First of all, I will explain the reason for the post title. For those who have not seen the films, I summarize: "A group of four illusionists win year after year to the public with their incredible magic shows and even mocking the FBI.
GSMA is a great illusionist and MWC is their principal magic show. We are invited year after year to visit an event with unique keynote speakers, an enormous list of exhibitors, amazing performances and a great LinkedInplace where we can meet in person some of our social media contacts. What else can we ask for?
I know that it is very ruthless to compare the GSMA with illusionists and the MWC as their greatest magic show, but at least I see quite a few reasonable resemblances, you don´t.
My fears and my wishes for MWC17
If in 2015 I wrote " MWC 2015: Everything Connected, Tapas and Jamon", and I argued as one the reasons to attend MWC was the fact it was celebrated in Barcelona. In 2016, in my post “GSMA need to think how to reinvent MWC” I justify the reasons why the MWC needed to reinvent itself.
One thing has become clear to me after many years attending MWCs, this is the world's biggest phone and mobile networks show, with manufacturers set to unveil a raft of new phone handsets and new technology. However, the GSMA had insisted on introducing more and more distractions like Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Living, Connected Car, AR/ VR, Robots. Maybe the reason is because Telecom operators do not have the DNA to change. Still, many telecom operators take a dim view of some of the aggressive moves being made by these peers, especially when it comes to business models based on commercializing customer data.
“I expected to see less hype and a dose of common sense”
Starting by the announcement of Spain’s Telefonica to introduce a broad plan “4th Platform” to help both consumer and business customers keep greater control over their data rather than giving it away to web giants Google, Facebook and Amazon.
“I expected to see more applications where IoT will become a lot less exciting, but more useful and profitable. The real world.”
But I also feel like Scott Bicheno that “Mobile World Congress is disconnected from reality”.
The Top 5 tricks of illusionism this year
5G, Network Slicing and their associated Business Models
5G will undoubtedly be the next big thing in mobile wireless networks. For Niall Norton: fact, fiction, MWC – and strangers dancing in the dark, the most over-hyped technology or trend this year will be 5G in spite he thinks 5G is still miles away and therefore we have to wait for augmented reality, virtual reality, driverless cars and the like. It is a big ask for investors to keep piling money in.
For Phil Laidler, Network slicing is essentially an extension of policy control, virtualisation, NFV and SDN, and their orchestration; the move towards software-centric, flexible end-to-end networks. At MWC this year he is looking forward to seeing more "proof of concepts" for network-slicing and the associated business models, in addition to any insights into how slicing will work in practice.
Nokia’s big 5G announcement on ‘day 0’ of the event was overshadowed by a large consortium of operators and vendors calling for just the ‘new radio’ part of the 5G standard to be accelerated, despite the fact that it will lack the backhaul, cloud infrastructure, software platforms, etc needed to make the 5G dream viable. If anything highlights the wishful-thinking folly of much of the talk at this year’s show it’s that.
IoT has been a hot topic at MWC for the last few years, but, operators do not succeed with new business models beyond managed connectivity. Strategic alliances with IoT vendors has shown no results yet.
The battle between connectivity technologies remains fierce, cellular IoT Chip Battle Escalates at MWC ARM, Sequans and Altair to compete on NB-IoT solutions, but vendors and operators are now looking for more innovative ways to overcome the problem. This might just be the year of Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). Although LoRa and Sigfox are currently dominant in the LPWA market, cellular IoT proponents had steal the show.
For example, Telefonica - who is working on NB-IoT with Huawei - recently announced a global partnership with Sigfox. In addition, Nokia launched its worldwide IoT network grid ('WING') a few weeks ago, which it describes as "a 'one-stop-shop', full service model offering seamless IoT connectivity across technologies and geographical borders."
For Operators, the real value from IoT will be created when they can start combining data sets from different areas and different connectivity technologies. For example, smart cities, healthcare or Food & Beverage, retail, transportation and logistics to improve the cold chain supply management processes.
I hope that at MWC18 we will be looking out for examples of operators and vendors developing IoT use-cases that do just that.
“The Internet of Things is in MWC to stay for a few more years, but If your focus is Internet of Things (IoT) then your money probably will have more ROI in other IoT events”
Blockchain has become one of the latest buzz words in telecoms, IT and IoT , thanks to a rapid increase in start-ups using it for new use-cases beyond its original application in financial services. Despite the excitement around blockchain the technology is still poorly understood by many, so operators need to explore the practical applications of blockchain and investigate whether developing these capabilities would be beneficial and understand what will be their role telcos in this field.
Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots
Not many people in the Operators and in general in the Telco sector can explain what will be the practical potential of AI and machine learning in this sector. Other industry sectors are starting to apply machine learning models to their business. And as the technology and algorithms become more refined, early adopters expect to see huge cost savings. But at what cost?
I expect to see real use cases for AI, machine learning and Robots to make the eternal promise of Customer Experience happen.
Will Telcos someday use machine learning and AI to learn about customer’s habits so that their services and product features can emulate a human behaviour more accurately?. This is a huge opportunity for both vendors and operators.
The wandering souls network
The first time I visited MWC as CEO of OIES, that is to say, as an independent consultant, I feel like a walking dead. Without a clear agenda, without scheduled meetings. I walk through hundreds of exhibitor booths looking for friend’s faces that can spend a couple of minutes to tell them my history.
The Telco sector (Operators, Large Vendors) and the IT sector is being very cruel with employees over 45 years old. This year I have had the opportunity to spend some time with some of ex-colleagues, friends and also LinkedIn contacts that wanted to tell me their history and asked me for advice about the new “El Dorado world of IoT”.
There is a lot of talent out there. Do not exclude this extraordinary wandering network because you believe they are overqualified and you can not manage them.
See you next year at MWC18
I've been saying the same thing for years when I come exhausted from MWC “No more tricks, no more illusions, this has been my last year". But will be this time the real one. Do I need a sabbatical MWC?.
“Whether you passed 1 day, 3 days or a whole week of your life in the MWC17 illusionism, ask yourself: Was it worth it? “
Now you see me or not @MWC18.
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