Category: R&D

Digital Transformation Videos

“The debate surrounding digitalization has gained increased practical importance […] changes in business approaches, opportunities for organizations in operational and business process development, with effect on the internal and external efficiency of IT.”

“When planning for digital transformation, organizations must factor the cultural changes they’ll confront as workers and organizational leaders adjust to adopting and relying on unfamiliar technologies.”

“Digital transformation has created unique marketplace challenges and opportunities, as organizations must contend with nimble competitors who take advantage of the low barrier to entry that technology provides.”

“Additionally, due to the high importance given today to technology and the widespread use of it, the implications of digitalization for revenues, profits and opportunities have a dramatic upside potential.”



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5 minute intro: restricted access

15 minute demo session:


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3 minute introduction:

15+ minute demo session:


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10+ minute demo session:

20+ minute deep dive:

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60 min webinar:

90 min webinar: registration required



5 minute interview – processing


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4 min day-in-the-life “emerging experiences” -Millennial Zoe:

4 min day-in-the-life “forward looking concepts” -GenX Ethan:

I need to spend some time locating and reviewing videos discussing other projects that I have been involved in for Mixed Reality (MR), Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), Interactive Mobile Media, Commuting Vehicles, and the Internet of Collaborative Robotics… and will share them in future updates.

Human Factors Engineering: leveraging the Internet of Things and Mobile Sensing Networks with Big Data and Social Analytics

“The ultimate test of a practical theory, of course, is whether or not it can be used to build working systems. It is good enough to use in the real world? […] Almost uniquely among the social sciences, this new social physics framework provides quantitative results at scales ranging from small groups, to companies, to cities, and even to entire societies […] it provides people –e.g., government and industry leaders, academics, and average citizens- a language that is better than the old vocabulary of markets and classes, capital and production […] the engine that drives social physics is big data: the newly ubiquitous digital data now available about all aspects of human life. Social physics functions by analyzing patterns of human experience and idea exchange.”Social Physics by Alex Pentland.


Back in 2010 I worked on the Amazing Learning Unit, a research project leading to a proof of concept demonstration. The anecdote behind it’s name was that by calling it A.L.U. we played with the fact that those same three letters formed Alcatel-Lucent’s stock ticker. On a more serious note, we partnered with Lego and the Illinois Math & Science Academy (IMSA) to unveil a simulation at Mobile World Congress in 2011, which was very well received.

The Amazing Learning Unit’s concept entailed “Lego robotics” equipped with Touchatag’s RFID readers and Android phones and tablets. As you can see in the above picture, these “mobile units” were designed to look, behave and roam around like autonomous screens, cameras and sensors with wheels.

Driven by human factors engineering principles, the thinking behind the project was centered not on technology, but on taking down the classroom’s physical walls, which can make today’s schools and school districts behave like “geofenced silos”. This is an environment that can constrain kids’ exposure to an outside world that’s growing more connected and diverse. The project’s main goal was to enable boundariless collaborative learning, our technologies being the means to that end.

The concept called for the robots to roam around the classroom and sense what a kid was playing with, or what book she/he was reading. Classroom’s objects and books would feature the Touchatag’s stickers to that end. The result is a mobile sensing network that falls in the IoT, Internet of Things, category.

Leveraging social analytics, we thought of a “serendipity engine” which would then connect the kid with another child from any other school who would be engaged in a similar activity, and whose skill and learning behaviors happened to be a good match for them to play together. The smartphone screens would prompt interactive online activities jointly with video calls engaging them in context-aware and “peer-to-peer collaborative learning”.

We discussed what’s now known as collaborative filtering and matchmaking options to promote role model behaviors and how to adequately display them to help realize everyone’s potential, and to do so in everyone’s best interest. We also looked into sensitive matters centered on behavioral analytics, privacy and the pros and cons of emotional and persuasive design features.

As part of the project’s research, gamification techniques were thought out to incentivize players, such as competitive challenges, progressive skill levels, in-game rewards and scoreboards. Circling back with a recent post on working with personas, the ones created for this project were modeled after our own children and my kid inspired and enjoyed participating in the project’s living lab.

The prototype unveiled at Mobile World Congress showcased some of the above concepts. It is worth sharing that the business goal was to help experience some as complex as the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) in a new and radically light back in 2010. I strived to humanize what can otherwise come across as overlay technical and rather obscure sets of technologies behind network infrastructure, platforms and telecommunication services, the essence of our company’s product portfolio. Therefore, we purposely placed the emphasis on creating new experiences such as the one delivered by the Amazing Learning Unit. Our inventiveness and technologies became transparent and were in place to deliver the magic.

