MWC Barcelona 2020, defining Industry X

We are living in an age where the lines separating technologies are increasingly blurred and less distinct, as such it becomes increasingly difficult to define applications as one particular type of technology in isolation. Industry X perfectly highlights the convergence of many different technologies with potentially huge and widespread impacts on society, from the way we work, to how we produce and consume a range of goods and services.

Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a subset of Industry X. As Klaus Schwab puts it, “The overarching opportunity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution…is finding ways to give the greatest number of people the ability to positively impact their families, organisations and communities.” Schwab states that there are 12 clusters of technologies that come under this definition. These include A.I., Robotics, biotechnologies, VR & AR and energy . We can also include digital transformation, enterprise ICT & cloud systems, the future of transportation, cities and aerospace in our definition of Industry X.


Businesses can embrace constant technological change and disruption whilst also profiting from it. There is a vital and potentially lucrative role for telecoms operators to play here, as enablers for innovation within the enterprises that they serve. But many operators are themselves undergoing digital transformations and not able to move at the speed of more agile companies. It is crucial that they adapt their business models and mindsets in order to benefit from this new age of innovation and what may well turn out to be the most significant of the industrial revolutions.

As we witnessed in the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries – which increased wealth, extended life and was a powerful force for social change – a totally new economic and philosophical worldview emerged. But governments and politicians were slow to change their ways of thinking and were left significantly behind, taking them decades to catch up with the status quo.

The move to automation certainly brings challenges for businesses and workers. Given the way in which communities were failed during previous industrial changes, (for example, with the decline of the UK’s coal and steel industries) it isn’t surprising that people are worried about job disruption. But the real danger for the economy and for future job growth is not that we have too many robots in the workplace but that we have too few. In 2015 the UK had just 10 robots for every million hours worked, compared with 167 in Japan. By 2017, we represented just 0.6 per cent of industrial robotics shipments. (The New Statesman)

Industry X is so much more than simply a blend of technologies. It is the potential that these technologies represent, affording mankind huge opportunities to change the present and shape the future. We are facing some of the biggest threats to our existence, many of these are environmental and Industry X may offer us the chance to affect real change. We have a responsibility to ensure that no-one is left behind and ensure access to internet and education, online literacy and basic infrastructure are made a reality for half of the world’s population that are still not able to access or use the mobile services available.

What this theme will attempt to answer at MWC Barcelona 2020 is where there are new opportunities – and challenges – for our growing industry, identifying the business models and discussing the role of the operator as well as each stakeholder in the evolving value chain.

The potential of Industry X is Limitless.


  • Projections predict that the human population is likely to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.
  • 5 global challenges that could be solved by the Internet of Things (IoT)
    • 1. Aging population
    • 2. Climate change
    • 3. Rapid urbanisation
    • 4. Depletion of energy resources
    • 5. Food and water shortages
  • Robots to replace up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030
  • However, a 30% rise in robot installations worldwide would create $5 trillion in additional global GDP
  • There are expected to be more than 64B IoT devices worldwide by 2025
  • The global IoT market is forecast to be worth $1.7T in 2019
  • IoT has the potential to generate $4T to $11T in economic value by 2025
  • The main revenue driver for 54% of enterprise IoT projects is cost savings
  • More than 80% of senior executives across industries, on average, say IoT is critical to some or all lines of their business in 2018
  • 97% of organizations feel there are challenges to creating value from IoT-related data

(Sources: United Nations, Telenor, Oxford Economics, Business Insider, IoT Analytics, Gartner, Intel, McKinsey, PwC, Ovum)

Industry X Ecosystem

Industry X affects a large cross-section of companies, as you may expect. It incorporates everything from automation, data exchange, manufacturing technologies, IoT & Industrial IoT, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

  • AI & ML developers and vendors
  • Robotics companies
  • VR, XR & AR companies
  • Enterprise ICT & Cloud Computing providers
  • IoT providers
  • Telecoms Operators
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers
  • Automotive, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Drone, Delivery & Transportation
  • Governments, regulators, policy makers

MWC Agenda: Industry X Sponsored by Citi

Monday, 24th

11:00 – 12:00 Innovate to Grow: How to Embed an Innovation Culture

There is a vital and potentially lucrative role for telecoms operators to play as enablers for innovation within enterprises. A true change in culture involves engaging employees with your innovation strategy, addressing diversity and skills gaps and learning from companies with open cultures. This session examines the cultural drivers for innovation strategies.

