“Soon technology will be as essential as English”

Aleix Valls was the general director of the Mobile World Capital of Barcelona for the last year and a half. He did a job that seems extremely complex because it means keeping up with the people who have held it for a long time. Valls left the position from mutual agreement. Since July he has embarked on new challenges in the private sector as a digital consultant. We talked to him about how he sees the digital transformation of Catalan companies and the world.

Some people say that the Mobile and the 4YFN have given us a big hit once a year. Is that about right?
The congress is an event in which we all look towards technology and we reflect on where we are going as a society. Above all, wherever digital economic transformation is happening, both economically and socially.
Why did you leave the position of director of the Mobile?
For seven years I devoted myself to this role very intensely. We were able to do wonderful things: the 4YFN and other initiatives, and I was happy to close this chapter and start new professional adventures. It was a mutual agreement to do so. Being a director of the MWC was lovely. Stressful like any ambitious but a rewarding project.
What is left to still be done?
The area of digital talent and the new generations to come are even more fascinated with tech. MSchools was a project in the fourth year of ESO, a very good initiative to begin to introduce a passion for technology, to understand that in the future, whether you are a doctor or lawyer, technology will be as fundamentally important as English is today.
What do you think we will be surprising in the future of mobile technology?
The current population of the world is seven billion people and there are more than ten billion mobile connections worldwide. This means that we are witnessing technology that is the first universal and democratic product. Everyone will have a cell phone. We are looking at a tool that will change the ways of doing business, of relating to each other and the shaping of the economy. In the future we won’t see any dramatic change in the device; we will begin to see more and more integration of technologies, such as augmented or virtual reality in cameras on the same mobile, offering more advanced services but above all, the connectivity of things. The car is one of the devices that already does some of this but there are others things such as home automation. From the fridge or TV, everyday products will be further connected, transforming into more intelligent objects.
They consider you to be one of Catalonia’s technological gurus. Where does your passion come from?
When I did my doctoral thesis, I was programming a lot because I used computers to simulate equations and I began to discover the world of technology and its uses in areas where they were not common. Business is now into digital transformation. We have already seen it in media, advertising or music production. In this way business is becoming more and more digital and we have totally changed the ways of consumption. As well though, there are places where it is not happening so much, such as the banking sector for example or real estate and also in sectors where it seems that how they work with is not digitizable.
In the real estate field, what digital transformation will we see?
I see various changes coming. Buildings will be increasingly intelligent and sustainable. Almost 95% of apartment sales are through web portals. So far, they are only digital listings, without sales capacity, but I’m starting to see emerging companies that are giving them the ability to actually make transactions. When this happens, ordinary sales people disappear, because you are able to give much more service along with much lower margins and this ends up changing the way we buy and sell apartments today.
But this will mean that real estate agents will be out of work.
At the moment building generates data and there will be the possibility to be able to understand, analyze and exploit this and the chance, to offer services with more added value.
Will technology improve our economy?
Yes, it will generate more competitiveness. Another question is if we will be good when it comes distributing it. This will result in fresh challenges and new professionals with new kno·ledge, people who are able to take advantage of more data and run new business models.
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