Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
February, 9th 2009

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We asked Gary Gohen, who leads IBM's Communications Sector, for some perspective on the opportunity for building a smarter telecommunications system. Below are some of this thoughts:

Smarter telco - 250
In working with IBM’s clients in the telecommunications industry, I hear directly from business leaders around the world about the ways their companies can play a role in building a smarter planet by helping to change the way our global communications infrastructure works.  And in almost all of these discussions, we talk about the need to improve dramatically the economics of service delivery across all aspects of their businesses, and about new and emerging business models for communications service providers.

These companies are seeing first-hand how billions of people and intelligent devices are driving an incredible increase in global communication.  Today, mobile Web subscriptions are at four billion, and counting.  By 2011, almost a third of all humanity will be on the Internet.  New investments in broadband infrastructures worldwide will likely accelerate this growth, extending the Internet into new markets, and broadening its reach inside existing markets, as more people within established economies gain affordable access to broadband Internet.

All of this growth in demand represents a huge opportunity for telecommunications companies, but to take advantage of it and stay ahead in the ferociously competitive marketplace, they know they need to develop new capabilities.  Today's networks will have to become smarter, so they can have the kind of intelligence and analytical capability needed to make sense of the flood of data coming from billions (and eventually, trillions) of connected people and sensors and devices.  They will need more flexible, open architectures, so new services can be created and deployed to meet the rapidly changing needs of people who want individually customized services.  The kind of evolved, converged information technology system you have to have to support these kinds of  capabilities is something IBM calls the dynamic infrastructure.

The transformation is already underway:  For example, telecom service providers in India are facing both explosive growth and intense competition.  To gain a competitive advantage, some are reinventing their IT to provide deeper connections between business units, the data they generate, and the processes they need to run efficiently.  One of India's largest telecom service providers used this model to cut the time required to activate new mobile accounts by 90 percent.  When you sign about a million new customers per month, that type of agility is a serious advantage.

In China, a leading telecom company is using social networking technology to bring together the ideas and expertise of company researchers to create new services at a record pace.  While in Europe, a provider of both fixed telephony and Internet services is working with us to completely redesign and integrate its business processes to give it the speed and flexibility it needs to meet subscriber demand and capitalize on skyrocketing growth in its home market.

In Indonesia, we're working with a leading telecom service provider on a network management systems that infuses software into its physical communications network to automatically detect and resolve service problems.  The system can go further to predict trends in the way its network is used — and adjust accordingly to provide the best possible service to customers.

Successful business models in the global telecommunications industry are increasingly based on this "smarter" approach that leverages instrumented, connected, intelligent systems.  With governments and companies worldwide investing in expanding broadband access, and with more people and "intelligent" things coming online by the minute, this is a great time to think about ways to build a smarter telecommunications infrastructure together.

Gary Cohen is the General Manager of IBM's communications sector.

*** Update: Given the topic above, we wanted to share this related video about the preponderance of connected objects and the potential impact for a smarter planet:

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