Tagged: Chicago

Chicago’s CIO Forums on Digital Transformation, Customer Experience and Big Data

This is just a quick note to share that I’m planning to attend the following forums on Digital Transformation, Customer Experience and Big Data in Chicago. Let me know if you will be there and let’s plan to meet. Thanks to Argyle’s team for their kind invitations.


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Leading the Business through Digital Transformation / The Future of Cognitive Customer Engagement is Now 


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Customer Experience Think Tank


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Leadership in Big Data & Analytics Forum


See you there : )

Rare Blood Moon eclipse.


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I took these couple of pictures around 2:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

“The Earth’s shadow consists of two parts: a dark inner core called the “umbra,” and a lighter outer part called the “penumbra.” Rather than being truly dark, the inner shadow is usually tinted orange or red by light passing through the ring of atmosphere surrounding the Earth. Depending on the atmospheric conditions on Earth in the band of atmosphere through which the sun’s light is passing, the umbra may take on a range of colors from light coppery-red to almost total black. The light illuminating an eclipsed moon is coming from thousands of sunsets and sunrises around the Earth. During some eclipses, these sunsets and sunrises are clear, and much light passes through; during others, clouds may block the light, causing a dark eclipse.” – “Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar Eclipse Series Not a Sign of Apocalypse” by Space.com

Interestingly enough, Mars reached its closest distance to Earth last night too. Early this year we also managed to spot phantom suns and solar halos under extreme weather conditions due to a polar vortex descending into Chicago.


BCG’s Ahead of the Curve: technology leaders outperform with cloud.


“[Leaders] use cloud-based communication tools to connect, coordinate, and collaborate with customers, suppliers, and employees everywhere […] ‘Technology lets me reach my consumers in real time’ says Melissa Shin, founder and CEO of Dagne Dover; a U.S. custom-handbag company. ‘Consumers want to have a dialogue with each other and the brand. They expect it. Technology lets us be unique, personal.’

“Moreover, cloud-based collaboration technologies allow SME leaders to more easily and effectively manage a dispersed and mobile workforce […] Leaders use technology creatively to operate more efficiently […] invest for impact and grow faster. But they do not necessarily spend more as they grown.” 

– “Ahead of the Curve” by David Michael, Neeraj Aggarwal, Derek Kennedy, John Wenstrup, Michael Rubmann, Ruba Borno, Julia Chen, Julio Bezerra at The Boston Consulting Group.


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Daymond John, President and CEO of FUBU (For Us By Us), is definitely engaging. Yesterday’s keynote presentation at The Exchange 2014 was dynamic, creative and insightful. His delivery was mostly about grit and the entrepreneurial spirit behind his success. His journey was packed with difficult situations where turning duress into defining moments propelled his business. Among his many interesting remarks, I would like to selectively highlight this one: “the reason we are all here today is because we don’t need to get stuck in the office… we have the technology (…) you have to use it or you will be dead.” 

Derek Kennedy, Partner at Boston Consulting Group, discussed research findings showing a “strong correlation between the adoption of advanced information technologies on the one hand and growth in revenue and jobs on the other” in a report commissioned by Microsoft. This study surveyed 4,000+ SME (Small and Medium Size Enterprises) in the U.S., Germany, China, India and Brazil. Note that SMEs account for more than 50% of China’s and Germany’s GPD and job creation, 40%+ in the U.S.’ and Brazil’s cases, and 20%+ in India’s.

Enterprises qualified as “technology leaders”  by BCG’s research happen to be heavy users of cloud based services, which the study’s taxonomy portrays as the most salient differentiator: the extent to which these leaders outpace other SMEs is both remarkable and remarkably consistent across all the countries.” 

These companies’ revenue experienced 17% 2010-12 CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in the U.S. and Germany and 28% in China, India and Brazil. This is not just about double digit growth rates on average, but also about increasing revenues 15 percentage points above the other companies and creating about twice as many jobs in the process.


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Back in February I was in Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress with Dan Johnson. We discussed and conducted live demonstrations on our innovative Cloud Communications Platform for service providers. Some questions had to do with the underlying economics, opportunity costs, trade-offs, behaviors and cultures.

Cloud economics happens to be about business model innovation, entrepreneurship and lean operations. BCG’s research helps make the point about crossing the chasm as leaders are clearly outperforming with cloud already. But some remain concerned about any operational efficiencies being offset by hidden costs, lower performance, loss of control, security or, simply, missing key features.

Barcelona’s discussions addressed these anxieties because service levels matter. SLA (Service Level Agreements) are of the essence and make all the difference. These are contracts between enterprises and service providers, which specify what’s available and what performance level applies for each package. Enterprises can take advantage of the following:

  • User friendly self-service coupled modular a la carte packages, pay as you grow plans and customer care.
  • Custom data visualization for reporting, analytics and account data such as billing.
  • VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) with multi layered security and management policies to access cloud services, instead of just having employees use any browser over the public Internet.
  • Secure and high performance in-network clouds, also known as carrier clouds.
  • VPCs (Virtual Private Clouds) providing enterprise grade security while isolating a company’s resources, so that infrastructure is not shared with other cloud customers.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity with backups and built-in geographic redundancy.