16:00 – 16:45 Unlocking the Value of Partner Ecosystems

The multi-trillion-dollar enterprise ICT market presents huge opportunity for operators to diversify beyond a consumer play. These companies aren’t just buying operator’s services; they also seek a trusted provider who can integrate them into an entire ecosystem. Improved collaboration with other valued partners is crucial in unlocking the full potential of Industry X.

Tuesday, 25th

12:15 – 13:15 A How To Guide: Transforming Your Business for Industry X

Businesses must shift their mindsets to be able to move with the rapid rate of change and capitalize on Industry X. This session brings this to life, through practical case studies from the enterprise and telco perspective; How should enterprises look to transform? What are some of the critical investments that must be made?

14:00 – 15:00 Reskilling for Industry X: People-Powered Innovation

Organisations are facing major skills gaps as we enter an era where technologies like IIoT, data analytics, AI and robotics have become central to business. Those with the right skill set are hard to find and companies are competing over a limited talent pool. New approaches are needed – perhaps A.I. has the answer?

15:15 – 16:15 IoT Data Analytics: From Data to Actionable Insights

The number of cellular IoT connections will hit 3.5B in 2023, generating vast amounts of data. GSMAi forecasts $1.1 trillion of IoT revenues for 2025, but organisations feel challenges to realising this opportunity. Operators should expect a spike in demand for data analytics, cloud services and security, presenting a potentially lucrative market.

Wednesday, 26th

11:00 – 12:15 Security for the Industry X Era

Industry X presents inherent security risks. Highly connected and automated sites produce and store staggering amounts of data. IDC estimates that 175 zettabytes of data worldwide by 2025 and a huge amount is real-time IoT data. Organisations risk opening themselves up to cyber-attacks and hacks that threaten ever more connected systems.

12:30 – 13:30 Redefining the relationship between Cloud, Enterprise and the Edge

Industry X has the potential to unlock new revenue and engagement models with customers, employees and partners. This is driving a shift towards edge infrastructure and away from traditional cloud networks by directing certain processes away from centralised data centres to other parts of the network, companies can make savings and exceed customer expectations.

14:30 – 15:30 Digital Supply Chains of the Future

Supply chain and logistics is a key area expected to benefit from Industry X – one estimate states that companies with highly digitised supply chains can expect annual efficiency gains of 4.1%, boosting revenues by 2.6% a year. However, this is an area of increasing complexity and interconnectedness and logistics providers are having to adapt their business models in order to streamline systems, exceed customer experiences whilst enhancing security.

15:45 – 16:45 Innovating for IoT: Thriving in a World Where Devices Outnumber Humans

The human population will reach 8.6 billion in 2030 – the same year that the number of connected devices could reach 1 trillion. This presents opportunities for innovation in a number of areas; from tackling ageing populations to climate change, mass urbanisation the search for clean energy and food and water shortages.

Thursday, 27th

11:15 – 12:15 Industry in Action: Verticals and Demos

Industry X technologies have many potentially exciting applications across a range of industries and verticals. This fast-paced, hands-on demo session will showcase a range of cutting-edge applications of Industry X in action and bring the audience closer to the industries innovating for tomorrow.

12:30 – 13:30 Sky Wars: The 21st Century Aerospace Race

We’re witnessing a new “Internet of Skies” with an increasing number of use cases for cellular drones, including delivery of blood transfusions and remote monitoring of wildfires. This session brings together leaders from the aviation, aerospace, satellite and telecoms industries for a glimpse into the future of our skies.

14:30 – 15:30 Industry X Pitching Battle

Pitch it out in front of our panel of judges for your chance to be crowned winner of the Industry X Pitch Competition. This session features some of the brightest startups using technologies from IoT, AI, Robotics, Mixed Reality and big data to solve real-world problems – vote in real-time for your winner.