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MWC 2013 – The insider’s guide

Next month the great and the good of the telecoms industry will descend upon Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress 2013. Back to Barcelona again, but this time to a shiny new conference and exhibition centre – Fira Gran Via. Having visited the new venue now 3 times, I can tell you it is a giant leap forward in terms of the facilities provided. It may not have the grandeur of the Palace and fountains of Montjuic, but the vast exhibition halls, interconnected by an airport style main artery with moving walkways, will provide a fantastic place for the industry to do business.

The new venue has also been equipped with the latest Near Field Communications (NFC) technology with the GSMA creating a complete NFC Experience to put mobile devices at the centre of a new interactive congress. This includes a showcase for the latest NFC devices and services, as well as visitors with NFC-enabled devices being able to use them as their ticket for accessing the site. Furthermore, NFC tags in the exhibition and at key sites around the city will provide access to further information and special promotions.

From talking to people across the industry, it seems most have decided to stay in the same hotels as before, and just manage the slightly longer journey to Fira Gran Via. Though still connected to the Metro system, Fira Gran Via is served only by the FGC train which stops at Fira Europa station, a 5-minute walk from the exhibition centre. The slightly longer journey should be no problem in itself, but with only one train line connecting Fira Europa to the rest of the city, expect this to be VERY busy throughout MWC.

Further details of all the transport options can be found here, and the good news is that a free transport pass (valid for Metro, Bus and Train) is included with each pass for the 4-days of the event. Those who are flying in to Barcelona Terminal 1, will also be able to pick up their MWC pass at the airport, so that’s one less thing to worry about on the Monday morning.

So what will be the big news at MWC 2013?

It was noticeable last year that most of the big handset announcements came at January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas rather than at MWC. However this time around the story is reversed, as this year’s CES was notable by the reduced number of mobile device announcements with many holding back to make their big splash in Barcelona. It will be interesting to see which manufacturers make the biggest waves, but I expect the majority to be around Android and Windows-based devices.

Apps will continue to be big news at MWC, with most vendors offering mobile App versions of their software. But I expect the biggest noise to come from Big Data. This has become the latest buzzword to take the industry by storm, so expect it to be all over the exhibition in many different shapes, but just the one size – Big.

In the BSS/OSS community, convergent charging and policy management will remain one of the hottest topics around the exhibition halls, and customer experience will be at the forefront of most people’s doing, not just thinking. Cloud will also move from the periphery to the centre of most exhibitors’ offerings, so look out for a lot more as-a-Service offerings.

And finally…connected everything. Last year MWC brought us the Connected House, but this year the GSMA has organised the Connected City to show us all how to live the connected life. Beyond this dedicated showcase, expect lots of other M2M services and embedded mobile propositions throughout the exhibition halls.

If you are planning on visiting the MWC exhibition, then back by popular demand, here are my five top tips for maximising your visit.Plan your visit. It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people just arrive at the exhibition and start wandering around. Research which companies you want to meet with, and then plan your itinerary accordingly.Pre-arrange meetings with companies you most want to meet. There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept waiting for a demonstration at a popular stand. So if there’s a company you don’t want to miss, then try to book an appointment before you get to Barcelona.If you do want to just explore, consider going to some of the more distant halls on the first day. Most of the exhibition sheep wander around the halls nearest to the main entrance, so venture to some of the other halls first and you are likely to get more attention from the exhibitors and feel less harassed or stressed out by the experience. You can also then enjoy the other halls at a more leisurely pace when the crowds have eased later on in the week.Allow enough time between appointments to get from one hall to another if you need to. Exhibitors are often running tight meeting room schedules, so if you’re late for your slot you may find yourself perched on a stool having an informal chat, rather than the private meeting or demonstration you were expecting. 15-20 minutes should be enough to traverse most of the MWC exhibition, and if you are early, most exhibitors will offer you a coffee or a cold drink while you wait.Don’t be afraid to talk to exhibitors. This may sound a bit strange, but we see lots of brochure collectors who seem nervous about engaging with stand staff. We don’t bite, and it’s a lot easier to qualify whether something is interesting or not face-to-face, rather than exchanging emails or playing telephone tag after the event.

I also have one final piece of advice for exhibitors: Don’t ever take down your stand before the exhibition officially closes on the final day. In 15+ years of attending the Mobile World Congress in its various guises, I am always amazed at how many companies start shutting down their stand early on the last day. Never mind the direct cost of your company presence, it’s the opportunity cost of missing out on a potential lead. We always see visitors hurrying around the exhibition on the last afternoon, exhibition guide in hand, desperately trying to meet all the companies on their must see list. But if you’re not there, you’ll never know what you missed.

See you in Barcelona.

Cerillion will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress 2013 – Hall 7, Stand 7G104. Click here to pre-arrange a meeting or to find out more about our activities in Barcelona.

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