Interestingly enough, this research project led to discussions with MIT and a leading global network operator. That time around, we looked at how this kind of experiences can be applied in enterprise environments to raise productivity and foster collaborative and multi-disciplinary workstyles. Enabling new organizational and decision making cultures in other words. The following phase of the research was titled Immersive Mobile Systems, IMS in short : )

Human Factors Engineering: Modeling Personas (1)

Pervasive “software defined smarts” and “ubiquitous connectedness” are set to change how we design and interact with day-to-day objects as well as sophisticated enterprise systems. The fact is that the rise of (1) behavioral and social analytics, (2) machine learning and recommender technologies and (3) a new generation of context-aware adaptive interfaces happen to redefine and elevate how Human Factors Engineering, HFE, can effectively deliver User Centered Design (UCD). HFE’s end goal is to humanize tech. The outcome grows the user base by democratizing technologies, which leads to serial innovation.

Just a couple of weeks ago I participated in very interesting discussions on user profiling and mass personalization during workshops hosted at the IBM Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA. In subsequent posts I will keep that conversation going by outlining a framework addressing users, personas and identities, which are not interchangeable terms.

Back in Boston we also exchanged insights on ease of consumability from an end-to-end systems engineering approach. This reinforces HFE’s holistic principle around the user experience journey spanning complete lifecycles, all the way from discoverability and experimentation to decommissioning, repurposing and/or recycling products and services upon End of Life (EOL).  

Modeling personas is a well known research technique. Though, let’s keep in mind that it entails a proxy approach and is just one tool in HFE’s toolset. My experience is that solely relying on modeling personas alone is not enough. In any case, I would like to take this chance to retrieve a couple videos from a project I worked on about 10 years ago. Here is the context:

  • The first iPhone was released in mid 2007, which took the market by storm with a fast growing ecosystem of applications.
  • The wireless telecommunications sector had mostly relied on business models and revenue from voice services instead.
  • The advent of a “data tsunami” put significant pressure on 2.5G wireless networks and accelerated 3G and 3.5G deployments.

Long story short, delivering Mobile Broadband meant going beyond 3.5G to improve and scale infrastructure, delivery platforms and services in more effective and cost efficient ways, which became 4G’s opportunity, LTE, WiMAX, UMB being the competing standards early on.

These two videos were released in 2008 with the objective to discuss scenarios envisioning a short term 2010 horizon, as well as a forward looking outlook for 2015 for 4G. Note that LTE has become the prevailing worldwide network technology and that the standard was finalized by the end of 2008.

We defined two personas (fictional characters) to synthesize a selective set of research findings and assumptions, which helped us visualize and explore 4G’s opportunity: Zoe – Millennial, and Ethan – Gen-X. The stories in this narrative were structured as a succession of persona-based scenarios assembled as a “Day-in-the-Life” journey. The emphasis was placed on network effects depicting social interactions and collaborative behaviors engaging others in a variety of sessions.


By conducting a retrospective assessment ten years later, we can now spot hits-and-misses and what specific forecasting frameworks and techniques worked better. It is also true that this project was leveraged as “thought leadership” initiative seeking to influence future developments: prompting LTE adoption by network operators in this particular case. Research wise, that means factoring a “confirmation bias” (a self-fulfilling prophecy effect) and

In the spirit of full disclosure, our customers asked about the availability of these applications as soon as we discussed our vision with them. So, we went on to form an extensive ecosystem initiative known as ng.connect to collaborate with third party partners and research institutions to “make things real”. I was involved in ng.connect as an internal consultant in its early days, mostly supporting the University Innovation Program on a project basis. As PARC’s, Palo Alto Research Center’s, Alan Kay put it, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”.

By the way, there are other related quotes out there. I came across Alan K’s one when reading Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators”. My favorite take was written by Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet:

Wayfarer, the only way

Is your footprints and no other.

Wayfarer, there is no way.

Make your way by going farther.

By going farther, make your way

Till looking back at where you’ve wandered.

Innovation Management Essentials: Impactful Demos

“The Mother of All Demos is a name given retrospectively to Douglas Englbart’s December 9, 1968 […] The live demonstration featured the introduction of a complete computer hardware and software system called the oN-Line System or more commonly, NLS. The 90-minute presentation essentially demonstrated almost all the fundamental elements of modern personal computing: windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing, the computer mouse, word processing, dynamic file linking, revisions control, and a collaborative real-time editor (collaborative work). Engelbart’s presentation was the first to publicly demonstrate all these elements in a single system. The demonstration was highly influential and spawned similar projects at Xerox PARC in the early 1970s. The underlying technologies influenced both the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows graphical user interface operating systems in the 1980s and 1990s.”
The Mother of All Demos, Wikipedia.


