What can the enterprise take from MWC 2016?

What can the enterprise take from MWC 2016?

Neill Hughes, Director of Direct Channel

Neill Hughes, Director of Direct Channel

One of the largest tech shows of the year, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) takes place every spring in Barcelona and brings together some of the world's most prominent tech companies to show off their latest innovations.

While the biggest headlines have traditionally been reserved for the latest smartphones and tablets that are inevitably on display, the scope of the show has widened in recent years, as mobile technology has entered every part of our lives.

But while consumer virtual reality solutions and in-car technology were the big draws in 2016, there was also much for the enterprise to consider. So what key developments should the business world pay particular attention to this year?

5G gaining momentum

It's still a couple of years away from commercial release, but hype about the next-generation mobile connectivity standard was everywhere at MWC 2016, with key players such as Ericsson and Huawei among those demonstrating their progress.

For enterprise users, the leap in speeds promised by 5G will be hugely beneficial, allowing them the ability to conduct almost any business operation via mobile. With tests suggesting average speeds are set to be around 100 times faster than 4G, it will make activities such as high-definition videoconferencing a reality. It's not quite there yet, but it's a revolution firms should start preparing for soon.

IoT set to go mainstream

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been one of the most-hyped innovations of recent years, but as mobile and connectivity technology has advanced, it is now set to make the leap to the mainstream.

At MWC, it seemed that any device that could be given IoT capabilities was on display, from soft toys to smart buildings and industrial applications. What this demonstrates is that in the coming years, IoT is something that firms will have to deal with, regardless of what their business is.

However, in order for IoT to be truly effective, improved networking capabilities will be crucial. There were multiple discussions at the show about how networks can be strengthened to handle the expected influx of IoT data, but no clear single strategy has yet emerged. While 5G will undoubtedly go some way towards this, in the meantime enterprises will need to plan carefully to ensure they have the right solutions in place.

A new generation of devices

While phones weren't the big focus they have been in previous years, MWC 2016 still had plenty of hardware and software on show that will be of great interest to enterprises. In addition to the usual array of more powerful smartphones from the likes of Samsung and Sony, there was a big focus this year on wearables.

Although usually positioned as consumer devices, there's a growing trend for items such as smartwatches to make their way into the business world. For instance, mobile workers and executives are making frequent use of the gadgets to keep in touch with their emails.

There were also a range of new software solutions on show, many of which demonstrated how vendors are taking advantage of Google's Android for Work platform, which was introduced shortly before the event.

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