February 2011


 

Kevin Bossi, SVP at Edelman UK and 10 year veteran of Mobile World Congress shares his thoughts on past congresses and looks forward to Mobile World Congress 2011.

Edelman’s Kevin Bossi Discussing Mobile World Congress 2011

@Matthew_Whalley

@Edel_Telecom

Towards the end of 2010, chatter about ‘Millennials’ significantly increased – not so much to do with their purchasing decisions or sources of influence – but instead about the impact they will have on the future of the workplace.

More tech savvy, collaborative and demanding than Generation X, Millennials going into organisations today, who have grown up in a constantly-connect world, are likely to find existing IT infrastructures and business processes suffocating. With reams of red-tape upholding corporate and IT-usage policies, particularly around the utilisation of applications and devices dictated by the IT department, such working practices may indeed seem alien or unintuitive to Millennials who have grown up to function in a very different way.

I agree with Mark Samuels in his recent piece for silicon.com that, ‘[Millennials] are also far from the clichéd media depiction of tech-savvy anarchists set to destroy established corporate hierarchies,’ but I think that as technology evolves, the use of social media continues to become second nature to younger generations, as well as a more considered platform for business growth, then inevitably it is only a matter of time before significant change occurs. And it won’t just be employees influencing change; it will be customers demanding it too.

Therefore the pressure is on the CIO to make serious decisions about the future delivery of IT to the workforce, whether that’s through cloud models, VDI, supporting ‘bring your own devices’ and so on. A greater challenge can also be ensuring that Millennials and other generations within the organisation are supported to work collaboratively now, catering for the technological capabilities of younger generations while also recognising the needs of employees who haven’t grown up in the connected world we know today.

@LucyDesaDavies

Last year’s Mobile World Congress was greeted with cautious optimism that has since been replaced by real enthusiasm within an industry that continues to explore its potential

In preparing for this year’s Mobile World Congress I’ve been taking a look at the trends and insights that emerged from last year’s congress and seeing how far the mobile industry has come since then.

Edelman’s Kevin Bossi noted that last year’s event was approached with a kind of cautious optimism that was understandable after a year in 2009 that showed growth in mobile data services but financial instability around the world.

In 2011, this cautious optimism has given way to real excitement around a mobile market that is continually pushing its boundaries and seen as a driver for social and economic development. As ever the scope of the industry continues to grow and this offers up opportunities at the same time raising questions about how businesses define themselves.

The trends and themes from last year’s Mobile World Congress point to an industry that is reaching deeper into the lives of consumers while still exploring how far existing and new technologies can be pushed.

New Enthusiasm, Old Challenges

There has been excitement around new developments in devices with tablet computing taking hold in the market and new networking technologies like LTE hopefully solving mobile data challenges. Apps and gaming have also shown that the opportunities within the mobile market are still vast and not always easy to predict.

From looking at these innovations and the trends from MWC10, the question of the operators’ role in the mobile ecosystem is still one that has yet to be answered. It isn’t an easy question and one that is becoming even more difficult to answer. Pricing, bundled services and increased penetration won’t be generating buzz in the exhibition hall but they are all very real for operators as they try to convert network traffic into revenue gains. Operators have an uncertain future as they watch a vibrant market and seek to carve out a leadership role in it.

What is certain is that the mobile industry as a whole is being seen as a force for good. Mobile Money services are expanding as operators partner across verticals, mHealth is bringing efficiency to healthcare while the increased depth of wireless networking and affordable handsets bring more people online. While the buzz amongst technology journalists has been about the role of mobile phone and social networking in uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, they are already being used in the democratic process in Africa particularly in Uganda as well as regions across the continent.

Lessons to Learn

Emerging markets aren’t just taking advantage of new services as we saw at MWC10. Some of the largest brand presence at the event were from vendors and operators from outside of Europe and North America. Expect to see Huawei , ZTE, HTC on the hardware side and China Telecom, Bharti Airtel and Turkcell to be well represented again this year. Revelations about the Chinese government’s aid to its equipment vendor was not surprising and will not slow these companies down as they continue to take market share from Western mainstays in the equipment market.

What will be exciting is to see what lesson both operators and manufactures from emerging markets have to teach the industry about new services and what they see sustaining growth in the future. Players in emerging market will have some distinct lessons to share and it plays into an overall theme of this year’s congress. While technology is certainly at the core of the mobile industry, meeting the unique needs of different markets, communities and ultimately consumers is its goal.

A User-Centric Congress

Since last year’s congress there has been an increasing shift toward the user with a stronger emphasis on how people are using new technologies not just the technologies themselves. Consumers are more frequently asking themselves, “What can this technology do for me? What need does it meet and how does it improve the way I’m living my life?”

The tablet computing market has shown just how important it is to explain the usage scenarios of a device, not just the device capabilities. That is at least for competitors to the iPad that need a strong rational for why their device is superior and best meets the needs of the consumer.

Nowhere is the user more important than in the app market. MWC10 was awash with talk about apps ranging from mHealth to social media and what will be the next Angry Birds. The proliferation of apps and smartphones have allowed for greater levels of customization and allowed devices to offer suites services that can define a user’s experience.

More than ever it feels like the consumer is able to shape the future of the market and we’ll see this theme play out along side announcements around tablet computing, near field communications, LTE and gaming. All facets of the mobile industry from devices, the network and apps are all showing us something new and hopefully we’ll see a few surprises at this year’s event.

@Matthew_Whalley

@Edel_Telecom

…or the one phrase they you will never see in 140 characters

Ever since I tweeted some light -hearted comments concerning Liverpool’s ongoing search for the glory years following last month’s sacking of manager, Roy Hodgson, I´ve been aware of the polarizing nature of the 140 character medium.   I simply pointed out that (ex Manchester United on pitch legend (and off pitch clown!)) Roy Keane was currently available to fill any managerial vacancy.   Within a few hours my in box was full of the most obscene venom and I was forced to clean my account of unwanted followers. 

