What We Learned At Mobile World Congress 2017

Another year, another action-packed Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Swrve’s presence was bigger and better than ever - and as a result we met dozens of key mobile players in a variety of contexts.

Of course based in Hall 8, our conversations tended to focus on the app ecosystem and economy, but that’s hardly surprising. It does mean that what we learned is less about the latest hardware and network technology and more about where the rubber meets the road in terms of delivering success via the mobile app. Here’s a few themes that stood out as particularly prevalent this year:

Everybody Is - Or Wants To Be - “Mobile First”

This might not be news to anyone who reads our blog, but it was astonishing how many organizations we spoke to that initiated conversation with the line “we’re a mobile-first organization”, or at least had aspirations in that direction. And we’re talking about large enterprises in any number of verticals: banking, telco, travel, media. It seems that buy-in goes all the way up when it comes to understanding that the consumer lives on mobile - and the brand needs to get there too.

People Are Getting Obsessive About “Mobile Experience”

Perhaps as a consequence of lesson one, it was noticeable how aspirational many of the people we met were when it came to delivering the best possible experience on mobile. That desire wasn’t just restricted to making things look good: the quest now is for dynamic optimization and personalization of mobile experience in the round. Again, as the brand/consumer relationship moves to mobile, more ambition and budget follow it.

Multi-Channel Is A Requirement

Almost every conversation we had ended up sooner or later with the question “and how do you integrate with x?” That’s perhaps no surprise when considering the scale of most organizations we speak with, but it certainly indicates that the days of mobile-only solutions are coming to a close - or at least they are for any organization that spans multiple channels. In a world where many continue to commit to both mobile internet and app (another noticeable trend), that’s hardly a surprise. Marketers have always dreamed of the real-time 360° view of the customer. Perhaps it is finally here?

Artificial Intelligence Is Very Real

A number of chats came back to the discussion of how large data sets can be used to predict the behavior of individual consumers and optimize mobile services and campaigns on-the-fly. In fact in some cases we learned that whole businesses intended to re-model themselves around automating and optimizing as much of their organization as possible. That goes way beyond mobile, but it’s clear that nevertheless mobile will be an obvious first port of call for those looking to apply AI in search of growth and revenue.

The Mobile App Ecosystem Remains An Odd Place

If you’re looking for otherwise sane people dressed up as ants, juggling on stilts, spending the day in a skin-tight yellow bodysuit or appearing to believe that a mash-up of Gangnam Style and Firework by Katy Perry is the greatest musical work since Beethoven - then Hall 8 and its associated social events is for you. We thoroughly enjoyed it.