What did MWC reveal about the state of the mobility sector?
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. As the world's largest trade show for the mobile industry, it's the place to be to find out about the latest trends and developments in the sector.
It seems every year it's getting bigger. This year, there were almost 100,000 people across the eight huge conference halls exploring the various stands. And it's not just mobile manufacturers showing off their latest handsets either. Manufacturing firms, robotics developers, automakers and software creators all rub shoulders to shape the future of the industry.
The biggest queues in 2016 were for the range of consumer-focused virtual reality technology on show - at times it resembled an amusement park with everyone waiting patiently for their chance to experience the latest and most exciting attractions. But this was far from the only exciting innovations on display - there really was something for everyone at the event, whether you're a consumer or a business user.
IoT now a proven solution
When I was last at MWC back in 2012 and 2013, technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) were still very much an emerging area. But it's clear that these solutions are now well beyond the hype stage, with a huge number of proven, real-world applications on display.
In the past, the messaging was all about what IoT could potentially achieve, but now, developers have many more concrete results to show.
Some of the more exciting examples I saw included tools for the mining sector that can utilise image recognition to monitor the performance and maintenance of their equipment. It wasn't the most technologically advanced solution on show, but it was a great real-world example of how IoT can be brought in for a specific real-world function and deliver strong results.
Elsewhere, some of the collaborations on show between technology developers and other industries were also very promising. Ericsson, for instance, has been doing interestin things with Volvo and Scania. The self-driving cars and trucks on show will gather most of the attention, but some of the interior technology solutions that can allow the car to perform a huge range of applications were also very impressive - making the car cockpit look almost like a PlayStation seat.
New innovations to transform business
One thing that struck me about the innovations on display was how these relatively small devices are changing processing and automating work by a very significant amount. Industries such as manufacturing and mining in particular are set to be transformed by tools like IoT, allowing them to work quicker and more efficiently.
But what MWC really showed is how every industry is set to be transformed by innovations in mobility. Tools for the banking sector, for instance, have come on leaps and bounds since the last time I was at the event. Back in 2012 and 2013, this technology was very much in its infancy, but at this year's show, I found there were many banks that have achieved real results with mobility, and were eager to share their experiences.
The result of this is MWC is no longer just an event for telecoms provider and mobile device manufacturers. It has really grown to the point where almost every sector you can think of had a presence, with the majority of enterprises exploring what mobility can offer them.
A maturing environment
In many countries around the world, including the Nordics, top management are increasingly demanding mobility solutions, and if MWC 2016 is anything to go by, they'll be spoiled for choice.
One of my main takeaways from the event this year is that mobile solutions are well beyond the hype stage. Seeing in person just how big the conference was and the number of proven solutions on display really makes it clear how much mobility innovations have matured over the last few years.
Whether it's the many examples of mobile marketing solutions on show at the app planet, new banking apps or dedicated tools for manufacturers or the automotive sector, the progress made in the last few years has been hugely impressive. But I expect things are far from finished, and we'll continue to see great new innovations in the years to come. Roll on MWC 2017.