Mobile World Congress Barcelona logo seen on the screen of smartphone among a pile of face masks in the background.
PHOTO: Ascannio

Mobile World Congress Barcelona, an annual global trade show showcasing advancements in mobile and other progressive technologies, kicks off Monday, Feb. 28 in Barcelona.

The annual event will focus on the theme of “Connectivity Unleashed,” which includes 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence advancements, internet of everything, cloud computing advancements, fintech and startup innovation. 

The event, also dubbed MWC Barcelona 2022, runs most of next week at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona and concludes Thursday, March 3. It is hosted by GSMA, a global organization that claims to unify the mobile ecosystem to “discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change.”

This year’s MWC includes more than 1,000 speakers, 1,500 exhibitors and 37 country pavilions. 

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GSMA Statement on Russian Military Advancement

The global event takes place under the cloud of uncertainty over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. GSMA released a statement regarding the Russian military advancement into its neighboring country:

“The GSMA strongly condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The situation is fast-moving, and we understand that various governments are considering broader sanctions against Russia. In light of this emerging situation and considering the tragic loss of life, MWC seems immaterial under the circumstances.

"MWC is a unifying event with a vision to convene the mobile ecosystem to progress ways and means that connectivity can ensure people, industry and society thrive. The GSMA follows all government sanctions and policies resulting from this situation. There will be no Russian Pavilion at MWC22. Security for the event is constantly reviewed and adjusted as information emerges.”

List of Speakers Range From Several Industries

The industries represented at Mobile World Congress 2022 include government, finance, soccer and, for the first time, digital art and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). One speaker is Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart, who will speak about how the convergence of the physical and digital worlds is creating new opportunities for the 277-year-old company.

Other speakers include:

  • Shuky Sheffer, President & CEO, Amdocs
  • Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T
  • Adam Selipsky, CEO, Amazon Web Services
  • Jim McKelvey, co-founder & director, Block (Formerly Square)
  • Yang Jie, chairman, China Mobile
  • Ruiwen Ke, chairman & CEO, China Telecom
  • LieHong Liu, chairman & CEO, China Unicom
  • Joan Laporta, President, FC Barcelona
  • Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA
  • Cher Wang, chairperson, HTC
  • Mauricio Ramos, CEO, Millicom
  • Paul Polman, business leader, campaigner, and co-author, Net Positive
  • Pekka Lundmark, President & CEO, Nokia

Discussions Planned Around Tech Diversity 

The Diversity4Tech Summit will host a range of speakers focused on making a case for greater diversity and inclusion in business and the technology sector, according to GSMA officials.

A lack of tech diversity remains a global issue. For instance, in the UK, only 15% of the tech workforce are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds and gender diversity is currently sitting at 19% compared to 49% for all other jobs. Further, 83% of white people are represented in the executive’s category in the tech sector, whereas African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans are represented at a significantly lower rate according to Diversity in Tech.

Related Article: Deepening Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Marketing

Building Policies in a Digital World

Mobile World Congress officials also expect ministers, policymakers and industry leaders to discuss closing the digital gap, meeting global climate targets, building policies for a digital world and maximizing the potential of 5G. 

“Political, regulatory and telecom leaders recognize the importance of gathering in Barcelona to debate the issues and steer a course towards economic recovery and a digitally inclusive world,” MWC officials said.

Some Sessions Marketers and CX Sessions Should Watch

If you're a marketer or CX professional attending MWC Barcelona 2022 or watching from afar virtually, here are some sessions to watch:

  • Notre Dame De Paris: Journey Through Time in VR: This demo will invite visitors to experience an immersive journey through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Why should marketers and CX professionals care? VR and AR experiences could become the norm soon in terms of what customers expect when navigating a brand’s experience.
  • Digital Inclusion: What Will It Take To Get Everyone Connected? Are you building inclusive digital experiences? And is connectivity possible in the areas for which you’re targeting and marketing? This session will be a good one for discovering what’s going on in the world of digital accessibility. Currently, 94% of the world’s population is covered by mobile broadband networks, according to event officials. However, 3.5 billion people live in areas with access to a mobile network but remain disconnected. They are disproportionately women, rural, poorer and less educated, and this session will talk strategies to build connection opportunities.
  • Keynote 2: Value Creation: This session will cover network investments and an expanding device ecosystem, and officials say the real value now lies at the intersection of service innovation and network intelligence. The jump to 5G and advancements towards 6G is opening new use cases, and brands should be up to speed on the latest technologies.
  • Building Trustworthy AI: Marketers and customer experience professionals should be up to speed on how AI can infuse into experience-building programs and existing tech stacks. However, there are ethical implications of building out these experiences using AI and machine learning. In the session, researchers, businesses and civil society representatives will analyze and debate how the industry can keep developing AI safely and ethically without killing innovation, according to company officials. 

GSMA Comes to North America in Vegas

Finally, for those who will miss out on the trip to Spain next week, the GSMA announced this week the North American edition of MWC will move to Las Vegas beginning this year. It’s scheduled for Sept. 28–30. The event is part of the GSMA’s annual series of MWC events that includes editions in Barcelona, Africa and Shanghai.

Like Barcelona’s event next week, it focuses on the theme of Connectivity Unleashed and will explore how connectivity is shaping the future and continuing to transform lives via topics such as 5G, IoT Connectivity, Telco Cloud and Disruptive Innovation.