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After four busy days in Barcelona, I know why MWC is THE event for mobile enthusiasts. The congress attracted 70,000 attendees, including about 3,500 CEOs and 12,000 app developers.  It showcased the latest technologies. But what impressed me the most was the activity ‘on the ground -- intense discussions with customers, prospects, partners, analysts, press, and even competitors.

Let me recap a few of those conversations and hot topics.

First, I was struck by how pervasive mobile solutions have become, touching virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work. Here are two quick examples:

  • Richard Morecroft from Qtel, a leading Middle East telco, told us about a new mobile money service they’re launching called MoneyGram. In as little as 10 minutes, customers can now securely transfer money to almost any destination around the world via their mobile phones. See the announcement made during the show.
  • Jason Oglesby demonstrated a new in-store shopping experience made available by SAP and Cisco. When entering the store, customers are automatically ‘checked in’ and offered personalized product recommendations based on previous purchases. Both consumers and retailers benefit: the retailer increases customer loyalty and revenue while the consumers see only recommendations, promotions, and discounts tailored to their interests.

I also heard first-hand about ways the mobile ‘revolution’ is affecting companies. Here are a few highlights:

  • I heard from several people about the changing role of the CIO. Ten years ago, CIOs controlled the budget and could dictate which applications and devices employees could use. Back then, the landscape was simpler: Blackberry was a status symbol available only to senior managers, Microsoft dominated the office environment, and all applications were deployed on premise. But today, IT has to ask for budget from the business – and business units are pushing IT for a myriad of new, innovative enterprise apps.
  • Expectations are also rising. Users want to bring their own devices to the workplace. Business units want applications that are not just mobile enabled, but ones that are designed with a ‘mobile first’ approach. (Not surprisingly, we saw more and more vendors at the congress showing early versions of integrated enterprise applications developed this way.)
  • Integration was also a common theme. I spoke with the head of a marketing division about her company’s big CRM implementation. The ability to offer an integrated mobile app was a key vendor selection criterion.
  • I had a discussion with a customer in the consumer products industry – a very mobile savvy company with more than 200 apps in their app store. However, they’ve recently learned that 90% of these apps are rarely used – and none of them deliver significant measurable business value. The main reason? The apps are stand-alone apps with no integration into their enterprise applications. Now that the company is moving toward end-to-end mobile solutions that are tightly integrated, they expect to gain a more complete understanding of customer behavior and tailor offerings that will drive greater revenue.
  • There was a lot of discussion about delivering a delightful, consumer-grade user experience for enterprise apps. Why is this now so important? A senior IT manager I spoke with had an interesting answer. In the past, IT could force business users to use whatever applications they selected, whether the UI was good or poor. But today, users can simply download a mobile app and use it, potentially exposing the company to serious security risks. To avoid those risks, IT must ensure that users have the apps they need – and the UI they expect.

So what was my biggest take-away from the Mobile World Congress? I saw that the best CIOs not only have a mobile strategy supporting policies like BYOD but are also investing in end-to-end mobile solutions. Solutions designed with a ‘mobile first’ approach and developed using agile, scrum-based methodology can quickly deliver results.

Oliver Betz

Global Head Custom Mobile Business | SAP

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