One of the great things about working in business development, especially for a company that’s launching new apps and services internationally, is that you get to attend exciting trade shows in exotic locations. Such was the case a few weeks ago as our CEO, Alex Algard, Bill Brooks and I traveled to the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. MWC has become the largest wireless industry trade show in the world, but now it encompasses so much more. The only show that comes anywhere close to being its rival is CES in Las Vegas. To me, the main difference is that MWC has a distinctly international feel.
A Few Main Themes
In addition to the incredible Spanish cuisine and the 40+ miles of footwork that I clocked over the course of the week, I was overwhelmed by the interesting themes that emerged from the show. These included cool updates to wearables like watches and glasses, and connected cars (I recommend checking out Chip Chick for a great list of awesome products that debuted at MWC). Along with the more tangible products, there were also new mobile OS’s like FirefoxOS and Tizen (Samsung), which are starting to gain share around the globe, especially in lower-end handsets in developing countries.
Not One, But Two Lurking Elephants
Of course, there were some elephants in the room. Elephant number one was Apple. They never attend these shows and in fact have developed an elaborate PR strategy to capitalize on NOT attending. But make no mistake, they were there—they were everywhere. People were constantly talking about them in some shape or form throughout the entire show.
But beyond Apple, there was another large elephant at the show that is not nearly as sexy as Apple or all of the new gadgets that were announced. No this elephant is definitely the nerd at the party, undoubtedly the smartest person in the room and largely in the background lurking all over the place. The elephant I’m referring to is Big Data.
Now this is a broad term that has many different connotations, but I’m speaking of Big Data in terms of the glue that holds hardware and software together. It makes all of these fun new gadgets functioning and useful. Everyone at MWC was ultimately referring to or sharing ideas based on how to use Big Data. Remember, mobile products are not intelligent without the cloud, and this is where Big Data comes in.
In the case of Whitepages, this trend squarely positions us as a key player in enabling exciting new technologies, whether that’s software, wearables or gadgets. The reason why has to do with our Identity Graph, which is a powerful indexing engine that helps people control their digital identity, and then connect, collaborate and ultimately be more productive with other individuals. And when you break it down, that’s essentially what all of these new gadgets from MWC are designed to do. As this upward trend of Big Data increases, so will the demand from companies like us who know how to manage, index, curate and share valuable identity data on people and businesses.
Moving forward, we are very excited to bring our incredible data assets to bear towards delivering clear value to mobile operators, software providers and other technology partners around the globe. MWC was a good first step in that direction, and it will ultimately be up to us to define our grand impact on the broader tech ecosystem. But that’s the most exciting thing of all, and as we were reminded last week, it’s a small world out there.