Monday, 17 July 2017

TFInstitute Summer Conference on 'Converged User Experience'

Converged User Experience

How to deliver the connectivity and performance required?


The Tommy Flowers Institute Summer Conference took place 13 – 14 June 2017.
110 people attended over the two days, with students and academics from across 25 universities and senior reps from some of the world’s biggest ICT companies and Innovation Martlesham members including: Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Cisco and Nokia; Shareband; Cambridge Wireless; Spotless; EPSRC, Innovate UK and Suffolk County Council – who took part in various panel sessions. The event went exceptionally well with excellent feedback from both students and industry.

Mansoor Hanif, Research & Innovation’s Research Director of Converged
Networks opened the conference and presented an informative discussion
looking at “Convergence - Approaching the Singularity”. He described customer drivers and customer expectations; how corporates want converged solutions and look at converging platforms, in particular the customer benefits and the technology that is required.

Mansoor said, “A big part of a truly seamless experience is not having to worry about what network is being used at any point in time. The network and the device should, in conjunction, select the network that can best meet the needs of the services the user is trying to access at any point in time.”


Following panel sessions over the two days with industry, it became clear of the similarities in their ambitions for user convergence.

Key points:
  • Integration of data from a variety of business systems to create a single holistic digital record
  • Ensuring a trusted and safe cyber environment
  • Delivering intelligent technology and systems
  • Enhancing user experience to remain relevant to end users’ needs
  • Collaboration with Industry; Academia and Networks to solve real world problems
An interesting breakout session was set by Research & Innovation’s Mary Lumkin, to look at “What does convergence mean to users?” lively discussions ensued around how convergence could benefit those involved in health and social care (patients, GPs, carers, hospitals and local authorities) and was followed up by ideas of how participants’ research could address some of the challenges identified. Mary said “there are many different organisations that contribute to person centric care, each of whom have different requirements and challenges. Sharing data appropriately, securely and with consent has the potential to achieve positive patient outcomes in a cost efficient way. It is exciting to consider how technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can help to achieve this”.

BT’s Technology, Service and Operation’s MD of Networks - Karl Penaluna – presented a fascinating case study looking at enriching the customer experience through the power of programmability.

Karl discussed how different approaches are needed to succeed and to fully achieve BT’s vision - of providing customers with a real time view in a single pane of glass. He outlined that different ways of working, new skills and a changed industry landscape are required.

“New technologies, coupled with new ways of working allow us to enhance and transform the customer experience”, said Karl. “Converging IT and Network infrastructure and moving from static to programmable networks unlocks services that are truly “on-demand” and by opening up this infrastructure, places customers in control, speeds up deployment and provides consistency of experience. In creating a new Dynamic Infrastructure unit, we have taken a bold step towards this and the first services are being delivered to customer now.”

A trip round Innovation 2017 provided Tommy Flowers Institute members the amazing opportunity to engage with BT and associated companies and explore the technologies and opportunities of the future. Many commented, “I never knew BT did so much innovation”.

BT Research & Innovation’s Head of University Partnerships, Fraser Burton said, “Our ability to convene academia, industry and government to openly discuss shared goals and challenges continues to be a great contribution both to Adastral Park and to BT’s University Research programme, and to the UK’s ICT postgraduate researcher community.”

A key research question that emerged was, given the trend for AI to dynamically manage Quality-of-Experience on a converged infrastructure, how can we understand what the AI has done and why? Exciting times lie ahead for our research community as we tackle the challenges of future networks. The Tommy Flowers Institute Autumn conference is from 26th – 27th September 2017 - focussing on “Security and Trust”.

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