I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts coming out of Mobile Word Congress, both in terms of personal observations and in regards to overarching themes.
If you don't attend MWC, you should - The mood in Barcelona was extremely positive. If there was a happy bubble anywhere in the world from February 22nd to February 25th, 2016, it was at MWC. I got no sense from anyone at MWC that the sky was falling, or that markets in China would slow the momentum in the ecosystem. People may give you a hard time that you are attending a boondoggle in Spain but that's only true only if you prepare like an American. European conferences have their act together. The prep starts months earlier. People actually want to take meetings (that do not cancel) and there is real follow-up that leads to revenue. If you go to wing it, or don't have five or six meetings a day scheduled, it may feel overwhelming.
The Adtech circles are getting bigger and more powerful - Agencies are turning up at MWC in troves. Exchanges, DSP's, media companies and the mobile performance ecosystem of those who enable a clear path to app distribution and monetization own massive floors at MWC.
MWC may want to consider a re-brand - You don't need to call mobile shows mobile anymore because when all of our time is focused on a device you carry in your pocket, it just is. It’s not mobile, it’s what we do. Apps, VR, IOT, connected homes, etc. are all on your device. So let's stop calling stuff mobile. It devalues the significance of what's happening and the innovation around us.
Themes from a mobile tech view
Data is a misunderstood and under-utilized asset - It seems a lot of companies have data that they don't actually understand how to leverage. Maybe they don't have the internal systems to make use of their data, or maybe they're worried about privacy, but data is under used, under served and an opportunity. I see data much like oil in that you need the tools and talent to drill down and get it and turn it into something valuable.
Discovery will become what Native was 4 years ago - Discovery is a challenge for almost everyone in the ecosystem whether you are an app company, publisher or carrier. New channels are being created to get your content seen in the right way (and that may not be in an app store).
Convergence is happening - I see the confluence of what was once two distinct channels taking place: performance and brand. Both categories have so much to learn from each other. Brand activity in mobile is fragmented, not measured well and has goals ranging from A to Z. On the performance side, it's the same tech, same goals, and black and white regarding measurement. Brands are starting to figure this out.
VR is rising - When Mark Zuckerberg conducts a session where everyone in the audience is wearing headsets that tells you something. VR is real beyond belief and not over-hyped at all. It answers so many questions and issues we have around reaching people. When you're using VR, you are connected, you are engaged, you are on the edge of your seat. You can skip, or fast forward, or read an email. Most importantly, you are in the moment. VR opens a conversation between brands and people in a way that we have not seen in a long time.
The proximity/beacon space is going to massive - Somebody is going to crack the holy grail and connect the digital world with the physical world. As more retailers allow beacons to see people's behavior, we turn on our bluetooth and the quality of data gets cleaner and crisper, it's simply going to be a very exciting conversation and a huge growth market.
These are my thoughts on some of what I saw at MWC 2016. I’d very much like to hear yours, as well.