Weve's Nigel Clarkson's gone to Barca, again: Day 1
A view from Nigel Clarkson

Weve's Nigel Clarkson's gone to Barca, again: Day 1

Nigel Clarkson, commercial director of Weve, is once again soaking up the vibe from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

Day 1

Once again, the size and scale of Mobile World Congress hits you immediately.

Think of the biggest exhibition hall you've ever been in. Put eight of them next to each other and cram them full of all of the best and most futuristic mobile technology and you have an idea of quite how huge this week is for mobile globally.

Royalty were present. Day one was opened by the King of Spain and then closed by the King of Social, Mark Zuckerberg, who flew in as keynote speaker to talk about his continuing mission to connect the world through his internet.org initiative.

It was interesting this year to see Mark sharing a stage with some of the mobile operators in a show of solidarity in pushing connectivity across the world.

The key to making the most of Barcelona is proper planning. There are back-to-back speaker sessions with senior digital experts all day that are must-sees.

Then any time outside of this is time for meetings and the chance to see the dazzling array of future mobile developments – hardware, ad tech, wearables, and the "internet of things" (now seemingly known as Connected Living) to name but a few.

The key themes on day one in the lectures were around personalisation, connected consumers, and identity solutions.

The Personalising the Consumer Experience session looked at the power of utilising data and previous behaviour, in order to improve a brands digital functionality and interactions with customers.

What is interesting is that personalisation feels like it is an emotional concept. But in order to personalise effectively, you need to properly absorb data, which is not emotional but functional and cold.

The outcome is that on a mobile phone, that most personal device, people are coming to expect a more bespoke service based on previous interactions, and companies should be thinking about how that best fits into what they do and how they do it.

Nick Dutch at Domino's talked about personalisation and interestingly it wasn't just for advertising purposes, but for consumer benefit. Knowing where and when customers want your products delivered means the experience itself can be personalised. Of course, it comes back to data and an understanding of what insights that data can deliver.

Chris Moody oversees the Twitter data team and spoke at length about utilising their behavioural data to provide personalised services for customers. Twitter is fast becoming the first port of call for when people have poor service from a brand and that area is where some brands have had some amazing successes but also so many still fail on.

The challenge of a personal customer issue shared very publicly is a new concept for brands to have to try to get to grips with and we have grown to expect immediate results.

The IAB and Facebook put on a thought leadership day around the themes of Now, New and Next. Erin Kienast, SVP Mobility at Starcom, talked of mobile being more accountable than any other media channel, with significantly more data, and this is only set to continue.

The challenge is how can mobile be compared to, or planned alongside, other media channels as part of a whole communications plan, when there is such disparity in the data sets available? But the reality is that while mobile is so accountable as a channel it will continue to grow in importance for clients.

The very impressive Gary Morrison from Expedia talked about the challenge of harnessing partner data (3rd party) but making sure it always tracks back to your own CRM data.

This is particularly true and one of our biggest areas of discussion currently is around helping clients to make sense of their own data, matched against Weve's database to make the most accurate means of separating loyalty messages for existing customers to acquisition strategies for new business.

As usual, data was centre stage in most presentations. How best to find it, what to do with it, concern about it, and the effect of a well crafted user experience if you get it right.

Lindsay Pattison, the global chief executive of Maxus was interviewed by Sarah Peronette from Facebook's Global Marketing, and opened with the statement that Maxus vision is not Mobile First but People First.

Interestingly, most people on stage throughout the day stated they weren't mobile first, but they were something else (that normally involved mobile). All of them maintained that mobile, or mobility, was important but was part of the process, not *the* process.

Lindsay clearly understood how mobile can best be used for her clients and has very detailed knowledge as any modern CEO should of the marketplace, and the intricacies of inter-connected data sets and outputs for clients.

The Maxus leader also threw down a challenge that there are no (or not many) creatives in Barcelona. So there's a challenge to crack mobile creativity that the whole marketing industry agrees on, and no creatives to join the debate. Food for thought for next year maybe?

There were a couple of sessions about integrating interactions and connected consumers, which showed a glimpse of some of the amazing possibilities of the world we are all moving towards.

The halls are full of smartwatch companies, and wearable tech businesses all trying to work out where they fit in and how they can be a part of the whole connected mobile world. 

I have no doubt that when Apple release their Smartwatch this year, the market will explode, but the functionality of a watch that has a screen too small to really read on, needs to be next to your phone to work, and are generally still pretty ugly still have to be addressed.

But some of the watches being released now are more stylish, and have interesting health/fitness applications so expect them to be Christmas 2015's best selling item.

The health benefits of wearable tech for blood pressure, heart rates etc are amazing and I'm sure at some point not too far away, a visit to the doctor will start with a download of data from some sort of mobile tech device.

So that was it for day one. So much going on, too much to see and too little time. Now to find a quiet bar for a little unwind and recharge my battery...

Nigel Clarkson is commercial director of Weve