- 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.
The competitive dialogue phase for a new Government of Catalonia ICT contracting model closes this week with the termination of the third and final round of dialogues with the participating companies. With the conclusion of this round table, during which participants had to discuss the cost model, the contracting model, resources and assets that they proposed as the best solution for each of the four dialogues, the dialogue phase comes to an end and a period of bidding for the new model opens, which will close at the end of June with the final awarding of the contracts.
Over many weeks, each and every one of the companies participating in the process gave the best of themselves, providing the best solutions and the best professionals.
As the Government of Catalonia, we are extremely satisfied with the involvement of the participants in the dialogues; the debates were enriching and the proposals, brilliant. As an administration, we have the obligation to preserve the work accomplished through this process: all this knowledge, all this talent, is of the highest level. It is truly worthy of publication as the White Paper on Telecommunications and Information Technologies of Catalonia, but, regrettably, this cannot be.
We are aware that the efforts made by the companies in this process sought a twofold objective. The main one and most evident: to attain one or more contracts through this tender. However, no less important was that of moving Catalonia forward, experimenting with new formulas for public-private collaboration and providing the government with what it needed: savings and modernisation. We are sure that the companies share in the Government’s feeling that ICTs are a gear shift and that, based on this affirmation, our Catalan nature has brought out the best in us all and has allowed us to speak of a successful process that has exceeded all expectations. We are to be congratulated.
The dialogue is over and soon the bidding will commence. The next few weeks will be paramount for the companies participating in this process, and we trust that the nerves and pressures of the moment will not distract us from seeking any other objective than presenting the best bids, the winning bids.
These bids must propose improving the ICT services of the Government of Catalonia in terms of price, and this can only be achieved by doing things differently. We are living in complicated times in which the government must do more with less, this we already know. Would that it were otherwise, a situation in which the sector was also driven by public contracting based on the quantity of investment, and not just qualitatively, as it is now.
We are aware that the sector’s satisfaction with the contracts awarded will be lower than the expectations generated. The reason is simple: less will be spent on ICT services than before. One thing is certain; we will have a new ICT sector ecosystem.
In this new ecosystem to be created based on the award, it is obvious that companies in the sector will outsource among themselves. The Government does not want to be a stranger to these processes, since the industrial policy of a government is to be informed of such processes. Therefore, we are moving towards finding the appropriate tools so that the CTTI and the Directorate General for Telecommunications and the Information Society can monitor the way in which this outsourcing is done. Let us not forget that we are talking about public funds, provided by the citizens, which we are ‘returning’ to the system. However, this cannot be done just any way.
The dialogues now come to a close and the awarding will start before summer. And if someone were to ask: And now what? Well, once this work is finished, we carry on.
The ICT sector, with or without public contracting, must continue to transform the economy and society. The Government of Catalonia is aware of this and therefore we will promote it. Internally, we will go ahead with new projects which we will explain in the coming months and for which we will need the sector. Externally, the idigital Plan, the Government’s new strategy to make Catalonia a hub of innovation and the digital society, will place emphasis on the use of ICTs by businesses and citizens. We will continue to build, to build while innovating, and we will continue to support the sector which, without a doubt, will get us out of the crisis.