Why are operators so adverse to attending MWC (Mobile World Congress)? It’s the mobile industry’s trade event of the year, where people gather to share experiences, insights and ideas. Yes there’s lots of vendor razzmatazz; but it’s the chance meetings throughout the event are where innovation happens; its about people meeting people. As an operator if you’re not at MWC how can you adequately innovate? Are you going to depend solely on what your visitors tell you?
In my experience I’ve made chance intros simply because I’m talking to one operator and then see another I know at a reception, and from that chance intro flourishes new service launches, short-cutting through a litany of mistakes on implementing a new platform or service, or simply understanding new services that your market may not be ready for but at least you can start planning.
Yes it’s all soft stuff, hard to quantify, but to not be at MWC is a bit like saying you have no need to leave your home ever again! You’ve become a corporate shut-in. When marketing budgets can stretch to pay for advertising on Formula One cars, prime time TV slots with adverts produced by the top agencies, it can with some forward planning (to contain costs) easily cover sending tens of your employees (your most important asset) to the event simply to meet people and share experiences, insights and ideas. This is how innovation happens, just look at all the events in the Bay Area that do this and the innovations that spin out of them.
Some operators have decided no one will go from their organization, some are restricting attendance to a couple of people who will be monopolized by the big vendors. It’s the mid-level and junior people that will gain the most from the event, the ones working at the bleeding edge of the organization. Operators are becoming the corporate equivalent of shut-ins with their current policy of stifling innovation from their most important assets: their people, not their network.