|Issue:||Europe II 2012|
|Topic:||From video-communication to machine-to-machine – life on the move|
Stefano Pileri is Chief Executive Officer of Italtel. Stefano Pileri was born in Rome in 1955. He graduated in Rome in Electronic Engineering in 1980 and he got the Master in Applied Electromagnetism in 1981. He has been in SIP (Italian Telecom Operator) since 1982 where he assumed increasing responsibilities during the years, in the Network Management Systems Department. In 1993/94 he was responsible for the Network Development and Operations in the Emilia-Romagna region, and in 1997 he became Responsible for Network Planning, Engineering and Marketing in the Network Division of Telecom Italia. In March 1998 he became Responsible of the Telecom Italia Wireline Network and in June 2005 he was also appointed CTO of Telecom Italia Group, directly reporting to the President, with the responsibility to drive and coordinate the fixed-mobile integration and the overall technological network development. He joined Italtel as CEO in September 2010.
Being connected at any time is now essential, while travelling is taking increasingly more of our time. Communication applications bring great improvement to productivity and convenience during travelling, or even help to avoid travel altogether. For example, conferencing telepresence enables remote meetings, eliminating travel dead time. Desktop sharing provides another way of collaborating remotely. A great help for the traveller is the ability to access data safely from anywhere, with Cloud services. Machine-To-Machine technologies bring new advancements in the automotive industry, finding a car parking space, alerting to road conditions and more. Communications is at the heart of the enhancements to the life of the traveller.
From video-communication to machine-to-machine – communication technology is changing the way we travel providing new real-time, easy-to-access services based on mobility and collaboration.
The world is going mobile: people are always connected, regardless of whether they are travelling or working at the office or at home. It is not only a way to keep in touch. Being connected at any time is becoming an essential collaborative requirement, enabling a mobile workforce to act autonomously but on behalf of the corporation 24/7. The massive spread of mobile phones allows our professional and private lives to travel with us.
According to recent Nielsen Group research, 77 per cent of frequent business travellers and 67 per cent of travellers overall bring their internet-enabled mobile devices with them. This is driving 73 per cent of airports to invest in mobile-based services and 56 per cent of airlines to anticipate an increase in IT spending.
Mobile technology drives towards a paradigm shift in business travel interactions. A mobile-enabled workforce requires instant access to ever more information as well as greater ability for self-service and personalized communication. As a consequence, the demand for new, more efficient mobile services is steadily growing. Nowadays, video and social media are considered as key collaboration tools for business trips and are changing the way we communicate and interact.
It is not surprising that 2010 registered a balance between the use of virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings. Even the Travel Industry has started considering video applications as a complementary alternative for business travellers rather than a threat to cope with. Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) represents a perfect case in point. CWT is a leading corporation in the business travel management sector which decided to launch an enhanced video service offer designed to help clients seamlessly integrate Telepresence into their managed travel program. CWT clients can take part in videoconferences around the world accessing the Service Provider public network. In an economic environment that requires companies to look for ways to reduce costs, clients now have an additional solution for effectively managing their travel and meeting expenditures while realizing their business objectives.
It has to be taken into account that the majority of business travellers are executives who tend to have high travel costs but very little time to dedicate to corporate meetings. Video services, such as video-conferences, are the perfect tool to turn travel downtime into an opportunity to dramatically increase productivity, allowing executives to participate in far more meetings. Collaboration with colleagues who are thousands of miles apart, located in dozens of different countries around the world allows one to take faster, better decisions, and unifies team members. In addition, to reduce travel costs, video services help business travellers to take part in scheduled events even in case of any unpredictable occurrence, such as the recent volcanic ash cloud, or heavy traffic jams.
Service Providers play a key role in making communications in travel around the world easier and more efficient, taking advantage of real-time services. In particular, they can add value to video conferencing delivery due to knowledge and experience of the following:
• Enabling video conferencing interoperability by allowing different video conferencing technologies – including Over the Top and Internet Providers’ services – to interoperate providing the best user experience;
• Ensuring the requested Quality of Service is delivered via marking and prioritizing video conferencing traffic;
• Managing multiple SLAs among different networks and negotiating codec capability among the different video endpoints.
In order to address the new challenges, at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, some of the most important European service providers and Telco device manufacturers, Italtel included, announced an open industry initiative to define standards and reference architectures for HD video communications over open service infrastructures. The interoperability among different platforms which belong to independent domains, allows operators to introduce new HD video services and serve numerous potential users who nowadays take advantage of the mass penetrationof the latest, smartest,lower costsmartphones.
