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What’s Coming at Mobile World Congress

With MWC (Mobile World Congress), hosted by GSMA, kicking off next week in Barcelona, Spain, many are talking about how telecommunications is transforming. We all know the 5G revolution is here—and the feeds and speeds that come along with it are set to change the enterprise across many industries. In fact, CTIA suggests the wireless industry enables 4.5 million jobs and contributes roughly $825 billion each year to the American economy.

With 5G, we will see the rise of new applications, with more capacity and lower latency. It also has the ability to provide increased speed in many industries. With all this in mind, what can we expect to see and hear at MWC next week? I recently sat down with Steve Goetz, VP & partner, telecommunications media & entertainment industry, IBM Consulting, and had this very conversation.

Mobile World Congress: Historically and a Look Ahead

The past few years have been very different at Mobile World Congress. Historically, IBM has had conversations around technical aspects and opinions and points of view around a horizontal architecture—an architecture that is open based on hybrid cloud technologies and fused with AI (artificial intelligence) and of course security. Discussions centered around how all that would help fuel the industry that we are in, according to Goetz. However, starting last year and continuing this year, he expects that conversation to focus on the monetization of 5G.

“Our clients need to get return on their invested capital—a ton of money has been spent, a ton of investment on spectrum and on technology,” he explains. “If you go back to the theme of this year’s Mobile World Congress it is around velocity, unleashing tomorrow’s technology today, and I think that velocity will not only be on the technical side, but in many ways with increasing importance, velocity on unleashing the value and getting a return on investment.”

Continuing on with the conversation, he identified three main areas IBM tends to focus on including:

  1. What needs to be done to continually transform the cost structures of businesses.
  2. The need to truly transform the relationship IBM has with customers in this industry.
  3. The need for speed in everything.

With that need for speed at the forefront, we need to keep in mind the importance of getting to market faster in that product development lifecycle, while still doing it with precision and agility—and of course, as securely as possible. I love what Goetz said to me: “Most of us know where we are headed, the key to this is in the execution.”

Unleashing Value for All

As we move into this new frontier with 5G and other next generation networks, roles and responsibilities will be shifting—and we all need to be working together to unleash value for all. Many people are now talking about the transformation of a telco to a digital service provider—which is certainly a valid conversation to be having and one that will likely flood the floors at MWC next week. However, we also need to be having another discussion, according to Goetz, “the transformation from connectivity to value.”

He poses some hard questions: Do you have a cost structure that is sustainable? Do you have a cost structure that is agile? Do you have a cost structure that has you competitive in the marketplace? Have you developed a relationship with your end customers—that has been reinvented and represents the best experience that they have out there? Are you the fastest to market, with competitive advantage, with the features and functionality that your customer expects?

These will be at the base of many of the conversations happening at Mobile World Congress next week. Goetz says, ““I believe that the telecommunications clients that we have … have truly reached an inflection point—an inflection point that transforms them from a company that provides connectivity to a company that provides value. That inflection point is fueled by this convergence of connectivity and compute at the edge. As a result of that, they will, if they have the opportunity, if they chose to do so, to truly be agents of change for business transformation across industry. If they do that effectively, the growth potential in that evolution is immense.”

It is a new era in connectivity—one where we move from exploring the technical aspect of connectivity to identifying how this provides value for all. There are billions of dollars on the table each year. How will you proceed forward next week—and in the years to come?

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