Every now and then, WIRED brings together a small group of people from multiple sectors and disciplines to talk. The aim is simple: to share ideas, discuss new trends and debate the value and impact of emerging technologies. On Monday 13 March 2017, one of these evenings was held at Condé Nast’s UK HQ with partner Accenture. This time, the topic brought to the table for discussion by WIRED editor Greg Williams was the biggest trends and technologies announced and unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC). “For me, it was the quieter things that were making the most noise,” said James Temperton, WIRED senior editor and reporter from MWC. “Things like the unanswered questions around 5G and also the fact that in the coming years we won’t be tapping our interfaces, we’ll be talking to them.” Asus Customer Service UK Attendees ranged from Caroline Drucker of Instagram’s strategic partnerships and Christina Nesheva from Hive Innovation Unit, to Paul Coby, CIO of John Lewis and Brooke Stevens, head of international research at Shazam.Topics touched upon included the shift in the ownership model of cars, with the mass introduction of driverless transportation, and the potential for data-driven product design and personalisation.
“Using qualitative ways of customising experiences. So businesses making decision based on numbers – not old white men making decisions on gut feelings,” said one attendee. From here, a short debate took hold. Surely, said some, these customisations could only come from gathering people’s data – something many users are still queasy about with respect to their browsing, messaging and location information, even if it’s in their interest. Terence Eden, open standards lead at Government Digital Service, drew on the general stasis seen in mobile hardware to highlight a need for refinement. “We’ve reached an inflection point where things are good enough,” he said. “If we look at the big sellers at the moment, it’s stuff that’s plateau-level. People have reached a level where they are happy – apart from with their battery life, of course.”
For such big sellers to thrive, however, it’s key that they open up, said Accenture managing director and go-to-market lead George Marcotte: “Businesses have a choice between continuing with the internal, closed-shop practices of the past, or opening their innovation capabilities to an entire ecosystem of innovative partners.”