More so than blogs, Twitter does encourage confrontation and the exchange of opposing views; but it is not really a medium for discussion.

Worse though than venom and more pervasive than outright confrontation is the trend towards extreme political correctness (PC) on Twitter which kills any type of reasoned argument or exchange of views stone dead.

There have been a number of instances of “PC mob mentality” in recent weeks, including the excoriation and subsequent dismissal of Sky Sports football pundits, Andy Gray and Richard Keys.  Gray was caught off camera (but on microphone) questioning the ability of a female linesman (and women in general) to understand the rules of football. Keys’ misogynism was exposed off air (but on camera) in a verbal tirade concerning an ex girlfriend of a fellow commentator, Jamie Rednapp.

The resulting wave of opprobrium across all media proved irresistible and both commentators were out of work by the end of the week.  Twitter was at the forefront of the campaign to oust them citing their sexist, insulting behaviour as unfit and inappropriate for modern broadcast.  

However, it’s not quite as simple as that; I suspect that Sky’s reaction and subsequent dismissal of Gray was more a reaction to the “PC mob” in full cry over Twitter.  The issue surely merited a more analytical assessment than possible in 140 characters…

What was Sky´s real agenda; for a broadcaster comfortable with using attractive presenters to boost viewing figures, I’m not sure that the “moral indignation” card is entirely credible?

How do the alleged “victims” of these attitudes feel? to date there have been no interviews with the female referee in question (Sian Massey) or the ex girlfriend referred to by Keys? 

At least one leading sportswomen, Rachel Heyhoe Flint former captain of England female cricket team was supportive of Keys and Gray, describing their exchange as "banter” (light hearted).

Did anyone ever actually listen to either Keys or Gray in any capacity?  Given the level of credibility both of them seem to enjoy (even on football-related matters) a more pertinent debate could have concerned their reputed €1 million+ salaries to impersonate a couple of pub bores who most sports fans (and probably all women) would pay good money to avoid.

But alas Twitter does not provision such debate; it is simply heroes or villains, black or white, angels or devils and nothing in between, with political correctness acting as the final arbiter.  That’s the thing about Twitter; once the moral majority (or even minority) take hold of an issue there is no room for debate.  That’s because in 140 characters, at least, one phrase remains absolutely taboo . . . “I’m not sure about  . . .  .”

Back to Sky Sports, political correctness and the unfortunate Richard Keys; a brief return to Key’s diatribe could offer an alternative insight: “Mind you, that’s a stupid question, if you were anywhere near it, you definitely smashed it. You could have gone round there any night and found Redknapp hanging out the back of it . . .” (“It” referring to Mr Rednapp’s erstwhile partner).

Keys appears to be suffering from an acute form of Tourette’s syndrome, there can be no other explanation.  Given that Keys is gallantly battling on in the face of a medical condition we should be defending him – or Twitter’s PC mob should.  In 140 character terms, he is the real victim after all.

@RogerDara

Can content ever be country neutral? Meaning, can an idea or concept be equally relevant and meaningful in multiple markets at the same time?

I believe that the answer is yes. That doesn’t mean that the concept has to be interpreted in exactly the same way; “football” means different things in the UK and the US but it is still meaningful and relevant to its respective audience. The Eurovision Song Contest is another example of individual countries’ image of popular song can vary quite markedly.

However, the concept of Eurovision remains consistent across Europe; a popular song content not taken entirely seriously where international “favours” are exchanged during the course of an interminable voting procedure.

I recently participated in a training exercise within our agency including teams from 15 countries charged with launching a “St Valentines” mobile phone specifically for the female market. The challenge was to develop a central idea or concept which could drive local activities in five other EMEA markets. The idea was not that each market´s activities simply replicated each other, but that they each applied their twist to the central concept to make it meaningful and relevant to their market. In essence – like the Eurovision Song Contest – while the contest remains central, the songs themselves can be quite different (in fact, they should be – that’s the point of Eurovision!).

The secret, of course, is the central concept (or “strategic framework” as PR people sometimes call it). This concept is required to reflect the business proposition (the benefits or selling points of the product or service) but also be resilient enough to withstand localization (literally, turning and fine-tuning) by markets from Abu Dhabi to Aberdeen without losing meaning.

Our Valentine Phone contest generated some immensely powerful ideas; in many cases the teams didn’t realize quite how powerful there were. Here is a selection:

· “Women reveal the secrets of multi-tasking” – building on the phone multiple features (including a pocket mirror); this idea potentially could work in any market, there is an element of humour and women anywhere could relate to it (women think they can multi task more effectively than men (as centuries of child rearing would demonstrate)). This concept lends itself to all types of competitions, challenges, discussions, dialogue in any language or location imaginable

· Discover your secret “Femme Fatale”:  Another fun idea which could work multi-market, nice element of humour also; perfectly mapping to the phone positioning. Which woman has never dreamt of being a femme fatal in any country, any culture . . . just for a day?

· Lady Gaga flash mob: pure genius, really simple, relevant to the phone, inexpensive and fun. In reality this is a tactic rather than a strategic framework, but it has the beauty of simplicity and directness. You can just see this spontaneous choreography happening from the Gare du Nord to Red Square!

· Countless faces of love: this would generate conversations and dialogue in any market; solid idea worth developing; love whatever it looks like is really in the eye of the beholder. Another amazing strong concept that would easily stand the test of country localization.

These ideas can only really be developed and tested in a multi-country environment (teams paired up across borders for the above exercise), but when they are developed, such ideas are – literally – priceless.

@RogerDara

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