- 14 October 2013
Only a month has gone by since the end of one the most historic editions of the Mobile World Congress, yet it is now virtually forgotten. The hectic pace of events, helped along by the immediacy of ICT, should not make us lose sight of what the MWC has given Barcelona and Catalonia: spectacular figures in all areas and some highly promising final conclusions, which require us to expand the outlook and strategic objectives that an event of this nature has and can have for our country in both the short and medium-term future.
Quantitative data show that this year’s Mobile World Congress broke all records; over 72,000 visitors from more than 200 countries, an increase of 8% on the previous year, 4,300 of whom were senior executives and CEOs from the most important multinationals in the telecommunications and digital technologies sector worldwide.
Participating companies, of which there were more than 1,700 (compared to 1,500 the previous year), increased (in tangible terms) their business contacts at specific meetings by over 30%, and there was also naturally a constant hubbub of contacts among managers and executives of participating firms. An estimated average of 200 interviews per company gives an idea of the frenetic pace of work done at the Gran Via 2 complex during the 4 days of the fair. The number of Catalan companies taking part meanwhile increased by 40% and amounted to a total of 48 firms, with constant support from the Ministry of Enterprise and Labour, through ACC1Ó and the Directorate-General for Telecommunications and the Information Society.
Significantly, all these record figures have been registered in a year of sharp economic decline, not only in Catalonia and Europe, but also in the rest of the world, thus indicating the importance of digital technologies and telecommunications as a pillar of world industry and competitiveness, and the opportunities for business and growth that they generate. Despite the unfavourable economic environment, every company, ranging from the gigantic Asian multinationals to the smaller start-ups taking part, was perfectly aware of the importance of attendance at what is one of the world’s most important technology fairs, alongside those of Taipei and Berlin.
We should celebrate the great success of the Mobile World Congress 2013 (the organisation of which has been unanimously praised by the world’s major media groups) and acknowledge the great work done by Fira Barcelona, Barcelona City Council, the Government of Catalonia, the GSMA and the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Foundation (to which said agents belong). As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we need to reflect on what the strategic objectives of such a significant event for our country should be.
Having further enhanced the ‘Barcelona brand’ through the MWC and other events revolving around it (the Mobile World Capital, the Mobile World Centre and other initiatives that will inseparably associate the Barcelona brand with mobility), a way needs to be devised so that this integration of the very best of start-of-the-art technology with the urban fabric, the social fabric of Barcelona and, therefore, Catalonia, can yield as many sustainable benefits as possible for our businesses and our citizens in order that the MWC’s power to generate wealth may spread throughout the country’s economic sectors.
This must be based on the consensus of all the country’s social and economic stakeholders, in order to align efforts and build the adherence and understanding involved in organising the MWC within the urban, economic and social identity of twenty-first century Catalonia.
The success of MWC organisation and participation is most definitely the result of a way of working and of understanding the significance of the results of collective effort, and should provide great incentive to continue working along the same lines. The difference between a dream and a goal can be as simple as setting a date, and there is already a date for next year: 24 to 27 February, once again in Barcelona.