Although there is still almost a week to go before Mobile World Congress (MWC 2017) opens in Barcelona, analysts say some of the themes of this year's show are already apparent. The event, which runs from February 27 to March 2, is one of the biggest mobile device events held annually.

Among the major trends expected at this year's conference are an increased focus on Internet of Things (IoT) technology, chatbot apps and digital payment and retail banking technology.

"As both enterprise and consumer IoT technologies and use cases continue to develop, the real promise of deriving value from IoT data will be a key theme at MWC," analysts with digital research and consulting firm Ovum wrote in a white paper previewing the event.

The Rise of IoT

Of all the themes expected at MWC, IoT might be the biggest this year. In particular, IoT devices that leverage Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies are expected to be front and center in Barcelona, with several announcements, demos and deployments. The use of IoT in smart city initiatives is also expected to be a major theme for 2017.

Meanwhile, the question of the value of all the new data expected to be gathered by the rollout of IoT technologies will be another major issue. "MWC will provide the opportunity for many discussions around innovative approaches to data usage, data storage, data ownership, data sharing, data lakes, and open data -- all of which will have a direct impact on the evolution of IoT," Ovum said in the white paper. Ensuring enterprises and applications are collecting enough data of the right type from IoT devices and analyzing them at the right point in the network is another question analysts expect will be discussed this year.

Chatbots and Digital Payments

The rise of chatbots in services will also feature heavily at this year's MWC with at least two conference sessions already scheduled to discuss the issue, along with the role of virtual assistants as well as the use of chat apps in content generation, digital media, commerce and customer engagement.

"We expect to see updates and product announcements from key chat app providers with respect to their initiatives and success in enabling third-party content provision, enterprise messaging, and payments on their platforms," Ovum said.

Retail and digital payments will likely also be a key focus this year, as they have in years past. "Providers from across the ecosystem will deepen their focus on how digital wallet solutions in particular can enhance the consumer purchasing journey, particularly in how to leverage customer preference and behavioral data to create a more personalized end-user experience," Ovum said.

Finally, expect to see enterprise mobility management feature heavily at Barcelona next week, with major vendors showcasing their latest capabilities in helping enterprises manage tablets, smartphones and other devices. "How to manage, secure, and derive business intelligence and value from these assets is becoming an activity of increasing importance to organizations," according to Ovum.