MWC 2012 – An insider’s guide

MWC 2012 – An insider’s guide
Dominic Smith previews the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and offers some practical advice to anyone visiting the enormous exhibition.

In just over a month from now, more than 50,000 people will be descending on Barcelona for yet another instalment of the Mobile World Congress (MWC). With the prospect of a week of long days, late nights and a diet of tapas and tortilla, the mere mention of the name can be enough to bring out hot sweats in even the most hardened of industry veterans.

In years gone by, MWC was the place where the latest and greatest mobile handsets were unveiled to an expectant media. However, the convergence of the electronics and communications industries means that most of the device hype now comes at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas each January. So what can we expect to be the talk of the town in Barcelona this year?

Firstly, the GSMA’s flagship event just went up another notch through the appointment of Barcelona as the first ‘Mobile World Capital’. Expect lots more information about what this means for the industry and how Barcelona will be used to showcase the latest mobile technologies the whole year round.

With less focus on the devices themselves, the latest applications (Apps) are likely to take centre stage. And not just in the trendy Android Zone, but from a wide range of vendors and spanning all areas of the industry. There’s an app for that, as they say.

Customer Experience has become one of the most talked about subjects in the industry over the past 18 months, with every BSS and OSS vendor making their own customer experience play. This time round, I believe we will see a wider debate and a more holistic view of what the customer experience is and how to improve it.

Policy management will also be high on the agenda, both in the conference and on the exhibition floor. However policy has now taken over from Customer Experience as the most over-used industry buzzword, so expect everyone to be talking policy at one level or another. Just make sure you bring your own definition of policy with you so you know if it’s the right form of policy for you.

And finally, it will be hard to go anywhere or talk to anyone without mention of the cloud. From operators launching cloud services to their customers, to vendors offering their solutions in the cloud, the ‘as-a-service’ revolution is upon us and will surely be a widespread theme throughout the week. Anyone for MWC-as-a-Service?

If you are planning on visiting the exhibition, then here are my five top tips for maximising your visit.

1. Plan your visit. It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people just arrive at the exhibition and start wandering around. Research which companies you want to meet with, and then plan your itinerary accordingly.

2. Pre-arrange meetings with companies you most want to meet. There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept waiting for a demonstration at a popular stand. So if there’s a company you don’t want to miss, then try to book an appointment before you get to Barcelona. 

3. If you do want to just explore, consider going to some of the more distant halls on the first day. Most of the exhibition sheep wander around hall 8 and hall 1 on the first day, as they are nearest to the main entrance. Venture to some of the other halls first and you are likely to get more attention from the exhibitors and feel less harassed or stressed out by the experience. You can also then enjoy hall 8 and hall 1 at a more leisurely pace when the crowds have eased later on in the week.

4. Allow enough time between appointments to get from one hall to another. Exhibitors are often running tight meeting room schedules, so if you’re late for your slot you may find yourself perched on a stool having an informal chat, rather than the private meeting or demonstration you were expecting. 15-20 minutes should be enough to traverse most of the MWC exhibition, and if you are early, most exhibitors will offer you a coffee or a cold drink while you wait.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk to exhibitors. This may sound a bit strange, but we see lots of brochure collectors who seem nervous about engaging with stand staff. We don’t bite, and it’s a lot easier to qualify whether something is interesting or not face-to-face, rather than exchanging emails or playing telephone tag after the event

And one final piece of advice for exhibitors. Don’t ever take down your stand before the exhibition officially closes on the final day. In 15 years of attending the Mobile World Congress in its various guises, I am always amazed at how many companies start shutting down their stand early on the last day. Never mind the cost of the actual floor space, it’s the opportunity cost of missing out on a potential lead. We always see visitors hurrying around the exhibition on the last afternoon, exhibition guide in hand, desperately trying to meet all the companies on their must see list. But if you’re not there, you’ll never know what you missed.

See you in Barcelona.

Cerillion will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress 2012 – Hall 2, Stand 2D65. Click here to pre-arrange a meeting or to find out more about our activities in Barcelona.