MWC and digital transformation are suffering a weird kind of lull

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Image credit: Nuno Andre |

There seems to be a lull, a mini trough of despondency. Watching MWC from afar, journalists are now prowling the halls looking for news, any kind of (real) news. They are, frankly, bored of ‘new’ smartphones which only boast incremental features – ‘waterproof and slightly sexier’ is no longer attracting attention.

In fact, the only thing that seems to have caught some journalists’ attention seems to be the banana phone from HMD/Nokia, a sort of retro, back to the future effect in the largest trade show of its kind in the world.

Even Rory Cellan Jones of the BBC was making fun of the lack of excitement.

You have to wonder why.

And the ‘why’ could well be that we are indeed in a lull, a trough.

Having overhyped a wide range of technologies (and even 5G is not as close as many at MWC would have us believe, see our snake oil warnings) the industry has a challenge on its hands. It cannot feasibly carry on overhyping AI, VR, 5G or anything else that seems to be inserted into Press Releases at the moment. Many of these, we are sure, are written by AI-driven machine learning drones that pick buzzwords out of the ether and insert them into vendors’ product launches and announcements.

Others, of course, are not.

A classic example of this lull between the bright horizons of a proper, transformed, digital world, and the snow-laden shallowness of the current one is this:

There is a small village in the south of England. It is called West Tytherley. It is quite near the villages of Middle Wallop, Over Wallop and Nether Wallop (we kid you not). This area of the South of England is probably home to the richest 5% of the population.

Yet, there is no mobile coverage whatsoever for miles and miles in any given direction.

Imagine the excitement in this small village when the lane that leads to the shop was blocked by a large truck. That, by the way, was not the excitement. The excitement was that the truck had delivered a mobile phone mast.

The excitement increased as the mast was put up overnight.

Soon, the rich, yet digitally remote part of the country would be bathed in the warm glow of 4G coverage.

Except, of course, it wasn’t that simple.

A week later, the truck was back. The owner of the shop was now highly excited because she had the story – she knew why the truck was back.

The truck was back because the contractors had put the instruments in upside down.

You have to wonder whether the mobile industry itself is in a similar state.

We have the technology, the boxes, the showcases and the potential all on show. But, for now, the humans are still putting the instruments in upside down.

Once automation and AI actually do what ‘they’ say they do, this, presumably, will not happen. The question is how long we will have to wait before these things actually start working.

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