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Reflections from Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019

4 minute read

 Last week, 100,000 industry leaders from around the globe gathered at GSMA’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona to share innovations, challenges, and opportunities around mobile, wireless, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

5G was one of the most discussed topics across multiple panels, and all four major carriers claim to deploy 5G in U.S. cities this year. Many new 5G-ready consumer devices and applications were announced, and perhaps the most compelling 5G use case was demonstrated by a doctor directing surgery live from a stage at the show.

While 5G gained the most headlines, other wireless technologies are gaining rapid adoption. Prior to the show, GSMA reported that low-power wide-area networks are growing with 93 commercial networks currently operating on licensed LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies. These advancements are successfully powering a wide range of solutions, from wearables to smart grid and smart city deployments.

Foldable cell phones also captured a lot of attention at the show, promising tablet-sized displays that compress into smaller form-factors. We also saw robots serving coffee, smart and sports autonomous vehicles, and a number of virtual reality innovations. Perhaps more exciting, the show offered new augmented reality devices and solutions that could advance the state of mapping and navigation capabilities.

The complexities of IoT deployments, along with new strategies and technologies to drive increased simplicity and greater ROI, were also a topic of conversation. KORE took a leadership role in this conversation, providing insight from KORE CEO, Romil Bahl, who shared his point of view as a panelist on “Service Co-Creation that Delivers Value and Impact: When, Why, and How?

The discussion, moderated by ABI Research Chief Research Officer Stuart Carlaw, provided attendees with insights on how to navigate an increasingly complex set of technologies and new business models to deliver outstanding results. Romil and Stuart were joined by co-panelist Glenn Lurie, CEO of Synchronoss, who provided insight on how to engage with partners to co-create, deploy, and manage solutions.

The discussion explored IoT use cases and how the market might develop as new technologies - such as 5G - expand opportunities across a wide range of industries. In the session, Romil shared his observations that, despite the many complexities of IoT, "enterprises and solution providers are now moving beyond the proof of concept stage with global deployments."

Wireless and IoT security have become an increasingly urgent topic in recent years, and a prevailing conversation at this year’s show. In Barcelona, attendees and panels discussed the challenges around securing IoT data across the entire ecosystem, from the device, through the network, and to the application - a consideration that has often been an afterthought. Romil commented, "At KORE we have a seven-step approach for successful IoT deployments. We design it in up front - security by design.”

KORE EVP and CMO Sue Holub was another leading voice at MWC, participating in “Social Innovation and the Disruptive Power of Movements” panel. Sue, joined by leaders from Coliba, HYLA Mobile, and Omidyar Network, provided best practices and actionable advice for businesses looking to prioritise social innovation and social responsibility to re-build trust with customers, partners, and communities.

Sue and her co-panellists discussed how businesses have an opportunity to employ technology to drive social innovation for the greater good. These initiatives can touch a wide variety of areas, from increasing the recycling efforts in South Africa, to deploying a backpack-based communications devices that work in even the most remote locations.

The panel also addressed global challenges, such as waste management. Approximately half of the session attendees upgraded their phone in the last few years, and most of the old devices will end up in landfills. When asked about her priorities for social innovation, Sue responded with a powerful message about purposeful social innovation, commenting that businesses must ''leverage technology for positive outcomes: sustainability is key.” At a show that offered everything from gadgets to game-changing business solutions, Sue and her colleagues reminded us that technology also has the power to change the world at a fundamental level, and it is our responsibility to make it happen.

Through the four days at MWC, we had the opportunity to meet a number of outstanding leaders and disruptors in the IoT space poised to drive new strategic, operational, and technological advancements. We look forward to continuing these conversations and sharing their success stories in the future.

For more insight and updates from MWC Barcelona, see the many posts on KORE’s Twitter and LinkedIn handles, created live on the show floor.

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