MWC 2018: Conference Themes

Let’s start with a big thank-you to all those of you who have taken the time to chat with the Content team over the last few months, and those of you who’ve sent in ideas through the Call for Papers. The huge variety of rich ideas and subjects stays within the Content team but gives us a really good insight into what’s going on in different parts of the digital environment. It’s our job to make sense of that, structure it and present it back in a way that offers value to an audience that they can’t get elsewhere.

While it will still be a couple weeks before our conference sessions are defined in detail and we can begin recruiting speakers, we have defined seven themes that the conference agenda will be built around. These will also extend into the rest of the show, so that delegates can search by theme and find all the content, activities and exhibitors that are relevant to them. So, while the names might not be astonishing, hopefully everybody will be able to glance over these and be able to say “yes, that one looks like my kind of thing”.

So… what are the themes?

1. The Future Service Provider
Most agree that the ‘MNO’ of the future will be radically different from today. What will that look like, what are the strategic options, do they have to invest in content and fixed line, how will it make money and how do MNOs transform themselves, to ensure a bright future?

2. Networks
We are seeing rapid developments in network technology, offering immense opportunities for lower costs and new business creation. Meanwhile the capex and growth in complexity is daunting. This theme examines what are the opportunities, the technical challenges and what is the real ROI of 5G, NFV, SDNs and many more.

3. The Digital Consumer
The way consumers interact and transact with companies through digital channels is rapidly evolving, driven by constant and rich connectivity, and data creating new services and interfaces. We dive into what’s happening and what that means for you, personally and as a business, as the data driven, automated, intelligent and personalised customer relationship evolves.

4. The 4th Industrial Revolution
The growth in IOT has meant that every type of industry is now looking at connected technologies to ensure it is ready for the move from automated production and IT, to an automated society. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, as it has been titled, is one of the most complex, inclusive and automated revolutions our society has seen and at its heart, lies mobile. From transportation to how we communicate, automation is creating smarter services and a new way to live life. The MWC audience has evolved in similar fashion to this now huge and complex ecosystem. This theme unravels the complex web of technology trends, partnerships, business concerns and opportunities that enterprises of all kinds need to address to survive and thrive in a digital automated world, and the demands this places on city and national governments.

5. Immersive Content & Media
As online services become the primary means of media consumption, the relationships between content creators, distributors and consumers continue to evolve to something richer, more direct and personal, more complex and tougher to manage, but the rewards are significant for those who succeed.

6. Technology In Society
Connected technologies have the potential to offer huge benefits for society; better government, security, transport, health, education, arts, emergency response and the environment. But a tool without guidance, ethics and craft is useless or even dangerous. What will it take to make a better future and how can we avoid taking wrong turns on the way?

7. Applied AI
Machine learning, cognitive computing and AI are being hyped, and with good reason: many of the solutions already enabled today seem to be drawn straight from science fiction and the potential for disruption and innovation seems almost boundless. AI is the key to managing, using and scaling the rich data sets enabled by connected technologies. As a technology and business tool still in its infancy, however, it brings along a complex web of issues and this theme aims to cut through that complexity.

As you’ll see, with the exception of the last theme here they are not focussed on particular technologies. Some people would say “5G should definitely be a theme”, or the same with IoT, blockchain or other technology… or a topic like security. What you should find, though, is that the themes give a conversation about a particular technology some structure and context: for example, what can blockchain do to improve the way companies and consumers work together? (this might lead into a discussion about user authentication, or better customer management, or some other issue). The point is – technology is interesting, but it’s the way it’s used, its impact, and how people react to it that is important.
The matrix below shows how the vertical themes will have various key technologies running through them, across multiple sessions;

A broader approach gives us leeway to ask the big questions that a pure technology focus doesn’t – to present new thinking outside the usual parameters. If we can get audiences leaving the room buzzing with new ideas and perspectives, maybe seeing connections they never expected or re-thinking what they thought they knew about their business, then we’ll have done our job.

Of course, we rely on all of you, our potential speakers, to bring these fresh perspectives to the stage and we look forward to digging into these with you.