The excitement, the energy, the sore feet once again engulfed us in the beautiful city of Barcelona for arguably the greatest show on Earth – Mobile World Congress.  Well, for those of us in networking, anyway. The theme for Mobile World Congress 2017 is: The Next Element.

Upon reading “The Next Element” for the first time, I immediately thought of a 1997 science fiction film by Luc Besson – The Fifth Element.  The film borrowed an idea from Plato.  That idea was taking the four classical elements – earth, water, wind, and fire – and combining them to make a fifth – life.

But hold that thought for a moment.

What does “The Next Element” mean?  Let’s see what the Mobile World Congress website has to say: “It’s [Mobile] a phenomenon at the heart of everything we do. It’s fundamental to our everyday lives. It’s the force behind every emerging innovation, every forward-thinking idea.  How do we describe the role of mobile in today’s world?


If I’m running a business, I’m dealing with many business applications and customers to whom I need to deliver a good experience.   These are the things I need to focus on.   Yet, critical to me is the network and its services.  But as a business executive, I should not have to worry about the details and complexities of any networking.  I don’t want to worry about details of mobile or fixed or whatever.  My customers increasingly want to access my applications through mobile devices. They should be able to interact with my business where and when they want. I simply want my customers to have a great experience along with my employees and partners.

I want the network to be secure and elemental!

But what does this mean more specifically?  We contracted a survey of small, medium and large businesses across all major world regions.  This is what they said they value in regard to network services:

  • Personalize our experience – make it friendly to regular human beings
  • Protect our stuff – the services, applications and most important, the data!
  • Let us self-serve for network services – as easy as buying on Amazon.
  • Give us on-demand network services – turn up/down, scale up/down, as needed
  • Bill for what we consume – no waste due to idle services or capacity

Elemental, aren’t they?

We have taken these to be elemental to what we need to do to help those businesses and you, the service providers, who serve them.

In the Cisco booth at MWC, we built a zone called, “Create Business Services”. What attendees learned here is our perspective on the digitalization trend that’s affecting every business in every industry. We also showed how and what this means to any service provider. Simply put, it is a large and transformational opportunity.  However, capturing this opportunity comes with a condition – to change and conduct your business differently.  Your business customers are very open to engage with you to help them with their IT needs. They want to focus on their core business needs.   But you need to deliver on the elemental promises above.

Now let’s keep in mind your needs too:

  • reduce network complexity
  • automate services and assurance
  • protect yourself and your customers
  • get insights and experiences to easily stay on top of what is going on in your operations.

All together, these are required to drive profitable business outcomes while you deliver that which business customers fundamentally need.

We are in the unique position because of our presence in enterprise, commercial and public sector markets. We can bring the insights and needs of your business customers to you. With our multi-directional perspective, we have created solutions that will work for you and your business customers.  But more than that, help you capture more of the opportunity presented by the industrial digitalization happening right now.

To demonstrate some of this unique position and to give you some ideas, we put together the following demonstrations:

  1. Collaboration Mobile Convergence – A joint proposition with Ericsson and featuring Cisco Spark, this shows how you can provide a differentiated and secure user experience to brainstorm, call, meet, message and share. Your business customers do these daily.
  2. Cloud Branch Services – This showcases how to solve business branch networking with virtualization and SD-WAN.  Featuring our Virtual Managed Services portfolio, you see how to improve application performance and ensure security over any connection.
  3. Cloud Managed Services – Featuring our popular Meraki services and access points, this showcases how you can grow wallet share in enterprise, small-medium business and public sector markets through superior mobility solutions that are secure and easy to use.
  4. Ngena -The shared Network – This is a joint showcase with our partner ngena, Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance.  See the power of ngena’s global offering using Cisco technology, and witness the benefits of being part of the alliance.

But that’s not all. The companion zones, Security and IOT, are also very relevant to your business customers.  These zones continued the theme of delivering to what your business customers need and delivering an uncompromised human experience.   Read more about these in blogs by my colleagues, Brian Walsh and Sam Rastogi.

Remember Plato and “The Fifth Element”?

Just like Plato’s concept of the four classical elements combining to make a fifth – life, so we can combine “The Next Element, Mobile” with the other elemental technologies such as protection, automation and on-demand, to make a genuinely positive human experience.

Let’s together put the human back in networking. Let’s make networks adapt to human needs not the other way around!

Not enough time at MWC to spend with us?  Not to worry, for more information, visit us here.    And you can take a look at our Cloud and Network Services or Cisco Spark websites for more information.


Wayne Cullen

Senior Manager, Service Provider Architectures