Lessons From The MWC Showcase Stage

The conference at MWC2016 pushed into new areas this year, both in content and activities. One prominent new feature was the Showcase Stage, positioned in the public areas of the Conference Village. Its remit was to bring the unexpected to VIPs visiting the conference and show them fresh ideas at times when they have a few minutes to spare. How did it deliver, and what might that mean for future events?

What was the Showcase Stage?

The Showcase Stage was an area within Hall 4 where we could highlight new companies. Physically the area was unassuming – a low stage, some high stools, a big screen and a ‘genius bar’ for running demonstrations from – but it offered the chance for a standing audience to gather around and made it simple for speakers and audience to interact. With activities running during break times and lunches, it offered people quick-fire insights and activities when they had some time to spare.

How did it work for the participants?

It was, admittedly, highly experimental this year and we just didn’t know how it would work. For young companies and start-ups we highlighted the complementary Gold pass for speaking and the opportunity to leverage a spot on the agenda for marketing and PR purposes, rather than over-promise on the audience for the stage itself. The audience changed over time, not surprisingly, but it was good to see how many people stopped for a while to learn something and to see something unexpected. While I suspect the outcome has varied from person to person we already know that some people have developed valuable contacts and potential new business off the back of their participation.

There is one big advantage of this stage; while the press and media cannot take photos of film inside the conference auditoria, they can do so to their hearts’ content by the Showcase Stage. A couple of people took advantage of this in 2016 but it’s worth looking at how speaking opportunities here can tie in with wider press and media activity.

 

What were any highlights for the organisers?

Many highlights from more or less serious topics but here are a few that readers might enjoy:

nCube demonstrating how to use the mobile phone as home controller (people thought there was a disco going on).

Supersuit by Madrat Games: Helping kids play ‘video games’ while running around and getting physical exercise.

Meshh providing cached content over WiFi to the audience live from a pocket-sized box… with no internet connection.

– Jon Neverdie, presidential candidate for Virtual Reality (pictured) giving astonishing stats on the real-world valuations of the virtual economy.

– The innovations coming through the Accessibility Showcase, from the right apps to a dancing robot phone.

Loowatt bringing energy generation and fertiliser to Madagascar.

Any lessons learned for next time? 

Plenty. As a first stab this did well, but we can refine the experience for speakers, the Congress audience, media etc to give a better all-round experience. The value of the extra stage has been proven, now we really need to make sure it can blossom. The disciplines of speaking at, and moderating, a stage like this are quite different from in a more traditional conference opportunity. The audiences and opportunities are quite different too but, managed right, they should be compelling.

What if people are interested in getting involved next time?

Email the team at contentresearch@gsma.com. It’s early days yet but it’s great to hear from companies at any stage so that they’re on our radar.