As a long-time gadget freak and Android user, I’ve often spent the weeks between January’s CES show and February/March’s Mobile World Congress waiting with great anticipation. Though many a cool device is announced at CES, over the last few years MWC has become the venue of choice for device manufacturers announcing their hottest devices. Case(s) in point: this year Samsung and LG are expected to launch flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S7 and G5 respectively, at MWC.
While MWC will have plenty of consumer tech on offer, owing to the presence of the world’s major telecommunications companies, the show also has a unique focus on the back-end technology that makes connected devices just that.
Next week I’ll be attending MWC for the first time at the invitation of Huawei, the Shenzhen, China-based networking and telecom company. (Disclosure below.) While I’m excited to get a chance to see some of the freshest gadget launches, my focus for the event will be elsewhere:
Internet of Things
IoT represents a huge market opportunity for telcos and device manufacturers and, as a result, will be huge at MWC. There will be lots of new devices—both consumer and industrial announced, along with a host of new infrastructure and platforms offerings
Cloud is a key enabler of the innovation happening around IoT. While the telco role may not be to directly provide cloud services (see Verizon’s recent exit of that market), it is clear that the modern telco is reshaping itself around cloud technologies. NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) is a big part of this shift, which seeks to allow telcos to adopt more agile approaches like devops, in turn allowing them to innovate more quickly. Pure-play cloud providers will be represented as well; I’m hoping to catch a keynote by AWS’ Werner Vogels on Tues.
Devices and services are all getting smarter thanks to AI, machine learning, and analytics, and these topics are playing an increasingly important role at the traditionally network-oriented MWC. I came across some interesting-sounding conference talks on analytics-related subjects like connected & self-driving cars, customer analytics for telcos, analytics for industrial IoT, and cognitive computing. I’m hoping my schedule will allow me to catch a couple of these.
Huawei at MWC
I’ll be attending MWC as a participant in a Huawei program for independent analysts. (See disclosure below.) Through this program, which aims to give me an opportunity to learn a bit about what the company’s up to, I’ll be briefed by company executives and am looking forward to learning about the their activities the areas outlined above. Already, I’ve had an opportunity to participate in a pre-briefing the company held yesterday and found it pretty interesting. The company shared a few of its core themes for MWC 2016 with press and analysts. Those themes, while pretty broad sweeping in nature, include areas such as “Digital Operation”, IoT, and 4.5G. Among these, a few ideas and data points caught my attention:
Telco in Transition
In a talk on accelerating the digital transformation for telcos, San-qi Li, Huawei’s CTO for products & solutions outlined some of the major and opportunities facing telcos:
- Video. They place this as a net new $100B market.
- They see a 10x user base growth opportunity for telcos. (Cisco CEO John Chambers called this a $19 Trillion market.)
- IT transition to cloud. They peg this as a trillion dollar opportunity for telcos.
- Empowering digital transformation across verticals. Multi-trillion dollar market.
In other words, there’s a lot at stake for telcos and other industry players. (See Theo Priestley’s piece on Forbes.com for an interesting take on this: The Internet Of Things Is A Fragmented $19 Trillion Roulette Gamble.)
Digital Operation: DevOps for Telcos
Digital Transformation is a hot topic for enterprise IT leaders nowadays and “digital operation” is an adjacent concept for telcos. The idea being that in order to have a shot at winning some of the projected trillion-dollar market helping enterprises embrace digital transformation across verticals, the telcos themselves must be much more agile. And so…
IaaS/PaaS to Drive Telco Transformation
Cloud, SDx (software-defined everything), and NFV are key enablers of digital operations for telcos and Huawei is investing heavily in these areas. One of their offerings in this vein is an integrated cloud platform called FusionCloud, built on OpenStack and Docker, with PaaS and analytics layers based on CloudFoundry and Spark/Hadoop respectively. What I didn’t know is that they’ve deployed this stack some 2500+ times in over 250 data centers and 100 countries. (I hope to learn more about what they’re up to in this area next week.)
Get in Touch if You’re at the Event
If you’re also planning to be at MWC and doing interesting things in one of the areas I mentioned above, don’t hesitate to reach out via Twitter or email and we can try to connect.
Disclosure: To be clear, Huawei is covering my costs to attend MWC and underwriting my coverage of the event. Of course I’ll only share things I find interesting and think you’ll find interesting as well–they have no influence over that. Their job is to find lots of interesting things to expose me to and as they’ve got my schedule packed for much of my time at the conference, I expect they’ll do a good job at this and you’ll be hearing more from me about what they’re up to via my blog, Twitter, etc.
 Tech Radar