MWC19: The Assessment – part 1

Everyone's in pole position

This blog is part of a series: part one of three.  They’re thoughts from walking Mobile World Congress 2019. I had three main observations from MWC19:

  1. Everyone’s in pole position
  2. Premium is the new normal
  3. 5G needs a new label

Getting harder to stand-out

This year the creative bar was raised, again. No lack of money spent on high-impact booth design. Plenty of intelligent robots to entertain the crowds. Intel, ZTE, Huawei, IBM, T Mobile, SK Telecom, Sony, you can run through every hall, major brands raised their game. Even Cisco shed its grey persona and embraced a vibrant, digital light-canopy.

If there was an overarching change, I’d say it’s a style-shift from warm homely touches, to more futuristic cues: shiny laminates, luminous moulds, high-res’ LED on almost any spare surface and irregular, organic architecture to imply connected worlds.

Translucent-LED provided a clever touch – where used, it enabled booths to feel open, whilst retaining the nod to digital transformation. That said, no one really stole the show. Everyone’s got to pole position on the grid.

If I had to pick-out brands that balanced novelty, design, communication and social kudos only one truly caught my attention: HPE.   And another, Ericsson, had features that in the age of collaboration and ecosystems transforming life, were strong on audience engagement, albeit, invitation only.

HPE looked contemporary. Nicely balanced lighting design provided a calming effect which, in the frenetic environment that MWC produces, was welcome respite.  They also achieved ‘calm’ with a generous use of space. The booth was uncluttered. The CX felt organised. You could breathe on the HPE booth. Possibly true of IBM too, though IBM seemed to lack a focal point.

The Mars story on the HPE booth was timely, and provided a focal point. The World, for all its woes, is finding inspiration again in space. Whether it’s SpaceX, Blue Origin or a reinvigorated NASA, or Japan, China or India’s galactic aspirations, it’s a connection with a pioneering spirit. Ground control to major Tom, that creates a relevant platform for 5G, back on earth, where ubiquitous bandwidth combined with AI and an entrepreneurial spirit, will define the 5G era.

The Mars habitat had an authenticity that gave the HPE servers in space story, believability. The mannequin in a spacesuit was also a simple but effective selfie moment.

Ericsson, on the other hand, took a different approach. For some years now, the booth has been invitation only. I was fortunate to get a tour. Ericsson has opted for simplicity. There were ample interactive zones to present the intelligent connected world but it was the emphasis on ‘collaboration’ that resonated.

Ericsson created a collaboration space – an idea storming hub.  It reminded me of the Stamford dSchool – the ultimate collaboration space.  It was designed with a colourful, eco-WeWorks vibe. Huge room. A long table with stools around it, ran down the core of the room. Walls were set up for brainstorming with post-it-notes and whiteboards. There was plenty of space to break-out into groups. Put smart, inspired people in a room, with diverse backgrounds, and a good moderator,  even a short ideation session, will transform a group’s understanding of trends or opportunities. Genius.

For me, the next step forward would be Co-Create software on touch screen walls, for meetings that are memorable and have purpose.


Note: With the exception of the NETSCOUT booth, the examples shown here are not clients of Shelton Fleming. These are observations taken from walking MWC19.

This blog is part of a series. For insights on MWC and the 5G Story and premium being the new normal you can jump with these links.

Andrew Reid

Andrew Reid

Author: Andrew Reid is a director at Shelton Fleming Associates – CX experts in how B2B brands engage senior level audiences, through live experiences and immersive, digital content.

Further reading