Cloud-based Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) are two further concrete examples of how a business traveller can take advantage of the Service Provider’s infrastructure to dramatically increase the collaboration experience. With the convenience of the Cloud, business travellers can access data across any platform or device in real-time. Moreover, work done online is saved on the Cloud and quickly synchronised with desktop machines back in the office. Most cloud-based applications are much faster and less expensive to scale, and hence follow a freemium model of free basic limited app with more features on subscription basis. This helps the applications to increase their subscriber base much faster too.
The potential productivity and financial benefits for the business traveller of using Cloud-based services in combination with mobile devices are substantial. The combination of increasingly powerful mobile devices and the availability of software solutions via the Cloud will completely change the way business travellers think about and experience travel technology. Gartner estimates that up to 35 per cent of the implementation costs associated with on-premises application development is for integration. In comparison, Cloud Computing makes it easier to integrate and extend legacy environments as well as connecting to other Cloud services – making the process much faster and more scalable.
One of the greatest business traveller’s nightmare, the loss or theft of a laptop full of data that has not been recently backed up, is no longer an issue. Thanks to the Cloud, data is safe and automatically backed up for quick access from anywhere. The apparent downside risks to data security through having data stored on the cloud, and most notably the constant need to access the internet, do not seem to be hampering the growth of the cloud.
Another effective collaboration tool available is the desktop sharing. Desktop sharing software is an application through which one can share computer screen content live over the Web with others. It might sound trivial, yet it is a powerful tool, applicable in various business occasions such as online meetings, web conferencing, web presentations, online training and remote support. In a time of globalization, businesses and services take place anytime and anywhere. Desktop sharing solutions improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-office collaboration, online product demonstrations, employee trainings and customer services at little or no cost. With it, small businesses can save a substantial amount of time and money and achieve greater success.
The Travel Industry and Communications Providers can find common groundto establish profitable collaboration thanks to the explosion and wide adoption of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications.In the M2M field — also referred to as “The Internet of Things” — embedded elements such as sensors, actuators and communications devices become an integral part of information systems that enable operational and business processes to automatically adapt and react to changes in their environment. These so-called “smart” assets can make these processes more efficient and responsive, give products new capabilities, and most certainly will engender new business models.Communication is at the heartof all M2M solutions, while the success factor is represented by the ability of the Communication Service Provider to act as enabler of a single value chain, facilitating the interaction among the different and various partners of the ecosystem.
The Travel Industry can benefit and play a role in the M2M business, by providing a number of cases where M2M communications can simplify operations and reduce costs or deliver a better, more contextualized and personalized service. Thanks to a pervasive and dense network of sensors and short range communications technologies, such as Radio Frequency IDentification(RFID),Near Field Communications (NFC), railway and aeroplane passengers can be directedto the right train platform or check-in desk and the boarding gate afterwards. In a similar way, check-in operations and ticket verification procedures could be automated, reducing costs and efforts on the businessside, and wasted time and frustration on the passenger side.
Besides travel-driven opportunities, M2M finds a natural field of application in the Automotive sector, where some progress has already been achieved with the integration of sensors, for vehicle check-up and monitoring, and with the availability of integrated satellite global navigation systems (GPS), even in low end cars. The next generation of cars will integrate a M2M device that will enable and simplify the following cases:
• Fleet management, with identified, tracked and monitored cars. For instance, car rentals could benefit from this application, implementing an effective tracking and assistance service, in case of damage;
• Safety and emergency, with M2M enabled cars able to make emergency calls as soon as the emergency or accident has occurred;
• Alerting and avoidingtraffic jam / bad weather condition, thanks to a network of sensors, located along the transportation infrastructure and vehicles.Risky and unsafe situations, such as unexpected traffic jams or snowy and icy roads could be identified in advance. The driver could be promptly advised with a set of alternatives, to get him out of the unsafe situation;
• Assisted Park Search, using sensors placed in public and private car parking, travellers looking for a car park are directed to the closest available car parking space, improving traveller’s quality of life and overall environment.
As for the Video Communications solution, besides acting as value chain enablers and facilitators, Service Providers could bring value to the M2M ecosystem, providing not only their solid expertise in end-to-end solutions management, but also their competences and technology for end-to-end quality assurance.