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EDITORIAL Mobile World Congress – focusing in on connecting everything

Follow the leader: Mobile World Congress seeks to show the way for retailers in the mobile world

The annual Mobile World Congress comes to an end today in Barcelona and the key take away for anyone in retail is that the mobile industry is planning to connect absolutely everything to everything else – and then connect everybody to everything.

Sounds like a high ideal, but with really solid progress being made on 5G around the world, the emphasis for the mobile industry now is that it needs to be built into everything.

I could bore you with the details that have been hammed into my head this week as to how 5G works and what it means for speed and bandwidth, but I won’t. Suffice to say, it allows for many more things to be connected to the web (and each other) and to do so very rapidly.

The other upshot of 5G is that as consumers move to 5G devices in the coming five years or so, is that all that lovely 4G and 3G and even 2G spectrum is going spare. And this is what is really going to power the rise of intelligent connection.

But what does that – the buzzword of the show – really mean? While the event was long on 5G controlled drone taxis, soaring over Middle Eastern Cities, hospital equipment running remotely over thousands of miles and even a wi-fi enabled cat litter tray (the point of which was never made completely clear), what we seem to be heading for is connecting all parts of the shopping journey for both consumer and retailer.

Manufacturers, shippers, logistics, retailers and stores will all be part of an interlinked, real time sales web. For consumers, the in-store experience will be one that blends the web, social media and intelligent packaging, shelving, changing rooms and more.

The relationship that this will inculcate betwixt shopper and retailer will also be reinforced by two-way, rich messaging – many of which will turn marketing messages (delivered through RCS) into shoppable and shareable bits of personal content.

In fact, connectivity is going to be built, literally, into the fabric of buildings – Nokia was showing off sicky film with thing wires antennae embedded therein that can be stuck around the walls of any building, plugged into a 5G or LTE router on each floor and, voila, a smart building takes shape.

This will mean that shoppers are connected at all times, but more over connected to that retailer or brand while with them… the web embedded in the very building that they are in.

The opportunities are vast: on-going two way personal comms with each shopper, sending them shoppable RCS messages from which they can buy what they are looking at to be delivered to their drone taxi so they can take it home later (so long as they live in Dubai, if the video is to be taken too literally).

Mobile World Congress is always a bit of an echo chamber – the mobile industry vigorously patting itself on its sports-jacket wearing back. However, this year, it really did give the sense that mobile is set to become part of the very fabric of live. It will be everywhere and it will be everything – the only thing holding it back is people not being bold enough with ideas.

Exciting times lie ahead in an ever more mobile world.

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