MWC cancelled: A chance to eat our own dog food

Overnight the news has broken that Mobile World Congress has been cancelled. The multi-million-pound decision won’t have been easy to make but as big names started to withdraw the decision will have become more urgent. I think we’d all agree it’s the right one to have taken, despite the money at stake.

Millions are spent on stands, not to mention the flights and accommodation spent by the 100,000 visitors. It will be a financial blow to many companies, especially those that planned big launches or would use the conference to secure major deals.

But I can’t help thinking that given the conference is all about mobile that perhaps this represents a time to re-evaluate how and where we do business. The technology we now have at our disposal would facilitate meetings, without having to leave the country, or even our homes. But this is about more than just meetings. 5G can be the hero here and help us build a virtual Fira. We can explore the halls from wherever we are, without having to walk miles and grind down shoe leather, and then activate demos and discussions as we need.

In the coming weeks, I am sure the thousands of cancelled meetings will be re-arranged as video calls. And I am sure that many companies will now look at virtual technologies at double quick speed so they can demonstrate their own cutting-edge technology to people around the world. That’s good news for anyone operating in this world – investment in VR is likely to spike off the back of the crisis.

So is this extraordinary turn of events a chance to reappraise things. A chance to really think through how we invest and implement new technologies to show case the future? I’d say it is. And I’d also say that those who strike out to be the first to do it well will be the winners.

Not only can they steal a march on creating the best virtual experiences, they can also make a statement about sustainability. The carbon footprint for the congress won’t make pretty reading. Back of the envelope calculations on 100,00 people taking flights adds up to around 35,000 tonnes, never mind all the freight to get stands there.

So why not use this period of anxiety to consider the positives that can come from it and ask ourselves how do we do business in future? Do we rely on major events to successfully deliver a strategy? Apple can garner 1.8million people live on YouTube for their new launches.. There is much to learn from them and use best practice methodologies to expand your brand’s reach.

I personally think there is no substitute for meeting face to face to discuss things – and admit that the occasional beer is never miss-placed in proceedings, especially in the Barcelona sun.

But I accept that we have to change our ways too. In the main, there is nothing that can’t be achieved by a well-timed phone call. Combined with virtual technologies that can simulate the future world there’s a powerful argument to ‘eat our own dog food’.

Plus, there’s a strong argument to say it could help us reduce the quantity of stuff we make – if you can see the prototype virtually before it goes into production then money and resources will be saved. Another win for the environment.

But that’s just my opinion – what’s yours? Is this a time to take advantage of? Use it as a way to take action, make a stand and change how we do business. Or will there never be a substitute for congresses of this scale?

I would say ‘answers on a postcard’, but perhaps a What’s App would be better placed?

James Gray

About James Gray

James has over 20 years of experience working in the telecoms and retail industries. He is an expert in subscription-based business models, CRM, direct and indirect channel management and major proposition development and launches. He has held a number of Marketing Director and Consumer Director roles.