have the ability to fundamentally improve many industries. Some examples include:
Enterprise Wearables and AR
There are loads of examples where real world applications of enterprise wearables are creating significant positive impacts in their applications. The Daqri smart helmet is a great example where use cases have increased workforce productivity by 30% while concurrently reducing errors in production by 90%.
But it’s not all about efficiency – these sorts of products also enable workers that are physically unfit for manual work (for example, injured or maturing workers) to remain employed via the concept of the ‘remote professional’ or ‘skilled call centre’. Workers in the field with integrated cameras and communications can seek assistance remotely.
These technologies will not only create efficiencies but also create safer workplaces and increase the workable lifespan of many skilled workers.
A year ago, there was a lot of discussion about ‘what could be’ for VR – The truth is it’s evolving rapidly and it’s here to stay. Samsung’s Gear VR has had more than 100 million hours of content viewed since its launch in November. With Mark Zuckerberg confirming at MWC a partnership with Samsung to bring Facebook’s dynamic streaming technology for 360 video to the Gear VR platform, this also confirms a commitment to creating immersive VR experiences involving a dedicated social VR team.
Also maturing is 360-degree content creation, developing from taped GoPro rigs to purpose-built professional hardware with Nokia launching its OZO VR Camera. The OZO has the ability to shoot 360 degree video and audio, as well as provide a live stream to the content. With the launch of OZO (and others surely to follow), brands and their agencies will have access to professional hardware to produce engaging content for VR platforms.
Beyond the hype of yesteryear, these technologies have real world here-and-now benefits which will continue to evolve and mature through 2016.
2. Contextual Commerce
The concept of ‘contextual commerce’ has a fair bit of airtime over MWC – enabling the consumer to shop/transact in an environment that is tailored to the present context of the consumer, at any time, in a seamless way. For example, purchasing directly from a Pinterest image, within a personalised EDM email, or while in a retail store change room. Using not only time and location data, but a host of other relevant inputs – purchase history, social context, physical influences such as ambient temperature or previous interaction with the brand. Brands are able to hyper-personalise the user experience for mutual benefit.
3. The customer experience is paramount
The automotive sector is undergoing a huge evolution, especially with the push towards autonomous cars, which has a strong threat of disruption and commoditisation. At MWC, Mark Fields, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, positioned Ford not as an auto manufacturer, but as a ‘mobility company aimed at making people’s lives better’.
A typical Ford owner spends around 700 hours in their car each year, however only 4.5 hours interacting with a dealership or the brand in any other way. Ford’s biggest focus is advancing their customer experience to provide a larger number of touch points that either create utility or engagement for the consumer, including the launch of FordPass. FordPass combines digital, physical and mobility solutions to connect with and make the Ford brand relevant to consumers beyond ‘cars’. If Ford is relevant to consumers lives, it will remain relevant regardless of the disruption to the category in which it operates.
4. ‘Connected’ and ‘Smart’ everything
This trend continues from previous years, expanding across cars, bikes, push bikes, premium watch brands, even connected ski goggles and sensors in everything. And while more and more devices are becoming connected, there’s also been a huge amount of investment in platforms to manage, power and capture data from everything. The trend will continue, and those who will benefit are those that harness the data to provide a better customer experience.
Mobility and connect technologies continue to evolve at break-neck speeds – and over the past 12 months, we haven’t seen a heap of new concepts, more-so maturing of the current technologies, resulting in real world commercial application.