Arriving ahead of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona always makes me wonder what will be the big plays from the leading operators, carriers and equipment manufacturers. The ‘Intelligently Connected’ theme from the GSMA would suggest that emerging innovation surrounding smart connected IoT devices feeding massive amounts of data to drive AI would be in the spotlight. It will! However, it will play a significant second fiddle to 5G, where everyone will be looking to see the progress made from last year to now, 2019, the year when the whole industry is looking to monetize it.
Using a construction site analogy, the foundation has been poured and the building has been ‘topped’ out – in this case, the 5G standards have been finalized and global test beds are now switched on, so now it is ‘show time’ to fill the building with fixtures and fittings . However, there is still a lag in 5G devices and use cases so I would expect to see an avalanche of announcements from mobile device manufacturers (some have already announced the return of the foldable phone).
Lastly, 5G continues to bring new business model challenges to everyone. Operators continue to be pressured to deliver revenues and profits from 4G investments, while looking for ways to make the 5G license costs appear to be the right choice and not part of government price gouging. One thing that I will be looking for is the evolution of the operators’ market places where they bring IoT-related data to cloud ready enterprise SaaS platforms. It is here where the contextual data will be used to drive enterprise data management systems such as CRM and generate valuable business outcomes.