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The Mobile Tipping Point

Editor’s note: The fabric of business is now intertwined with mobile. And each year, professionals from all industries get together at Mobile World Congress to discuss what that really means. Conduent leaders attended as well. Over the next three days they will share their observations from MWC and the implications for business.

As I boarded my flight from New York to Barcelona, I felt excited for Mobile World Congress as more than half the passengers on the plane were on the same journey of discovery to the largest annual convention for the mobile technology industry.

Sitting across the aisle was a vendor excited to set up his display, talking to another vendor, comparing notes. Behind me were two young gentlemen with an app-based start-up. They were searching for investors; this was their first major event and nerves were starting to show.

And as for me, I was getting settled next to the window as a seasoned industry veteran looking for new trends and how to better serve my clients.

Nothing compares to walking through the door for the first time at Mobile World Congress. There are eight large auditoriums bigger than football fields, full of companies from all over the world.  Do not let the word “mobile” fool you!  Every industry was represented: All major vehicle manufacturers, most major high tech companies, healthcare providers, banks, insurance brokers. You name it, the industry  was there!

Mobile is no longer just about telecommunications. It is the wave of the future. It is where we are now, and where we are going next.  The conference was about how we move to THE NEXT ELEMENT, as the signs proclaimed. As defined by the conference, the next element reflects the role of mobile in society – it is truly “elemental” to all that we do in our everyday life.  Sounds exciting…right?  Well, not to everyone.

At Conduent, we build and consider digital technology, artificial intelligence, bot functionality and mobility in all that we do. It is everyday conversation in wireless telecommunications.  Still, I was surprised to hear so many attendees making statements that came from internal fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Do we want our customers to interact with machines?

How much does this decrease customer experience?

Who is responsible if they make mistakes? 

Is this secure and safe?  How reliable is it and can we trust it?

These are all fair questions and part of the goal of MWC is to  educate companies that this is the future. We have to accept it and work together to get ready for it.

AI does not replicate the human brain; it simply fills in the gaps to assist in developing something better together in partnership with humans.  Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, strongly feels computers will surpass the intelligence of the human brain by 2018.  That doesn’t mean that Arnold Schwarzenegger has to save us from computers taking over the world.

It simply means as technology is advancing at a faster rate, we as a society need to help each other explore it, adapt to it, advance with it – to help our customers overcome the fear and uncertainty, and grasp the potential. It’s already happening. For instance, digital automation is allowing customers to solve problems themselves, rather than taking up the time of a service representative. In turn, as devices are now more complex, service representatives are able to tackle the tougher problems.

Another example, in healthcare – new lab technology allows patients to be help more efficiently. Results that once took days are now delivery in minutes. Surgeries are less invasive, cutting down on infections.

My number one goal from attending MWC will be strategically partnering with my clients on where their company culture is in the “The Next Element Journey” — helping establish a clear roadmap along the way, with focused change management cycle to achieve their company’s digital goals in all departments.