Compelling demonstrations can make all the difference when introducing emerging technologies. There is no slideware or paper substitute for the kind of revelations, quality insights, and lasting emotions that we all get when experiencing things live and first hand. On the research side, interactive demonstrations have become invaluable tools that expose and test concepts. Moreover, they prompt invaluable feedback by questioning, validating, unveiling unsuspected items as well as winning hearts and minds to further advance a cause.

Those are some of the reasons why I prioritize demo development and my research process involves activities such as field trips and ethnographic insights captured in environments like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago and open-door showcases at renowned institutions like Fermilab. Successful science exhibits make complex topics approachable and engaging. They are carefully designed with craftsmanship pride to be perceived as astute, immersive and to appeal to our brain’s intuition and intellect.

The above graphic features quotes from Albert Einstein and Nicholas Negroponte on the left, coupled with Salvador Dalí and Arthur C. Clarke on the right.  I created that poster’s first version a few years ago and became my reference framework for prototyping and demonstration since. The photographs are courtesy of Wikipedia. Here are further insights on what these quotes mean to me:

1.- DEMO OR DIE – The introduction of inventions and diffusion of innovations relies on effectively conveying clear and concise value. Interacting with engaging demonstrations can be best supported by well thought out whiteboarding sessions. This communication strategy works best when allowing dynamic conversations instead of long agendas packed with presentation monologues. Most people can talk about the many times when they were either overwhelmed, underwhelmed or just bored to death by slideware… and became suspicious of hype. Note that we all deal with an unfavorable Signal-to-Noise (S/N) ratio in today’s information rich environment and, therefore, compete for customers and/or users’ undivided attention. Once again, memorable hands-on demonstrations can make all the difference.

2.- GROW TO LOOK LIKE THE PORTRAIT – High tech is a fast paced industry. One can be left wondering if the technology, toolset, application and/or overall system being discussed will grow and scale as needed beyond day one. There can also be concerns around maturity levels, roadmapping options and future proofing when working with emerging technologies. Demos can be used to convey a tangible vision based on attainable end-goals. They can also be used for what-if-analysis, sunny and rainy day scenarios (which can include full lifecycle and stress tests) and plot plausible journeys to go from A to B and any steps in between. Helping everyone come to terms with what lays ahead is key to defining product strategies and planning decisions “to grow to look like the portrait.”

3.- EXPLAIN IT SIMPLY – Apparently unavoidable jargon and well intended technical kumbaya can become easily entangled. Complex explanations suffer from information overload. Convoluted narratives pleasing the presenter’s ego can make unclear what specific problem or pain point he/she solving, and what the sought after benefits and priorities are. When “less is more” it definitely pays to define a vantage point, zoom out, distill fundamentals and synthesize the essence. Knowing your audience and getting the job done in the clearest and most effective terms possible means striking a balance and staying away from oversimplifying or complicating matters. This is an iterative exercise that often demands more time, effort and reviews than the usual information dump. We also need to be able to step-zoom to deliver the next level of detail and to conduct deep dives… without incurring information overload. Humanizing technology, storytelling techniques and ease of information visualization are key to developing a coherent narrative.

“The meaning of a communication is defined by the Change and Affect it creates for the audience. Stories are concerned with transformation. In stories something Changes to create an emotion […] The Change has to resonate with the Audience to generate an Affect; a feeling, a reaction or an insight […] We shall consider these two defining characteristics of narrative to clarify the purpose of any communication […] Change and Affect create meaning. – “Crackle and Fizz. Essential Communication and Pitching Skills for Scientists.” – Caroline van den Brul. Imperial College Press.


4..- IT’S MAGIC – This is all about the so called X-FACTOR: an unsuspected quality making something be different and special in unequivocal terms. To be more precise, the X-FACTOR’s experience
can be broken down as follows:

  • SURPRISE FACTOR – this relies on managing perceptions and the discovery process, the tipping point being delivered by a timely and unsuspected clever twist and a defining punch line – the “aha” moment.
  • WOW FACTOR – high impact, impressive, awe-inspiring outcome, benefits and results that can be easily understood and embraced – the “I didn’t know we could do that” and “I want to know more” moment.
  • COOL FACTOR – elegant sophistication and grace, clear object of desire – the “I want that” moment, this being most demos’ ultimate Call-To-Action (CTA.)

The art and science behind the above is known as “affective design.” Techniques such as perceptual learning and emotional intelligence in design (emotional design in short) are applied in Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) to foster pleasant ease of use, drive further engagement and productive usage in the process. Widespread digitalization and the advent of wearables make HCI commonplace, which is influencing product design.


The above is a demo’s “full disclosure” chart, which breaks down what’s real and what’s not. This is needed because vaporware can be an issue of concern.

1.- PRIOR ART – In the above example, a given percentage of the demonstration system involved known technologies, some from third party partners.

2.- STATE OF THE ART – The greatest and latest features, cutting edge delivered by technologies that are available today.

3.- FUTURE ART – A sneak preview of new features and capabilities that are planned, undergoing development and/or committed, but not yet available.

4.- ART OF THE POSSIBLE – Proof of Concept illustrating experimentation results and potential, bleeding edge capabilities that are not yet committed.

By the way, vaporware is the result of positioning 3 and 4 as part of 2. Avoiding unpleasant misunderstands prompts the need for disclosing these four different maturity levels. Note that one graphic applies to a comprehensive demonstration system encompassing those four aspects and their relative weight.

One other thought, there is a difference between incremental and disruptive innovation. The first delivers improved qualities such as better performance in A/B comparison testing as an example, “A” being prior art and “B” state of the art. Most would agree on defining disruptive innovations as game changers which deliver unique capabilities that clearly supersede legacy and conventional systems. That alone renders “A” obsolete. A/B comparison testing leads to discussions on the difference between Present Mode of Operations (PMO) and Future Mode of Operations (FMO.)

“Humanists must be educated with a deep appreciation of modern science. Scientists and engineers must be steeped in humanistic learning. And all learning must be linked with a broad concern for the complex effects of technology on our evolving culture.” – Jerome B. Wiesner.

Lean NFV Ops Workshops at CIC.


We have hosted a number of workshops with customers, partners, analysts and public officials worldwide. Back in November we welcomed Light Reading analysts in Naperville, IL, who had meetings with IP Platforms’ leaders and joined a live demonstration at the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).

‘[R&D work] is in the operations,’ Bhaskar Gorti, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)’s president of IP Platforms, told Light Reading without hesitation at a recent on-site visit: ‘Getting a network function to run in a virtualized network is fine, but the reality is that there will be a hybrid world of virtual and physical networks. How do you operate it?’ In fact, its Naperville, IL. offices are full of Lean Ops demos that show evidence of this R&D work.”Alcatel-Lucent’s NFV Boss: Operations Is Key R&D.” by Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director at Light Reading.

“A visit to Alcatel’s Lucent’s Naperville, IL. Campus, west of Chicago, shed light on how the company is focusing its efforts around software and the cloud.” “Ted East showed us how easy it is to spin up services like firewalls in the cloud, thanks to SDN and NFV. Then he had us cause a network failure by playing Whack-a-Mole in order to demonstrate how fast the network can rebuild itself.” – “Alcatel-Lucent Field Trip” by Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor at The New IP.


CIC’s NFV Solutions Hub provides a truly immersive operational experience of running a cloud based telco using NFV technologies. The hub advances collaboration with network operators and ecosystem partners by enabling real solutions to be built and validated as well as providing a hosted cloud facility for the Alcatel-Lucent community.

The most visible outcome involves Proof of Concept (PoC) projects, high impact demonstrations and practical assistance with onboarding and validating Virtual Network Functions (VNF). Light Reading’s team experienced CIC’s Lean NFV Ops program, which showcases a fully virtualized end-to-end VoLTE environment and a wide range of service lifecycle use cases and operations.

An interactive demonstration deploys Rapport Cloud Communications and IPR&T Cloud Mobile Core (vEPC) working with Motive Dynamic Operations (MDO), CloudBand Management System, and Nuage Network’s Virtualized Service Platform (VSP). This is all running live using commercially available software including CloudBand Nodes which leverage OpenStack and is widely considered the most stable and mature platform for NFV. Furthermore, this session also promoted the role of our Ecosystem Program with over 60 members and positioned Services and Consulting practices, which are currently helping to deliver 6 commercial NFV projects and discussed the impact of Bell Labs research findings.


The team at the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).

The Lean NFV Ops demonstration experience was launched at Mobile World Congress in March and has been turned into a program that has been featured in 70+ events and workshops worldwide, engaging 1,600+ industry representatives.

These help not only discuss and validate fundamental concepts but also gather invaluable customer insights in the process. Intel’s Data Center Group Leadership singled out our program in their Investor Day where Alcatel-Lucent was the only partner featured in the demonstration zone. Intel has also funded and sponsored our most recent video, which is now available on TelecomTV.

Customized Lean NFV Ops workshops, whether at Executive Briefing Centers (EBC), at customer premise or online, can be easily booked online.


LEFT: Experience Lean NFV Operations includes “book a workshop”. RIGHT: Become a Dynamic Lean NFV Operator.

I would like to take this chance to thank Ted East and Phil Tilley for their input.