In both developed and developing economies, there is now a “mobile first” – and in some cases “mobile only” – trend. We increasingly live in a world with indigenous digital natives, many of whom do not interact with the web in any other way than mobile. This is driving profound changes in approach from all parts of the eco-system from content providers, infrastructure providers, handset manufacturers and everyone in between. Indeed, the lines are increasingly blurred between these players – every single infrastructure provider I saw present at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year was selling themselves as a mobile solutions provider, often through deep and varied collaborations with others in the mobile eco-system. Vodafone’s drone collaboration projects for precision farming, smart inspections and co-ordinated search and rescue were particularly impressive.

Mobile and faster networks are also driving the trend towards consumption of video content – another key congress theme, and also mentioned in my previous blog following MWC. This was picked up in a range of conference sessions including Disruption in Digital Finance (upon which I will focus in a future blog), which emphasised “conversational commerce” as the key to keeping customers “sticky”, and on Connected Cars, which described fully autonomous vehicles as the next big content delivery systems.

All of this will demand security and privacy by design. With the upcoming changes in data protection and cyber-security laws, this is a topic we are now talking to board level clients about almost every day. The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Network Information Security Directive aim to have a profound effect on the culture of design (though much of the focus is on the possibility of huge fines!). Both are coming in before Brexit, and contrary to the mis-placed beliefs of some, will endure afterwards assuming we wish to continue to do business with the enormous EU market.

So what does this all mean for Scotland and Scottish businesses?

Scotland has a rich history of design stretching back many centuries. The modern manifestation is a large number of digital creatives, design agencies and mobile/web app development businesses of which any nation – however large or small – would be extremely proud.

If these businesses are to continue to thrive, they must ensure they are keeping up with the trends in digital design highlighted at MWC. They must give due prominence to security and privacy at the earliest stages of their projects, and appropriately realise the value in, and protect their associated intellectual property rights (for the benefit of themselves and their clients).