MWC 2021 – a different scale
From June 28 to July 1, Bamboo Group took part in the biggest trade show of the IT industry, Mobile World Congress 2021. The event attracts around 100K guests on a yearly basis, with exhibitors and attendees coming from over 100 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Owing to Covid-19, this year’s physical attendance count was a lot more modest: the number of physical visitors was estimated to be 20K, with the number of online attendees rising above 100K. The physical scale of the event was reduced accordingly: the standard eight exhibition halls within Fira Gran Via became three.
Nevertheless, many big name brands, such as Huawei, ZTE, Orange, and others, chose to take advantage of the event’s partially offline format. For them, the return of the long-awaited opportunity for live communication was too good to pass up.
On the other hand, some chose to tap into the online part of this year’s MWC. For one, Samsung, the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer, held their device launch in a completely virtual format.
Ensuring visitors’ security
The number of people present wasn’t the only major change to this year’s MWC. As one could already infer, the whole event was held in a hybrid format, that is, featuring both physical and online keynote sessions, panel discussions, and workshops. Secondly, strict rules were implemented to keep the physical visitors and exhibitors as safe as possible.
The physical badges that normally serve as passes to the Congress were replaced with their digital counterparts. To enter the exhibition, attendees would have to show a QR code from the MWC mobile app. And it wasn’t as simple as any old pass card – a digital badge also stored information about the validity of a negative PCR or antigen Covid-19 test.
To minimize the inconveniences caused by the new restrictions, the organizers set up an onsite testing center where attendees could check for the virus whenever they wanted. In 20 minutes, they’d get their results and have the receipts uploaded to the MWC application. You could enter the Congress only if the test result was negative and no older than 3 days by the time you scanned the QR code. The new regulations also had attendees wear FFP2 standard face masks, with a support committee to oversee everyone’s compliance.
Speaking of QR codes, those were especially popular this year – largely due to the fact that all printed materials and merchandise were prohibited. So, brochures and fliers were replaced with links to exhibitors’ websites or presentations – same went for business cards.
“Despite the strict participation rules, mask regulations, and social distancing, all participants were eager to make acquaintances, talk about their business, projects, and plans,” says Natalia Minayeva, the Strategic Partnerships Executive of Bamboo Agile.
It was very clear that the MWC organizers put an immense amount of effort into ensuring the safety of all their guests. As Natalia remarks, “The level of organization at the event was phenomenal!”
MWC 2021 Exhibition
This year’s biggest exhibitor was no doubt Huawei, whose stand was situated not far from ours, in Hall 1. Accenture’s booth definitely left an impression with its large-screen video stories showcasing the importance of vision and value in a changing world. Of the featured exhibitors, Orange, T-Mobile, Telefonica, and ZTE (which was the only brand to introduce new hardware at this year’s Congress) also boasted impressive stands.
“The Cloud City stand was especially memorable. They really stood out this year thanks to their original visual design and flashy performances from star entertainers,” recalls Natalia. “The most active zone was the second hall and 4YFN, which hosted many startups in various stages of development. This part of the exposition, as well as the speaker location, were bustling the whole event, attracting both guests and exhibitors in equal numbers.”
Every MWC also hosts an array of national stands. Aside from the Estonian National Stand where Bamboo Group exhibited, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Korea, Japan, and other countries showcased their local startups and mature tech companies as well.
The Estonian National Stand hosted a total of 12 companies: Fleet Complete, Cybernetica, 1oT, Omnicomm, Axinom, Nexd, Mobi Lab, Singleton, Mindtitan, Dexatel, SK ID Solutions, and, of course, Bamboo Group. The expertise present across the exhibitors was diverse to say the least: Dexatel are well known as the creators of an omnichannel platform for bulk SMS mailing campaigns, MindTitan have made a name for themselves with advanced AI chatbots, and FleetComplete are renowned for their GPS tracking solutions, to name a few.
Bamboo Group at MWC 2021
Bamboo Group has been an active participant of MWC for many consecutive years (with the obvious exception of the cancelled MWC 2020). But this time around, our approach to the event was quite different.
Our previous showings at the Estonian National Stand were characterized by a strong emphasis on our products: SchoolOS was at the forefront during the 2017 and 2018 events, while BeED took the spotlight in 2019. This year, we decided to draw attention to our services – or, to be more precise, showed off the expertise of Bamboo Apps and Bamboo Agile as bespoke software developers.
Our team talked about our current and former custom development projects in the always trendy Telecom, FinTech, Automotive and Mobility industry, and EdTech.
Bamboo Group held a presentation hosted by Sergey Zubovich, our Bamboo Agile CTO. It played at our stand throughout the whole event, and was a case study on Enterprise-grade App Modernization, a story of how our team built a new microservices architecture for an HRM solution and overcame the challenges that startups similar to our client often face.
First, we elaborated on the details signalling that the initial monolithic architecture had to change: poor system resilience, high cost of updates, slow time-to-market for new features, and unbalanced scaling. Then, our presentation delved into the multi-step process of app modernization, with key points on:
- implementing the Infrastructure As Code approach;
- adopting Kubernetes on AWS;
- employing the microservices orchestrator ZeeBe;
- switching from a REST API to GraphQL;
- database sharding;
- introducing new frameworks (Nest.js);
- accelerating the CI/CD pipeline.
It also didn’t present microservices as the only and ultimate solution for the problem at hand. Sergey discussed other modernization strategies, such as code refactoring, updating application modules, UX/UI improvements with usability tests, software re-platforming, cloud migration, etc.
The case study was especially valuable for SMEs seeking to scale their platforms and products. While not outright condemning the use of a monolithic architecture, the study did demonstrate the shortcomings of the monolith approach – and, most importantly, how to solve them in a swift, cost-efficient way.
Our presentation also featured a case study on re-platforming the MediaGun player from a desktop (Windows) to a cross-platform application. The main challenge for our team lied in finding a cross-platform solution that seamlessly supported Office files, among dozens of other file extensions. Hence, we decided to begin with a research phase, the goal of which was to produce a proof of concept prototype. Once our idea was confirmed successful, we switched from the research phase to the development phase.
The main takeaway from this case study was the importance of the discovery phase in any re-platforming process – an indispensable lesson for anyone willing to partake in software modernization.
We were very serious about taking part in MWC after the lockdown. So, we came as a large management staff with the intent to restore our industry connections. The team engaged in lots of networking, meeting and sharing our ideas with many potential business partners.
Here, Bamboo Apps was in notably high demand. The visitors of the Estonian pavilion were particularly keen on the company’s expertise in the automotive and mobility industry, as well as in their knowledge of HMI interfaces design.
“On one hand, there were far fewer people compared to the previous events; on the other hand, we had the opportunity to hold business meetings in a more favourable and calm atmosphere. There was no rush, no stress – just quality communication with industry professionals,” says Natalia Minayeva.
Despite the difficult conditions the staff of MWC had to face in 2021, the measures taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved were of the highest standard. Bamboo Group hopes that the scale of the Congress will stay as grand as it was before the coronavirus pandemic, and is excited to see what the future events have in store.
“Bamboo Group has been taking part in MWC for many years, and we’re already making plans for MWC2022. We’re looking forward to seeing all of our friends, colleagues, and business partners once again,” concludes Vladislav Herchykau, the CEO of Bamboo Group.