Watch out for the #dominoeffect appearing in your Twitter feeds as the mobile industry's CMOs take stock of Ericsson's decision to withdraw from this year's Mobile World Congress and decide whether to follow suit.
Unfortunately for the GSMA, the industry body that organizes and runs what is the year's most important annual industry event, the likelihood is that multiple other companies will also decide to skip this year's Barcelona gathering.
That's because the industry's CMOs are all talking to each other, asking what the others think -- wondering whether going is too risky for their teams and what the fallout would be if they didn't go, from a business and PR perspective.
Ericsson's decision, which, given where the industry is in terms of 5G land grab, is bold (but totally understandable and laudable), will influence many decisions, I believe.
I expect many other companies will now decide not to attend: Now that Ericsson has stated that the "health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority," which company is going to risk looking like they don't share that view? If a company continues to say "We are still going to MWC," what does that say about it as an employer?
That is a major dilemma and a horrible one for companies to now face. Add to that, though, that there are already rumblings that many mobile operator teams from the Americas have decided not to travel and that starts to make MWC look less appealing simply from a business development perspective, which is basically what the show is about.
For many companies too, this is a major business concern in terms of its costs. Every company weighs up the return on investment (ROI) case for MWC and for many companies it eats up a significant chunk of their annual marketing budget. If they decide to pull out, will they get anything back from their insurers? Or is it money they will never see again?
Might the GSMA (a not-for-profit organization) transfer this year's MWC bookings to next year and take the hit on behalf of the industry?
It's a major dilemma for the GSMA and every company involved with this event. The show will survive, as will the industry. Let's hope the financial impact of any cancellations or loss of business doesn't adversely impact any company too badly.
The GSMA says it regrets Ericsson's decision not to attend but says it's "of great importance to the GSMA to continue to convene the industry at this critical time where connectivity is on the cusp of a new industrial revolution." The show goes on.
Whatever happens, the main thing, important above all else, is that this industry (and everyone else, of course!) stays healthy. That's the number one consideration. Ericsson has made the right decision: Nothing is more important than people's health, especially not a business meeting.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading