Technologists and mobile marketers the world over are preparing to descend on Barcelona for this year’s GSMA’s MWC 2019. AList sat down with Andrew Parker, GSMA’s program marketing director for IoT, to get some insights on what’s new this year and what marketers should look out for at the annual event.

How will this year’s MWC be different from last year’s event? 

The main difference this year is the theme of the whole event, which is Intelligent Connectivity. This year you are going to see a broader view of the future of mobile. This year the focus is on 5G, it’s obviously in sharp focus this year. The developments of IoT, the developments of smart platforms such as AI and Big Data. Because what we are arguing is the development of those three technologies is going to have a massive impact on the world. Three very exciting, emerging technologies. So you are going to see more demonstrations of the technology that represent those three technologies, rather than just mobile.

What are some trends at MWC that marketers should look out for? 

For marketers there is the use of mobile more and more; it’s the whole range of things. For example, you see mobile apps using AR to promote products. I think AR, particularly on mobile, is something that marketers can apply fairly quickly because they can build it into apps. One of my favorites is an app where you can call the walls of your house to see what the color will look like. For marketers, in pure mobile, I think that’s one example.

Other aspects of broader, slightly more advanced areas—I think the use of smart advertising, where we to see external advertising taking advantage of mobile-connected screens and reacting through the day to different audiences, so they can present different messages to people passing by. You will see more connected billboards—quality billboard space is something of a higher premium—and certainly 5G enables high-definition video. Also, the two-way nature of 5G—being able to recognize people that are passing the billboard. It depends how far out you want to look.

By this time next year, do you think 5G will still be the ‘shiny new thing’?

I think so because 5Gs are rolling out this year. It’s going to take some time for the networks to roll out and for the products to mature to deliver applications. We are still at a very early stage there. 5G just rolling out. I think it’s about how 5Gs are being utilized and grow up together with the other technology. We’ll be over pure speed or pure low latency. What we will be more interested in is the application across the network. Hopefully, there will be more case of what you can do with 5G, how it will impact entertainment, sports, transportation and public services. The big applications. We’ll get over the basic 5G, but I think we’ll still be talking about how all these other technologies merged together to deliver real benefit. And I hope that, whether the debate goes because it’s all about the benefits for consumers and businesses.

In regards to planning MWC, technology moves so fast, how do you anticipate and also leave room for innovation as you are planning through the year?

The way we do it is we talk to a lot of people. Out ideal piece of technology that we like to show in something like Innovation City is something which isn’t too far out but [also] hasn’t been seen before. We engage with the number of businesses and now the GSMA certainly is reaching out. And what we do is we are trying to reach out to the operators, but we also reach out to a number of other industries. And certainly, in my area, the IoT perspective, the more companies that we talk to and partner the more interesting [it gets]. They’re the ones who give us those cutting edge applications.

For example, we’ve got this thing called Intelligent Water, which is going to be at Innovation City this year. And that’s a company called BeWhere, who are working with the city of Toronto and they are putting sensors into the water pipelines to measure water pressure and determine where leaks are within the network. So the city of Toronto is using that data and [putting it] onto a platform and it helps to model the water network underground. With that example, to BeWhere they are partnering in Europe with Orange and with Huawei in Canada.

Therefore, you have to talk to a range of different people to get the demos and understand what’s happening in the marketplace. You can’t just look in one place anymore.

What are you personally are excited about? 

It’s a whole bunch of stuff on there. I’m really excited to see the SKYSHIP from KT. That’s basically an airship which coordinates drones and ground activity during an emergency crisis. That looks really cool. The idea is that if the base station goes up on an airship and the base station coordinates a whole range of different helpers in a zone.

Also looking forward to meeting Sophia as well. I’ve not actually met her before. Sophia is joining Innovation City this year and is going to give her own perspective of where sees 5G going because being a hard-wired, connected robot, which she is at the moment—she’s acquiring legs and will need mobile connectivity. Sophia will be talking about how she sees mobile helping her communicate with the cloud-based platform, which is basic intelligence. And also how AI is going to develop. Those couple of examples are ones that I’m certainly excited about.