Day three of the World Mobile Congress and Weve's commercial director Nigel Clarkson is bringing it home.
It's probably the best indication of the sheer scale of this conference that even by the end of day three there were whole halls still unexplored, full to the brim of new and innovative hardware and software solutions.
The day started early with a great session on Connected Living and the Internet of Things. It's far too big a topic to go into here, but the session looked at technological challenges, and how operators will work with connected industries.
With a potential 11 billion multiple connections coming soon, the need for partnerships is hugely important.
The challenge to consumers is of course that clients are likely to design specific systems and develop partnerships that may be on an exclusive basis, but the way for these connections to achieve scale is through agnostic channels and handset partnerships.
The Motoring sector and the fitness sector seem to be the areas making the most headway in this connected world, but with Google's purchase of Nest, we should expect household connectivity to expand quickly over the course of the next year.
Winning the multi-screen home
Staying with the theme of in-home, the next session was covering the battle for the Multi-Screen home. The TV, as we all know, has long been the leading in-home advertising vehicle, as well as being the original in-home "screen".
The emergence of laptops, Smartphones and Tablets has led to a proliferation of time spent across all screens, whether viewing traditional TV content, online video content, or for social, gaming, messaging or email.
We all know that Twitter and TV have publicised many examples of working together (whether by accident or otherwise) and so the concept of multi-screening or media-meshing become important.
My view is that this shouldn't be seen as a "TV or screen" debate, but rather what can they all do together, or separately, that other media no longer do, or are not as effective as a truly thought-out cross-screen media plan.
Time is a key contextual element here as recent insight has shown that watching TV "live" is still the majority of TV impacts, and mobile can certainly help increase the reach of the traditional TV spot due to its timely ability to send messages at exact times.
One of the highest engagement SMS campaigns Weve sent last year was an extension to TV activity around X-Factor, so we are excited to be looking at more positive stories like this in 2014.
There are a whole lot of companies like Mastercard, Ford, and Yale locks for example who aren't strictly "mobile" businesses but are clearly looking to benefit by "mobilising" their businesses.
It is clear that clients are looking to ensure all aspects of their business are fit for mobile, with many taking a 'mobile-first' approach.
Which is why it is still very scary that as many as 60% of UK businesses still don't have a mobile-specific site and a figure I read yesterday which astounded me was that only two of the FTSE100 UK companies have a properly responsive mobile web design.
Aside from that most obvious basic requirement, most businesses are also busy trying to ensure the best mobile user experience, covering customer service, mobile purchasing, feedback and loyalty scheme management.
Again the challenge as traffic migrates this way is how to monetise these eyeballs who are moving away from desktop web experiences.
Putting the people into tech
One very interesting session I sat in was around mobile innovation, chaired by Genevieve Bell from Intel labs was a Technical Anthropologist (made up job title) whose role was to "put the 'people' into the technology". Which actually sounds like a function that a lot of tech/mobile businesses could do much more work on.
She looked at the whole area of wearable tech and as per my comments yesterday, found that the deciding question in their success will not just be how and what will I use this for, but why would I use it.
She took us through a journey of the development of wearable tech going all the way back to suits of armour (she called it armor, which was clearly annoying), glasses and wrist watches. They were all wearable tech before someone invented the term. An interesting (without being highly useful) session.
Five of the best
Next up was an entrepreneurs' pitch session where five new start ups got the chance to pitch their business idea to a panel and the 1,000 people in the audience.
The very different businesses varied from Brewster, a service that automatically centralised all your contacts from every social/business source you have into one place and allowed managed messages to them (https://www.brewster.com/).
We also had Y-Plan the social discovery app that allows you to find new things to do via a mixture of curated content and crowd-sourced feedback (http://yplanapp.com/).
There was uMotif, a medical self-analysis app that allows long-term sick patients to monitor their conditions and for doctors to access their health dashboard when they came for check-ups (https://www.umotif.com/).
And there was Moovit, a transport app that allows crowd-sourced information combined with live travel data to plan a smooth journey every time (http://www.moovitapp.com/). All great ideas that felt like they will find a strong hold in niche markets without necessarily going big.
But the winner with 48% of the vote was for a very impressive new app called Wibbitz, which turned any piece of text into an instant video in real time.
Take a news article, and the text is then turned into a video so you can watch and listen to it being read back to you. Admittedly the English Voice-Over sounded like a cross between Davina McCall and Stephen Hawkins voicebox, but the idea looked amazing.
Made in Britain
The example shown was clearly a pre-loaded one so I am very keen to try this with live examples. The programme takes out key words (an algorithm defines "key" here) and puts them into pictures, graphs and existing web-based video content to demonstrate that part of the text.
The ability to put letters, static news articles and even presentations into a video content feels like a smart idea and clearly the crowd agreed as it came out the clear winner.
As a little parochial side-note, it was great to see that uMotif and Yplan were both businesses born in Britain and spreading out of London globally. To have two of the five best new innovation ideas coming out if the UK is important to our industry to ensure at least some kind of challenge to the West Coast so watch those two businesses and fingers crossed for their development.
There was then a presentation on Google glasses/Blippar live on stage. The old acting phrase that you should "never work with animals or children" should probably now include a modern day "or demonstrate Google Glasses live on stage".
I've seen it done three times now, and three times the tech has not worked or seriously underwhelmed. I spoke to a tech guy in a breakout area later and tried on his glasses - the voice-recognition and functionality is, as you would expect from Google, pretty impressive.
But you'd still look like an utter glasshole walking round with them on, speaking into the arm of your spectacles and tapping the side of your head like you had OCD, so I guess there's a bit of work still to do. But there is no doubt that they will be very popular with early adopter tech fans.
To be able to speak out loud "Google glasses take picture, send message to Arif Durrani" and it happens without touching a button is pretty impressive/scary/weird. I'll wait until Ray-Bans design a pair before I get involved if that's OK?
2020 and beyond
The last session of the day was a five hour session (!) – 'Looking into 2020 and Beyond'. The benefit of these sessions is you can pretty much say what you like with little come-back, however there were some spectacular insights into what our connected world could look like in six years' time.
Mobile wallet and money services featured across all of the sessions, to create a whole new digital financial ecosystem with easy M2M (Machine-to-Machine) transfers, retail payments and benefits particularly in the developing world.
Most concentration on M-Commerce thus far has been around online payments, the big move will be around payments and offers in-store as retailers and consumers alike use their mobiles as shopping guides, price comparisons in real time and fulfilment at point of sale.
Good news for retailers as this M-Commerce function continues to drive people in-store, up-sell once there, and can retain learned data to better guide real-time and tactical offers based around loyalty schemes. A lot of this technology already exists. It is just a case of expanding it and scaling through National retailers.
Another good day of insight. Now where to go "networking" tonight? Twitter Party, Swedish beers, the Mobile Mafia dinner or Hotel Omm. Decisions, decisions...
Nigel Clarkson is commercial director of Weve
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