Mobile World Congress 2017 is underway with many of the world’s top technology companies, leaders and entrepreneurs on hand at the event in Spain to talk about the best and latest emerging high tech, from Internet of Things and “smartness everywhere” to enhancing mobile video, 5G, the coming of age – and risks – of data, and the “augmented customer.” 

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Analysts at consulting firm Ovum offer their views on what they see as the top six trends to watch:

  • The rise of the power and profit of content

Content platform owners and producers are the new big players at the conference and will take center stage. With the objective of extending their platforms and reach of their content, these players will use MWC 2017 to create new content relationships and ways of working with vendors and service providers.

  • New relationships

While content platform owners will generate some of the biggest headlines this year, social, messaging, and communication platform owners will also be looking to extend their platforms. Part of this endeavor will include the traditional telcos. Expect a good measure of new voice, messaging, and social platform announcements, in particular with Alexa and Siri.

Some operators, such as Korea Telecom, will announce enhancements to their own platforms. We will also see the resurgence of some old friends, notably Nokia and BlackBerry, each of whom will launch new devices.

  • The (technically) augmented customer

There will be bold statements by many about an emerging set of technologies that represent a stepchange in the spread and sophistication of consumer and enterprise behavior. This technology will enhance people’s lives in increasingly powerful ways. This shift allows for greater personalization of products and automation of everyday tasks. We will be sharing our view of the augmented-customer opportunity following MWC.

  • Smartness everywhere – anytime, anywhere, anything

In mature markets, the industry has now largely achieved its mantra of connectivity anywhere, anytime, to any device.

The new lexicon of the augmented customer will increasingly take over as a means to deliver the touted possibilities of the future, by delivering “smartness” everywhere, through every-”thing.” As the B2C and B2B2C face of the IoT, smart living will be the biggest overall consumer theme at MWC this year. Smart living captures an array of product and service concepts that sit around the technically augmented customer – from metering to health monitoring, cars and fridge, to smart washing machines. Automotive OEMs and their technology partners will have a record industry presence at this year’s event, and there will be plenty of examples of the ongoing evolution of automotive manufacturers into serious technology players. Watch out for other B2B2C industry solutions that will be on display as well.

On the enterprise/B2B IoT side, look for many new examples of use cases and co-creation partnerships among technology vendors, service providers, and end users in both public and private sector verticals. In support of this, we expect to see announcements of creative new ways of enabling simpler, lower-cost delivery of IoT solutions – whether through low-power WAN technologies such as NB-IoT, or through “wholesale” or MVNO-type IoT managed service offerings.

  • The value (and vulnerability) of data comes of age

As both enterprise and consumer IoT technologies and use cases continue to develop, the real promise of deriving value from IoT data will be a key theme at MWC. The benefits of automation and personalization are built on real-time environmental and customer data that can be monetized. But with opportunity comes risk. The flip side of the improved customer experience and sustainability enabled by feeding personal and IoT data into emerging AI engines is the vulnerability of that data to hacking, or to simply being shared in ways not foreseen (or authorized) by those creating it. We will hear from service providers, vendors, and end-user organizations on how they will manage the disruptive business models – and consequential privacy and security issues – that surround the use and commercialization of customer data.

  • 5G – don’t believe the hype

Many different visions of 5G will be presented at MWC 2017. While there is consensus around the technology that will sit in the radio access network, differences of opinion exist around the extent to which SDN (software-defined networking) and NFV (network functions virtualization) will be part of 5G. Furthermore, while the business models of telecoms operators were never really in doubt when the 3G and 4G standardization processes were undertaken, the same cannot be said of 5G.