Israel’s mobile industry helps the world understand Israel better

The Mobile World Congress is an opportunity for Israeli companies to tell their stories — and the country’s stories, say industry experts

Artist's rendition of the Israeli booth at the Mobile World Congress (Courtesy)
Artist's rendition of the Israeli booth at the Mobile World Congress (Courtesy)

The Mobile World Congress — the “Superbowl” event of the mobile industry, taking place Monday through Thursday in Barcelona — is a great way for companies around the world, as well as in Israel, to show off their technology.

But in recent years, it has emerged as something more — as an opportunity for Israelis to talk about themselves and their country in a positive way.

Pre-Barcelona events, such as Tzav 8 Barcelona (the name refers to an emergency defense call-up by the Israel Defense Forces) provide background and training for Israeli entrepreneurs headed to the event to present Israel as more than just a place where war and politics happen. “It’s not about painting a false picture of the country, said Yael Shany, organizer of the program now in its eighth year. Tzav 8’s brand of hasbara has more to do with Israel’s image as a tech power, and how the talents and skills used by entrepreneurs to build international business empires are also used to improve society, both in Israel and around the world.

“Given Israel’s importance in the mobile industry, and the large number of Israelis who attend MWC, Tzav 8 is a great opportunity to show the side of Israel that few abroad are aware of, such as the positive contributions of the high-tech community to bringing Israeli Arabs into Israel’s tech ecosystem, or the ways technology is being used to help save lives in emergency situations,” said Shany at the latest edition of the Tzav 8 event last Thursday in Tel Aviv.

“Israeli business people going to Barcelona are Israel’s best diplomats, because they can talk about the country’s positive tech contributions, the ones that people don’t hear about abroad,” she added.

And one Israeli firm that is attending MWC — AppsFlyer, a world leader in the mobile attribution analytics business — is doing Tzav 8 one better. “We have 10 offices around the world, so we decided to institute an employee exchange program, where we send employees from Israel to work in one of our offices worldwide,” said Ran Avrahamy, AppsFlyer VP of marketing. “In addition, we bring every employee from abroad to Israel for a week, to introduce them not only to what goes on at headquarters in Herzliya, but also to show them what Israel is all about. I can tell you that everyone we have brought over wants very badly to come back.”

Out of the 2,000 or so companies presenting at this year’s MWC, over 200 are either based in Israel, or do the majority of their R&D work here. This makes Israel eligible for the title “Global Leader in Mobile Telecommunications,” according to the Israel Export Institute, which by itself is bringing 65 mobile start-ups to MWC.

The AppsFlyer booth at Mobile World Congress 2016 (Courtesy)
The AppsFlyer booth at the Mobile World Congress 2016 (Courtesy)

Other companies (38) are traveling as part of a delegation with industry umbrella group Israel Mobile Association, while still others, including dozens of the larger mobile tech firms, such as Tadiran, Celeno, Audiocodes, Comigo, and many more, will have their own booths at the vast multi-acre event that draws as many as 100,000 people.

Among those “independent” Israeli firms is AppsFlyer, which provides analytics services to mobile advertisers, ad buyers, and ad networks to help them determine the most effective way to bring in new users. Just as Israel is a leader in the overall mobile industry, said Avrahamy, AppsFlyer is a leader in mobile attribution analytics technology.

“It’s one of the fastest growing segments in the mobile industry,” explained Avrahamy. “Everyone is vying for users today, and it’s not as easy to acquire them as it used to be. Advertisers, ad sellers, and ad networks all need to be on top of their game and ensure that they are spending their dollars wisely. Our analytics show them whether or not what they are doing is effective, and points them towards ways of doing it better.”

Ron Avrahamy (Courtesy)
Ron Avrahamy (Courtesy)

An international company, AppsFlyer, with its worldwide offices (the two newest, in Berlin and London, were opened just last Friday), the company “has 90% of the market in this segment in China,” said Avrahamy. With just three other direct competitors (two in the US and one in Germany), AppsFlyer has plenty of business opportunities, and its customers — including some of the world’s largest online and bricks-and-mortar retailers in the US, Europe, and Asia (including China) — sing the firm’s praises, according to the testimonials on the AppsFlyer website.

Of course, the main purpose of the Global Employee Exchange Program is to enhance the work environment by getting everyone to understand the needs and challenges of the company. However, there’s another important aspect to these trips that AppsFlyer takes very seriously, said Avrahamy. “It’s not only a great way for workers to see how the business operates, but also a way to introduce workers from places like Bangkok, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Bangalore, and of course the US and Europe, to what Israel is really like.”

For the foreign employees who visit Israel, that means getting to know not only the company, but Israel and its people. “I’m a big fan of Tzav 8,” said Avrahamy, adding that the AppsFlyer program, while a strategy to grow the business, is also a way to show off Israel’s positive side. “We take our people around the country and even spend a Shabbat with them so they can see what makes us tick. They come away with a better point of view about not only our business, but about our country — and that’s good all around.”

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