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An optimistic view of the future — and Mobile World Congress 2024

By Joy King, VP of GTM Strategy,

Optiva • January 31, 2024

Joy leads Optiva’s GTM strategy. She has three decades of software industry experience. Previously, she led Product & GTM Strategy, including Product Management & Marketing, for Vertica, a high-performance unified analytics platform leveraged by the telecom industry. Before Vertica, Joy led telecom industry marketing for HP and HPE for over a decade. Her experience has created a passion for what’s possible, and she’s determined to make it happen.

My first job out of college was with AT&T, in sales, much to my surprise. At that early stage of my life, my only experience with telecommunications was using my touch-tone phone. It was simple to push the seven digits for most of my calls and, occasionally, even the nine digits for long-distance calls. 

Once I pushed those buttons, nothing else was needed from me. The call was routed, the ringing began, and my goal was achieved. Sometimes, I’d get a busy signal, which was useful because I knew the person I was trying to reach was at the other end but talking to someone else. I confess that I miss that now. I can’t help but wonder how many times my calls are just ignored or rejected before they go to voicemail.  

During my time with AT&T, I learned a lot. There was so much complexity “behind the scenes” of telecom that I could never have imagined. Calls had to be routed across multiple carrier networks, locations had to be identified to ensure accurate billing for local and long-distance calls, 800 numbers had to be translated to real numbers, and much more. 

I was amazed at how complicated it was for the operator but how simple it was for me. My years at AT&T created the foundation of my understanding of a simple and intuitive customer experience. 

From Cannes to Barcelona — Mobile World Congress

Later, I joined the computer industry (now called “tech”), but my focus remained on telecommunications. That meant I spent every Valentine’s Day for 13 years at Mobile World Congress, even before that was its name. It was an event that was especially well known for the launch of new devices with exciting new features. 

As an American, I was so jealous of how other countries allowed consumers to buy devices and choose their networks independently. I was thrilled when the U.S. finally got the message and implemented similar legislation. 

During the last decade, exhibitors at Mobile World Congress have continued to tout new devices (sometimes). However, MWC became an event obsessed with network capacity, specifically 4G, 5G, network slicing and dicing, and so much more. After over twenty years in the industry, I still found it difficult to understand. Much of the messaging was depressing, complaining about low revenue expectations, high infrastructure costs, and the need for regulatory protection from hyperscalers.  

Entering a new era of innovation

Now, things are changing. As new market entrants, including embedded connectivity device manufacturers like Humane, MVNOs from industries spanning retail like Movil Exito, utilities like Nova Energy, and unique connectivity providers like REALLY, bring their innovative ideas to consumers and enterprises, the shift in focus is clear. Simplified, intuitive, and personalized customer experience will drive new revenue opportunities. We are entering the Invisible Network Era.  

I have been impressed by the aggressive and future-facing approach that T-Mobile has taken to attract new market entrants. I have heard similar things about Verizon and AT&T (coming soon), which bodes well for the telecom industry. The smartest MNOs have implemented the Open Door Policy. I appreciate the MNOs launching their own digital brands. Still, I worry they will be limited by legacy BSS platforms that were never designed to deliver a personalized digital experience. 

A glass half full (of sangria!) 

I have always believed that history repeats itself; sometimes, I even optimistically believe that we might learn something from it. If my optimism proves accurate, we will see more focus on innovation in Barcelona this year. For me, the most important story will be how a new generation of digital customer experiences built in the Invisible Network Era will be delivered as we walk (miles and miles) across the halls of MWC 2024. This year, I am looking forward to a new MWC. Let’s all hope for the same. 

If this resonates with you, come see me and my energetic Optiva teammates. We’ll be located in Hall 2, 2D20. You’ll see our passion for powering the innovators.


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