MWC 2017 MOBILE: The force behind the fourth industrial revolution

By Alberto García Martínez, Posterscope Spain
During Mobile World Congress this year I was able to experience some of the key technologies that are defining the future of the digital and connected economy: 5G, sensors, machine learning, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, smart conversational interfaces, new hardware, augmented reality, drones….and at the core of everything: mobile.
We are living in a permanent technological revolution that is changing the way people interact with each other, with brands and with the world. And at the heart of this revolution is mobile, which today has connected over five billion people and is taking us into a hyper-connected society with; mobile networks connecting sensors to everything around us, creating smarter cities, ubiquitous connectivity and a new programmable world.
At MWC it was clear that mobile is the force behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution and that it provides an amazing opportunity for OOH, whose ecosystem is evolving through new data capabilities and interactive formats. The opportunity was highlighted by some of the core themes of the MWC including: networks, platforms & data, machine learning to AI, consumer IOT & smart cities and content & media.
Networks: Most Mobile Network Operators (MNO´s) are developing their networks to make connectivity ubiquitous, faster and more intelligent. This requires investment and therefore the creation of new revenue streams. Those that recognise the unique value behind their location-based data are developing new models to monetize it.  We’re seeing how companies have introduced new business services such as Telefonica’s launch of LUCA, its new big data unit for corporate customers and how other MNO´s are reaching agreements with third-party companies to mine and capitalize on their data in advertising.
Platforms & Data: At the core of any business in the digital economy is software.  Companies are investing massive amounts of money to develop platforms that add cognitive intelligence to services and interactions with consumers.  Telefonica presented its fourth platform, AURA, which will enable users to manage their digital experiences with the company, and control the data generated by using its products and services, in a transparent and secure manner.
The more we work with customer data however the more important trust and transparency becomes.  The recent 2017 GSMA annual industry survey showed that 54.3% of consumers will allow their operator to share their data with third parties, but only data they have previously approved to do so.  So as consumers increasingly understand the value of their data and look for value in return, we also need technology that is able not just to predict their needs and deliver that value but to develop deeper relationships and conversations that ultimately drive transactions.
From Machine Learning to AI: Robots are already taking over the world!
Perhaps not to the level of Sonny in ‘I, Robot’ but machines are already smart enough to understand humans feelings, predict behaviors and open conversations.  The combination of personalization and tailored creative content and the ability to deliver a personalized experience is already well on its way.   A recurring topic of conversation at MWC was around how language interfaces and chatbots will become standard in the relationship between brands with their customers
Content & Media: All this “science” needs creativity to be effective so getting the content right is critical now and in the years to come.
With messaging apps and chatbots offering an alternative way for customers and businesses to communicate, we are just a step away from conversational commerce and conversational location-based advertising, and closer to being able to serve fully personalized content.
Netflix explained how they are growing by using data to help create relevant content that appeals to specific audiences.  Similarly, I saw MNO´s also trying to position themselves in the content marketplace, not just as distributors but as producers, as they recognize the huge potential for growth this offers.
Broadcasters, including Eurosport and Discovery, showcasing at MWC explained how they are starting to unlock the potential of VR and how the introduction of 360-degree quality content is massively increasing downloads of their apps.  I also saw stands from other types of content owners, such as the NBA, LaLiga and the Korean Olympics Committee, all of whom see the opportunity to deploy new audiovisual models and simultaneously diversify revenue streams.
The way people consume content is influencing the evolution of out of home and the speed at which it develops.  AR is redefining people´s interactions in the real world and in the future we will see more “Pokemon Go” style executions that build communities from the interaction between the physical and the digital world. Likewise, gaming will bring massive opportunities in the convergence of entertainment, technology and media in a physical space. Some of the most common buzzwords emerging from the sessions were #audiencegrowth #playerengagement #esports #dronesleaguerace #etoys #VR and of course #AR.
Consumer IOT and Smart Cities:  All of the elements above come together to create a new ecosystem that allows us to interact with the world and the world to interact with us.
For example, NTT Dotcomo showcased how it is using data from sensors, mobile and social to better organize the public transport in Japan, including a system that informs taxi drivers in real time what areas of the city require their service.
The efficiencies this creates in terms of economics, sustainability and service are enormous, and this growth in connections out of the home are key to meeting the demand of today´s consumer.  Almost every business at MWC demonstrated an understanding of the importance of location, and how to deliver value, based on customer location.
We are seeing this connectivity emerging in cities all over the world and it opens up new and exciting media and marketing opportunities for brands and agencies. We will have even more information about where people are moving to and from, their modes of transport, the destinations they are visiting and so much more.  Using this data, we will be able to deliver relevant and targeted content to the right person (or right people) in the right place at the most appropriate time.
Mobile World Congress was an intellectually effervescent experience and I am certainly very excited to be an active participant in The Fourth Industrial Revolution.