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It’s always nice to be with 100,000 close friends at a mega-event like Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. With a career’s worth of trade shows under my belt, I’m still in awe of their size and scale – attendees literally need days just to make it through the building.

Here’s my big takeaway: mobile is no longer just about apps. It is about enabling a single, cohesive value chain that begins and ends with empathy for the individual user on the device of their choosing.

/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/fam_660125.jpgEverything begins with the user because 21st century mobile experiences require user-specific context as the key ingredient. We can’t unlock the value of technology if we don’t understand (and use) all available information about that individual. Where in the world are they and where are they trying to go? What are they trying to accomplish? What are their interests, challenges, likes, and limitations? All of this information is as significant for a business traveler as it is for a field mechanic on the job. This information is context – and context is the fuel that drives the mobile experience.

Once the value chain is equipped with context about the user, this is when intelligent, real-time networks can unlock the full power of connecting users, devices, and businesses.

For that business traveler, the context-driven network effect offers the promise of a personalized and productive visit to anywhere. Barcelona is the prime example. Powered by innovation from Telefonica, SAP’s HANA Cloud Platform and Concur, visitors to Spain’s second largest city will soon have a context-rich mobile experience. As visitors move around the city to experience breathtaking sites like La Sagrada Familia, businesses will have the opportunity to recognize each individual traveler based on their location and personalized itineraries. This will enable real-time, meaningful recommendations, promotions and other customized insights to help create a memorable experience. The traveler will effortlessly move from airport to hotel to meetings, and in the final act of simplicity, all of the associated spend shifts into a pre-populated expense report that can be automatically submitted at the end of the trip. This is the ultimate example of using the power of the network to improve people’s lives.

The same concept of contextually aware networks is fast becoming a reality in the workplace, as well. For the field mechanic, contextual information collected about her location, her expertise, and her supply inventory can help ensure that her time is maximized. The industrial equipment she maintains will communicate directly with the manufacturer, deploying early warnings about when service is necessary to prevent a breakdown. The manufacturer, in turn, is able to identify the most conveniently located field mechanic to provide the service – but only if that mechanic has the necessary part and expertise to do the work. This mobile experience is a prime example of how the Networked Economy and “Internet of Things” are dramatically revamping business processes and reshaping business models.

In each of the two examples, think about the sophistication necessary to deliver the outcomes. In both cases, the users, devices, and businesses are connected in that single, inherently mobile value chain. Data integrity, security, and privacy are all critical components in ultimately delivering an experience that, to the user, looks and feels simple.

For businesses, the sophistication goes a level deeper. To enable the this context-rich experience for the user, core business applications – like finance, point of sale, human capital management and procurement – all have to be integrated and extended into the network. We only know that the dispatched field mechanic has the right expertise if her employee profile from the human capital management system verifies that she does. For the Barcelona experience, businesses can only engage the traveler if their reservations, point of sale and social media channels are fully integrated.

Both outcomes may appear simple, but the inputs are anything but.

So if you didn’t get the chance to take a casual stroll past the 2,000 exhibitors at the Mobile World Congress, mobile is the clear standard, and the expansive opportunities it offers to create a new world are endless. The focus now belongs on bringing together the platform, applications, and networks necessary to make “simple” real for every user on any device.

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  1. Justin Williams

    Many thanks for taking the time to share your perspective on MWC and the opportunity for SAP to change the world through innovating the end-user experience with contextual value.  It is also great to see your support for SAP’s Mobile business, ably led by Rick Costanzo, which will make the complex simple!

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  2. Paul Harris

    I fully agree with your takeaway comment and believe that this applies equally to consumers, information workers, and industrial workers such as maintenance technicians.

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  3. Marilyn Pratt

    Having just returned from SAP TechEd Bangalore and meetings there with other attendees of the Mobile World Congress I can add some possible and important “create a new Mobile world” opportunities.

    Mobile is the “change the world” future of health, education and equality but only if we give women more access.

    Ann Rosenberg and I talked about addressing the gender gap in mobile access: Over 1.7 Billion Women in Emerging Economies Do Not Own Mobiles Phones: GSMA | NDTV Gadgets

    We met in Bangalore with Carme Baraldes, an SAP customer and the Operational Systems Project Lead for Doctors Without Borders based in Barcelona Spain: Doctors without Borders Leveraging SAP Technology in India | SAP TechEd Online

    Carme, Ann and I spoke of next years Mobile Congress in Barcelona and the SAP TechEd EMEA there and hope to move the dial forward in conversations around mobile parity.

    I would love to see our leadership firmly drive mobile initiatives that are not only good for business but are part of the good business of changing the world for good.

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  4. Matt Perry

    It was great to see you attend MWC, the awards you gave for the kids that were using our platform to innovate mobile applications was heart warming – this generation only knows mobile so it is critical for SAP that our solutions meet the expectations of a consumer lead generation – awards like this really help us engage them.

    I am glad that you pointed out the necessary security and data integrity requirements when delivering SAP mobile solutions, if users do not trust then they will not partake – if they do not partake full context aware solutions become very difficult to achieve.

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