I’ve had a moment to catch up on sleep and reflect on MWC21. And I’ve put together my thoughts on how we totally owned the event. Any way you look at it, we crushed it. Booth execution. Branding. Marketing. Media mentions. Articles. Booth footfall. The keynote. Demos.

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And most importantly, and the entire reason you do the show in the first place: the sales pipeline. We even ruffled the feathers of big name competitors, which besides being totally fun, validated Totogi as a worthy competitor mere days after launch.

CLOUD CITY set the bar in every dimension, showing the old guard that you can’t just show up with the same old lame booth design, a boring keynote, or a marketing message that says nothing but “5G” or “I do that, too!” But I gotta give credit where credit is due. I never could have done any of this without Ericsson bailing in the first place. We will never know the real reason why. Maybe it was COVID safety. Or maybe the team had nothing new to talk about. Maybe they wanted to save money. Or maybe they thought no one was going to come.


In any case, I’m super happy they backed out. I fully realize I never would have been able to have the HUGE impact I did if they showed up. Other big vendors probably wouldn’t have bailed either, if Ericsson hadn’t bailed first. So from the deepest part of my heart and with absolute sincerity I gotta say:  THANK YOU, ERICSSON!

Let’s talk about the event itself. GSMA announced last week that MWC had more than 20,000 attendees in person, and more than 100,000 virtually. People like to talk about attendance, but the fact is that it’s not about how MANY go, it’s about WHO goes. MWC has always been an exec conference. In typical years, CxOs go with their delegations – groups numbering in the hundreds – and it is very difficult as a vendor to suss out and get time with those high-level VIPs. But everyone who cried, “No one’s going!” failed to realize the side effect of lower attendance: the vendors that went would have better access to the CxOs in attendance. And the CxOs came.

With fewer attendees to sort through, CLOUD CITY had open access to BIG, BIG names. Senior execs came to our booth and had a VIP experience. Some came back two or three times, each time bringing more and more of their exec team. Usually at MWC, you have your 15-30 minutes with them and then they’re off because their diaries are full. Not this year. This side effect was priceless and I’m so happy we could capitalize on it.

In terms of general footfall, we had a huge number through the booth – about 7,500 unique attendees. Our booth was constantly buzzing and full of people. People hanging out, going through the immersive experience multiple times, looking at demos, and having meetings. We had the best demos, and so we had all the people there. It felt like a normal MWC in the booth at all times.

As I looked out into the booth to see what was going on, a few times I’d chuckle at all the ROBOTS that were in use.

I was worried that we had over-ordered robots, and maybe it was a waste. Boy, was I wrong. We had about 1,000 robot visits, from extended team members who couldn’t make the trip, prospects who wanted to see demos, even competitors trying to jump on the bots – they were a smashing success. At one point, I was dashing to a meeting and saw two robots talking to each other. I saw robots in the immersive room. I saw robots cruising around and enjoying themselves. It was super cool. I think hybrid events are here to stay, so exhibitors need to create new ways for virtual audiences to attend as well, and robots were a great addition to the booth. Which brings me to…

The TV show. We partnered with three different organizations to put together an anchor desk with interviews, a keynote presentation area that handled  both remote and in-person presentations, and a reporter on the street doing bits in the booth. We had close to 1,000 visitors on our CLOUD CITY LIVE platform logging in to watch events live (it was playing throughout the booth at all times) or watching on demand. There’s a lot of awesome content to catch up on, but if you want some recommendations, I’d say watch the interviews with Google Cloud’s Amol PhadkePeter Adderton, Mobile X and Nicholas Gerard, OXIOMicrosoft Azure’s Pete BernardJohn Savill, also of Microsoft; and a fireside chat with myself and Robin Langdon about Totogi. Overall, we had close to 60 speakers and interviews, and it was a really cool (new) way to engage people and further develop our lead generation. This ended up being a great idea that we will probably do again.

And now more about the sales funnel. This is the real reason you go. MWC is how you fill your sales funnel for the year as a telco vendor. I know when it was canceled in 2020, I was devastated and worried about what I was going to do. From the get-go, it was do or die on MWC21, and I’m so glad it happened, and even happier we went big. Again, with the big names gone, I got access to all the people I wanted. I can’t speak for all of CLOUD CITY, but for Totogi, we got more than 500 leads and filled our funnel with more than $150m of opportunity in four days. One of the CLOUD CITY vendor CEOs I talked to told me they were able to do in three days what would normally take three years of sales development. And I know some vendors closed deals; one CLOUD CITY vendor closed a $80m deal at the show! WOW.

And finally, let’s talk about the topic of public cloud. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! DISH and AT&T both announced they were going all-in on the public cloud right before MWC.

Old school Ericsson had to get in on the action, too, and signed strategic partnerships with AWS and Google. Even my buddies, the podcast guys Scott and Iain, who are about as anti-PC as it gets (I know they mean well!), pretty much had to admit I’m right about the public cloud coming to telco.

A lot of people over the past week or so have asked me… was it worth it? UM, YEAH, it was totally worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat without hesitation. My only lament is that we will probably never get this perfect storm of an opportunity ever again. A pandemic ending. Vaccines working. The old guard bailing. The chance to take over a great iconic space. Just enough time to plan an amazing booth and TV show. Robots that worked. A keynote that rocked. And all the important people coming, with fewer people to sift through. All the meetings we wanted. A sales funnel when no one else has one because they didn’t go to the show. And oh yeah, being TOTALLY RIGHT about the public cloud doesn’t hurt either.

MWC22 will be back to normal, and I doubt anyone will ever bail again after what we just pulled off. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we doubled down on it. I’m sure all the dinosaur vendors are spitting mad that they missed out. Ball’s now in their court to show what they can do. The bar has been raised, and the game is afoot. I look forward to seeing what they will do come February 2022.

I can’t wait to see everyone there.

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