If you’ve had a fairly senior role in the world of Telecommunications/Connectivity and have been in the industry for a number of years, odds on you will have attended Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. For many, this is a rite of passage. For many also, primarily down to often huge distances between meeting locations, the event is both anticipated and dreaded in equal measure. Let’s just say I’ve been before so come well equipped for the week!  

It’s perhaps a not too well-known fact that there are in fact three MWCs each year, put on by the GSMA. Things start with the biggie late February/March in Barcelona, moving to Shanghai at the end of June and then Las Vegas in (now) October. Barcelona is the real monster with over 100,000 people attending each year though, an event which brings c. EUR 500 million to the city of Barcelona. Plus (as I found out personally) it is a mecca for the world’s often very skilful thieves. That’s a different story though!  

Having now been with XConnect for a couple of months, I’m getting into the swing of things and enjoying attending industry events rather than putting them together and help run them! This especially goes for Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) proceedings given I was there for three years and never really fully got to enjoy everything I had a hand in delivering.  

The MEF is a great non-profit organisation which provides a terrific platform for its members and the wider Mobile community to gather, collaborate and make a real difference. XConnect is a proud MEF member and also an active player within other trade organisations such as i3forum and the GSMA. The MEF events team might be few in number but have fearsome output: I have never known an organisation put on so many quality events all over the world (Canada, USA, UK, South Africa, Malaysia, India etc.) and what they do in Barcelona each year now during MWC is simply stunning.
The location they choose is a historical masterpiece, the content varied and great and I have to admit the food isn’t too bad either! It’s a wonderful place to get business done and a real benefit of being a MEF member. Thanks to Susan Finlayson-Sitch, Nicola Burton, Carol Benites and all at MEF for doing grand work again this year and a shout out to our very own Tim Ward, Chief Strategy Officer of XConnect and MEF Board Member, who was bestowed with the honour of being voted as the individual having made the biggest personal contribution to the ecosystem this past year at MEF’s annual awards ceremony. To say Tim was rather pleased is an understatement as you can see from his beaming smile in this little post: Tim Ward wins a MEF award ! 
It has been well over a decade since I last was at MWC in Barcelona representing an organisation that actually had a stand at the so-called ‘Fira’, exhibition centre, so 2024 made for a very nice change for me.
Having a stand to work from, host meetings etc. is supremely valuable and the icing on the cake was that a large swathe of C-levels from both XConnect and our parent company Somos were present. Being able to introduce clients and prospects to two CEOs, CTOs etc. at a time was fairly unique and very valuable for building and fostering those relationships.  

At MWC events you get to meet representatives from a vast array of supremely varied organisations: think mobile operators, messaging aggregators, cybersecurity players, contact centre operators, infrastructure providers, telecoms regulators, CPaaS providers and far more. And what I am really seeing is that they ALL have one thing in common. Whether it’s their clients, suppliers or other types of stakeholders, knowing the integrity of their phone numbers and what might be going on with these numbers at any point in time is mighty valuable to helping stop fraud in its tracks, increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and so much more.  The world really is an oyster for number intelligence and I am enjoying looking at it from so many different angles.  

Thanks to Henri Shone and Sarah Svensson from our Marketing team for putting the great environment together for us all at MWC making MWC 2024 very successful for both XConnect and Somos people present in Spain.  

With post-MWC follow-up well underway, it’s now time to start looking to the other upcoming industry events. Next up for me will be the GSMA WAS event in Istanbul in April, kindly organised and sponsored by Monty Mobile. That same week MEF is running perhaps the most focused Business Messaging event looking at the vast market that is India in Mumbai, which I’ll personally be missing for the first time. I can do many things but replicating myself is not one unfortunately. And then in May, Capacity Media roll in with their growing event in Washington, ITW.  

I look forward to seeing many of you reading this, in person in the coming months again and wherever you might be and whatever you’re up to, keep an eye out for the bad actors.
They never have a day off…