Just like 85,000 of my closest friends, today I’m sitting on a plane out of Barcelona heading back from MWC, taking stock of the past week of massive crowds in a massive conference facility, featuring a massive array of vendors and products.

That’s the best summary of MWC: Massive. Forget Mobile World Congress, call it Massive Wireless Conference.

Mobile World Congress display

That’s a lot of logos, and this is just one of several halls at MWC.

That, and ham sandwiches. I’ve never eaten so many ham sandwiches. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sadly, I never once had paella, for which Barcelona is famous.

So here are the top 10 things I learned amidst all that massiveness and ham:

1. Mobile APM is still in its infancy. Several MAPM vendors sit a stone’s throw away from New Relic’s San Francisco headquarters (thankfully our windows are undamaged). So it’s easy for us to feel like MAPM is old news. Soooo 2013.

But for most of the people who stopped by our booth, MAPM is brand-spanking new. One developer told me that he relied on customer emails, not alerts, to learn about mobile app crashes and troubleshoot them. It took his developers a week to determine root cause of a problem. Needless to say, he and other booth visitors were excited to see New Relic Mobile’s crash reporting with interaction trails that can show which sections of code (“controllers”) ran just prior to a crash. Several attendees felt this would help them reduce troubleshooting times to minutes.

2. Mobile ad networks are everywhere. Given the reach and technical talent of large mobile ad networks from Google, Facebook, and Twitter, I’d have guessed there wouldn’t be much room for other ad networks to compete. And yet, every corner in the exhibition floor seemed to hold a mobile ad network. Clearly, I know nothing about mobile advertising.

3. Privacy matters. Often after a demo of New Relic Mobile, an attendee’s eyes would narrow and they’d ask, “What kind of personal data do you collect?” Which led me to wonder if they had just sat through 50 mobile ad network demos. I was glad to state that New Relic Mobile’s out-of-the-box configuration doesn’t collect personal data, using generic database IDs to identify each user so that data cannot be traced back to an actual person.

4. Flexibility matters. My teammate Jonathan Karon got the impression that other Mobile APM vendors are shying away from connecting their story to analytics or data. They don’t seem to have a real platform for asking questions about the data—they have opted for canned dashboards that address only very basic engagement metrics. People familiar with New Relic Mobile but not New Relic Insights, our analytics product, had eye-popping moments when they discovered how Insights is designed to power exploration and open-ended discovery, with literally millions of chart variants possible thanks to the flexibility of the NRQL language and Insights’ granular data store.

5. Customers matter. During the show, we had numerous customers tell us how much they loved our product. Love is not often an emotion associated with enterprise software, but it’s something we strive for. That’s why our lead designer sits right next to our CEO. I’m also grateful for having Airbnb as a customer. Whenever I had to explain what our product does, I started by asking, “Do you use Airbnb?” Then I could explain the relevance of MAPM to helping find a place to stay on vacation.

6. Heroes matter. I’ve gotten used to bad WiFi at conferences, and expected MWC to be no different. Being data geeks, on opening morning the New Relic crew looked up at the WiFi access points suspended from the ceiling, estimated the number of attendees under each router, and concluded that connectivity would be dismal.

Not so, thanks to a talented group of network engineers who stopped by our booth. Aside from an occasional network reset, everything worked great. These engineers are the unsung heroes of MWC. So Clara, Payman, Roberto, and Carlos: If you’re reading this, you deserve a t-shirt (at least!), so get in touch.

7. Weather and talent are a good combination. Speaking of talented engineers, it was a treat to dine with our Ducksboard team, based in Barcelona. I learned that engineers from across the European Union like to come to Barcelona to work, thanks to the mild weather. (And endless ham sandwiches?) The Ducksboard team are hiring for a number of positions, so if you know of any qualified applicants, please let us know.

8. Nerd culture rocks. After several hours on the trade show floor and our awesome MWC party on Monday night, we all piled into the taxi back to the hotel for some light conversation on using Taylor Series Expansion for more effective JPEG compression. When you’re a data nerd that’s just how you roll.

9. New vocabulary is always a plus. I’m not talking about Spanish. I’m talking about speaking Geek. I’m proud to report on some new words I learned:

bogo: meaning arbitrary or bogus. It can be prepended to other words such as:

bogosort: a random sorting algorithm, distinct from things like QuickSort that tend to make it in a final release. Example: “To hit our deadline, we used a bogosort algorithm in the prototype.”

bogobit: the bandwidth of your home Internet connection. Example: “I pay $100 a month for 30-bogobit-per-second connection speeds.”

bogosip: the amount of wine you’ve drunk when the waiter keeps refilling your glass partway through. Example: “Gracias pero no más; I’ve had 10 bogosips of wine.”

10. The more Gs the better! Fifth generation networks are starting to roll out in some countries, and are reportedly up to 100 times faster than 4G networks. (Measured in bogobits, of course.) Which recalls this lovely commercial that asks the question, “How many Gs are there?”

And there you have it: the ten things I learned at MWC. Now it’s on to prepping for our next big conference, Velocity in Santa Clara, California, in late May. If you’re there, swing on by and say “hello!”


Park Güell image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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