MWC Barcelona 2020: The Big Topics

The Call for Speakers has already opened for MWC20, taking place once again in beautiful Barcelona between the 24th and 27th February 2020. The Content Team has been busy researching the industry, by speaking to organisations and individuals of all types to get a broad cross section of opinions, all with the aim of identifying the most cutting-edge and impactful topics in the connected technology industry.

A significant step on this journey is identifying the main topics that will run through the event. These topics will provide some focus and curation to our work across the show, not just in Conference in Hall 4; the location of the GSMA’s independently researched, programmed and selected conference programme. That is to say, the conference at MWC (and all our events) is not pay to play. Speakers are selected on merit alone, the criteria being that they represent the best the connected technology industry has to offer in terms of cutting-edge technology and impact in a key topic.

Once the topics are selected, we will break these down further and create the conference agenda in late September. The speaker invites will then begin.

The topics also provide anyone interested in submitting a speaker submission with some focus and guidance. If you need any encouragement to submit, feel free to reach out to our team, and they will share testimonials from huge corporations, governments, NGOs, and start-ups, outlining the impact speaking at MWC has had for them. They include;

  • $100m plus acquisitions, where the initial approach came inside the keynote auditorium as the speaker walked off stage. This is not an isolated story.
  • A large financial institution, that took over six months to process the number of leads that came in after a keynote at MWC.

The deal flow that comes out of MWC, be it through speaking or exhibition presence, is the unique selling point of MWC, and is unrivalled according to almost every company we speak to.  

Back to the topics. The topics we have selected this year are fairly consistent with last year’s and this is very deliberate. Topics like 5G, AI and Industrial Transformation (coined as Industry X below), are huge trends that will continue to impact our economy, society and personal lives for years to come. So, in no particular order, please find the themes for MWC20 below for your review. The Content Team look forward to working with you.

Connectivity: The 5G Era

5G is more than just a generational step, it represents a fundamental transformation of the role that mobile technology plays in society. As demand for continuous connectivity grows, 5G is an opportunity to create an agile, purpose-built network tailored to the different needs of citizens, industry and the economy.

Connectivity: The 5G Era at MWC20 aims to highlight how next-generation networks will form the basis of wide-reaching value creation and economic impact. We will take a broad look at the enterprise connectivity ecosystem, from implementation, to use cases, scalable platforms, business models, spectrum, regulation, and investment to the business and cultural challenges of working with new and diverse markets/industries. Realising the full potential of global connectivity is both complex and challenging, but the opportunity is near limitless in its application and impact.


With a market projected to reach $70 billion by 2020, artificial intelligence is poised to have a transformative effect on consumers, enterprises, and governments around the world. While there are certainly obstacles to overcome, consumers believe that AI has the potential to assist in medical breakthroughs, democratize costly services, elevate poor customer service, and even free up an overburdened workforce, allowing humans to spend more time engaged in high-level thinking, creativity, and decision-making.

Separating hype from reality remains a challenge, as does understanding the full impact of the increasingly complex technology we are implementing.

This theme will explore the real potential of AI, how we must manage such a profound technological revolution and its impact on our professional and personal lives.

Industry X

Using a blend of new technologies like industrial IoT, big data, analytics, AI, robotics, 3D printing and machine learning, industries can unlock new revenue and engagement models with customers, employees and partners.

Forecasts on the potential of Industrial IoT and Digital Transformation vary wildly, but one thing they do agree on, is that it is a huge opportunity. Below are a small selection of statistics;

  • There are expected to be more than 64B IoT devices worldwide by 2025
  • The global IoT market is forecast to be worth $1.7T in 2019
  • By 2022, 100% of the global population is expected to have LPWAN coverage
  • IoT has the potential to generate $4T to $11T in economic value by 2025
  • The main revenue driver for 54% of enterprise IoT projects is cost savings
  • More than 80% of senior executives across industries, on average, say IoT is critical to some or all lines of their business in 2018
  • 97% of organizations feel there are challenges to creating value from IoT-related data
  • The IoT in Banking and Financial Services market size is expected to grow to $2.03B by 2023

(Source: Business Insider, IoT Analytics, Gartner, Intel, McKinsey, PwC, Ovum)

What and where is the opportunity and its challenges? What are the business models? How do the opportunities differ by vertical and solution? Equally, how are they similar and therefore scalable? What is the role of the operator, and each stakeholder in the value chain? Many questions remain, but the potential is limitless.

Media & Entertainment

Mobile has been a hugely disruptive force in Media & Entertainment industry. Mobile’s unprecedented distribution network, largely driven by 4G and smartphones, has reduced the barrier to entry and created new distribution models and consumption behavior, which has seen traditional premium revenue models, channels and even trust eroded. 5G has the potential to be even more disruptive, and equally a catalyst for innovation.

The new era requires a much more immersive, timely and personalised premium experience to replace these traditional revenues.  An experience that blurs the line between the physical world and digital world.

As the appetite and expectation for AR, VR and other forms of richer immersive content grows, the impact on networks, event venues and overall consumer engagement will grow, presenting huge challenges to everyone involved in these now intertwined industries. Not least among these challenges, is how we make revenue and profit margin have a closer relationship with the growth in consumption and use of network capacity, especially at the advent of 5G.

Security & Privacy

Cyber security has always been a huge, if at times inconvenient, topic. More recently mobile telecoms security has been under heavy scrutiny, especially around 5G, due to its vast potential and use cases, which makes it an area of geo-political interest.

In terms of privacy, recent scandals have also eroded trust in the digital ecosystem, around the ability to behave ethically. Coupled with the growing introduction and interest in legislation around privacy and the ethics of data usage as we enter the AI era, we are at a pivotal juncture in the evolution of the Internet.

Industry must understand its growing responsibilities and work to create the right balance with consumers, governments, regulators and industries.

Our Planet

Mobile technology has the power to help societies from the individual level, to positively impacting the earth’s ecosystem. From aides for people with disability to energy consumption and sustainability checks, the world needs, now more than ever, our sector to be a fundamental contributor to creating a safe, clean and equitable world for all. The “Our Planet” related activities at MWC20 will discuss the connected technology industries responsibilities to the environment and underserved people, including the unconnected and accessibility for the disabled, among others.

Customer Engagement

Customer engagement has been a key battleground for brands, service providers and governments for decades, but its evolution and importance has accelerated in recent years driven by the internet, mobile and then smartphones.

Expectations of a 24/7 personalised and timely customer interaction, across any channel have never been higher. To achieve this, you must have a comprehensive customer engagement strategy and adopt a range of technologies to collect often vast amounts of data and then automate and scale the interactions across any channel and any user interface.

The internet has globalised this battleground, now all service providers are compared with the world’s best. The Customer Engagement will look at examples across all industries, to understand how you can set the benchmark for customer engagement, retain and gain customers and grow revenue.