Walking the floors of Fira Europa in Barcelona last week made me realise how much Mobile World Congress this year was about everything except the mobile phones.
Sure Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei and the likes have all used this annual mobile fest to announce or launch their latest flagship smartphones. It's interesting for instance to see that curved screen we saw in R&D labs only a few years ago is now mainstream and a big trends this year. The new Samsung S6 Edge is really slick with its curvy edges and is likely going to be a big hit when it launches later this year. The LG Flex 2 also uses curve screen and while it might look odd at first, it very quickly feels natural in your hand.
But the real star of the show was HTC Vive, not a new HTC mobile phone but a VR device! For the very few lucky journalists that got to try it, praises have been pouring in with Engadget stating it made them believe in VR, Telegraph giving it a 5 star rating, and TechCrunch saying it's the most exciting technology they've seen in the last five year.
The fact that the real star of the show is a virtual reality headset epitomises what 'mobile' has really become: a fixture!
Sure mobile originally meant that phone we managed to unwire a couple of decades ago and start carrying with us in our pocket. But mobile has evolved massively since then to a point where it now represents an entire ecosystem and not just a device anymore. In a way the devices we call mobile are really fixtures and the mobile element is the experience you carry across the ecosystem. Take Spotify for instance. That's the mobile element as you can carry it from your desktop, to your headphone bluetooth connected to your smartphone, to your car sound system bluetooth connected to your tablet or soon to your smartwatch (which is itself connected to the smartphone).
Mobile is fragmented into many elements. And this brings me onto my next point.
One of the reason I found myself at Mobile World Congress this year was to join a panel of CEOs to discuss what they wanted from mobile and why most C-suites haven't yet fully embrace the mobile revolution. Quite a broad question that I decided to answer, the only way I could, with a tech metaphor: "It's maybe time for CEO's to hit the defrag button"
When your computer starts to run slow you usually have two options: chuck more resources at it, in the form of extra RAM memory, or hit the defrag button which reorganises your fragmented memory clusters into a more healthy allocation. This result in your computer running faster and smoother.
In a way, CEOs are facing a similar issue with their organisation because of the explosions of channels that they now have to bear with, particularly in digital. Digital landscape is as fragmented as it's ever been. And as highlighted by Mobile World Congress in recent years, even mobile channel is now subdivided into numerous sub-channels: smartphone, phablet, tablet, wearables, web apps, native apps, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Social Media that only works on mobile like Snapchat and Instagram, Augmented Reality, Location-Based Marketing with NFC, Geo-Fencing and Beacons, and even smartphone that can be turned into VR headset.
The result is that fragmentation has sneaked in organisations almost unnoticeably, yet having massive impact and strain on resources. CEOs have to support ever increasing fragmented distribution channels. CMOs have to deal with fragmented customer experience, fragmented agency roster and fragmented metrics. CFO and COO have to manage fragmented budgets, processes and governances. CTO and CIO have to support fragmented platform and maintain fragmented skill sets. And, like with the computer running slow, the de-facto option for most organisation seems to be to chuck more resources at the problem.
This is possibly why a lot of organisations are slow to embrace the full power of mobile because it's yet more channels and therefore fragmentation.
Now the question is what could this defrag button be? Using blue sky thinking and taking inspiration from this tech metaphor, maybe it's time for CEOs to appoint Chief Defragmentation Officer whose sole purpose is to align and optimise the organisation's resources, governances and metrics. This way C-suites might have less reticence in fully embracing innovation and its wonderful explosions of new digital channels.