The recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was the biggest annual show focused on mobile technologies. Over 100,000 people visited the event and all the major handset manufacturers were present, launching their latest smartphones and other devices, but I noticed something different about the event this year.

It was really focused on the practical application of technology, rather than just the latest upgrade to the mobile phones we all use.

Look at what the analysts are saying for an example of what I mean. The big themes at the event this year were:

  • 5G
  • Omnichannel
  • Virtual Reality (VR)

This is exciting news because it shows that those of us with an interest in the way that customers experience their interaction with brands are now driving the way that mobile technology companies are planning their own strategy. Instead of developing phone upgrades merely for the sake of continuing to develop the technology, it is these uses of technology and how they affect consumers that are really at the forefront.

VR will almost certainly become an important part of the customer experience in many industries. Gaming companies are already making extensive use of the technology, but it is clear that any company wanting to offer an immersive experience of their products will find this interesting.

5G plans by the phone networks will move us to an environment where the network performance of phones out on the road will rival what can be achieved when at home or in the office. It opens up new possibilities for streaming and the remote use of data-intense activities such as VR.

Omnichannel being a key area of focus was interesting, too. This is really because the mobile customer has transformed the journey from thinking of a product to purchasing it. Review sites, social networks, price comparison sites, these have all transformed the customer journey and mobile devices facilitate a 24/7 approach to customer contact.

However the real question is where it will go next – especially once we move beyond the phone into wearables.

Click here to take a look at the Ovum summary of MWC16