Every year towards the end of February, thousands gather in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress. Industry specialists discuss an industry that has transformed how we communicate and is shaping the future of business in the next decade. This year the show attracted more than 85 000 people from 201 countries, and over 1 800 companies exhibited.
The last decade has seen massive growth in mobile subscribers. At the end of 2003 there were just over a billion registered subscribers globally. Ten years later, at the end of 2013, that number has shot up to 3,4 billion unique subscribers. There were also 6,9 billion SIM connections at the end of last year. The impact to the global economy has been huge. The GSM Association (GSMA) in their “Mobile Economy Report 2014”, estimate the mobile industry contributed around 3,6% of global gross domestic product (GDP), or the equivalent to over $2,4 trillion in 2013. By 2020 this figure is expected to increase to 5,1% of global GDP.
Dozens of devices were launched at MWC 2014. The price of phones continued to come down, and this year many manufacturers launched smartphones in the $50 and below price point. As we approach the end of this decade, most people on this planet will own a smartphone and will be connected. Mobile devices have become like chocolate bars – they can be found almost everywhere, and they all offer a similar culinary experience.
But the industry is transforming in a rapid way. It is not just about mobile anymore. The 7 billion connected devices in the world are creating the future of mobility and the next generation of technology lies in these connected devices.
Sensors in almost everything around us will drive this revolution. This in turn will drive the Internet of Things and big data – all being synchronised by the cloud.
These were the conversations that were debated by the captains of the telecommunications industries in Barcelona this year.
Everything that can be connected will be connected and this is where the future of connectivity lies.
How do businesses take these connections and drive profits from the benefits in their organisations? The CEO of Jasper Wireless, Jahangir Mohammed, one of the leading companies driving the adoption of the Internet of Things, said that there are three key drivers that will maximise and differentiate business in the future.
Connected experience for your customers
Motor manufacturers like GM already have connected cars that continuously monitor almost every aspect of the vehicle. When the car is involved in an accident, emergency services are automatically dispatched to the scene.
In 2013 there were over 70 000 flight delays in the US due to engine problems. These delays cost the airline industry more than $8 billion. General Electric (GE), who manufactures engines, are installing sensors in aircraft engines to give airlines real time data on any problems that could arise, eliminating any problem before it happens.
Insurance companies are introducing new business models that monitor how their customers drive, and base their premiums on their driving behaviour. By doing this, a company is able to anticipate with a great deal of accuracy what kind of risk they may have in the future.
These are some examples of how the next generation of connectivity will makes businesses more agile and streamlined and that ultimately will result in more profitability.
Author Nicholas Negroponte put it into perspective when he said “Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living.”