Regarding cloud communications, IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) supporte Real Time Communications (voice, video, data) and is engineered to meet “5 nines” reliability, this means high availability with just 5.26 minutes of downtime in an entire year. This is 25.9 seconds a month to make it more tangible. Our team has successfully delivered vIMS (virtual IMS) deployment for a leading service provider’s “production environment / live network” for the past two years with “zero” downtime. IMS is integral to new mobile services such as VoLTE (Voice over LTE) which entails simultaneous voice and data services (integrated multimedia communications) for mobile users.


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Technology is a game changer, but cannot solely account for what’s going on. This new paradigm shift also involves a different mindset. Companies embracing what cloud has to offer are also setting the stage for new business models and organizational behaviors. This is an expanding virtuous spiral (rather than just a flat virtuous circle) where behaviors, business models and technologies interact and fuel one another’s growth and innovation.

Alcatel-Lucent at Chicago’s Science Fair


“This year’s Science Fair proudly welcomes approximately 300 select students from various schools through Chicago. With the theme Bringing Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Home the Fair will showcase a variety of scientific research projects from our city’s best and brightest students […] This fair will not only present the students the opportunity to display their knowledge of substantial developments in the areas of aerospace science, physics and mathematics […] but will also make room for the development of crucial analytical and critical skills. Additionally, the process from the beginning of research to the culminating presentation builds confidence and experience that will be beneficial throughout their burgeoning academic and professional careers.” – “Greetings from the Mayor of the City of Chicago” by Rahm Emmanuel.


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This past Friday Alcatel-Lucent was present at the Museum of Science and Industry with a small team of five judges. Given my background, I have been asked to alternate between behavioral and computer science projects over the past five years. I would like to take this chance to congratulate these four students, who happen to be the minds behind the following computer science projects:

  • Katia Villevald – “Optimizing Traffic Lights”
  • Guochuan Zhang – “Evolving Quantum Gomoku Engines”
  • Tyler Portis –“Hiding in Plain Sight”
  • Isabel Raymundo – “The Changing Computer Mind”

Katia has a vision for how to tackle and effectively downsize the amount of insufferable downtime that most of us experience when stuck in traffic. Zhang’s intellectual curiosity drives him to develop an educational tool that can help others better understand how quantum computing works, a project involving game theory which can be furthered to address financial transactions. Tyler was intrigued by stenography and how that could eventually translate into more secure communications. Isabel’s neural networks project was driven by looking for ways for computer vision to recognize American Sign Language.

These were “Design Projects” as the science fair now differentiates between “Design” and “Experimental Research Projects.” This update acknowledges the fact that today’s discoveries and innovations do not necessarily fit a standard cookie cutter approach subject to a unique and conventional scientific method. This was welcomed news. That alone lets me to think that it would also make sense to encourage the students to take down silos and explore how things connect. As an example, I discussed with them:

  • what it would take to go from their computer models to a real life trial given more resources and time
  • what working with a multi-disciplinary team could bring to the project
  • how to open source and even crowdsourcing the project, thinking of reaping network effects in the research
  • defining specific use cases and personas portraying how users can benefit from the outcome
  • a demonstration that could be featured as one of the Museum’s exhibits to best experience the project’s insights and impact

The fair’s organizers do a very good job at getting a number of industry professionals in the judging process, which helps build bridges between the enterprise world, students and teachers. This is precisely what drove me add the above topics to my discussions with the students beyond what’s outlined in the evaluation forms.

Moreover, I was listening to the news while driving to MSCI. NPR aired an interview on “Does Diversity On Research Team Improve Quality of Science?” Richard Freeman, and economist at Harvard University, claimed that for scientists working “largely with people of their own group, it’s likely the paper gets less citations than if you write it with a broader group of people […] ethnic diversity is an indication of ideas’ diversity […] and avoiding group think is essentially good for science.”

That reminded me of Alcatel-Lucent’s environment where diversity happens in terms of backgrounds, expertise, experiences and geographies as part of our everyday workstyle, which is easy to take for granted as we happen to be accustomed to it. Driving back home, I couldn’t help thinking that Katia, Gouchuan, Tyler and Isabel also were good examples of what science’s diverse nature brings to the table in the context of Chicago’s vibrant digital economy.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the science fair’s Luba Johnson and Yolanda del Rio for all their help, and I look forward to 2015’s event already ; )


“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ By giving just a little bit of our time, our skills or our experience, we can make a huge difference. The Alcatel-Lucent Foundation and its beneficiaries are counting on you and wish you great fun volunteering.” – Volunteer Handbook, Message from Elisabeth Eude, Executive Director at Alcatel-Lucent Foundation.

“Many of you are already volunteering regularly all over the world to make a lasting difference and the ongoing activities are a sure indicator of that. However, we still need more of our colleagues to join the movement and invest with their time so that we can achieve our goals worldwide quickly and set an example in philanthropy.”Volunteer Handbook, Message from Janet Davidson, Chairperson at Alcatel-Lucent Foundation.

Chicago’s cool polar vortex

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In case you wondered, these are neither photoshoppped nor enhanced pictures.  Earlier in the week we got to enjoy another solar halo here in Chicago, the third one I have come across this past month.  This is the result of sunlight refracted by ice crystals in the clouds in extreme cold weather. There were rainbows too, but I didn’t manage to take pictures of that.

The left picture was taken early in the morning while the right one was a sunset. I took these photographs from home and on different days in January. Both atmospheric phenomena delivered solar halos and two sundogs on each side. The sundogs are phantom suns which, technically speaking, do not qualify as mirages.  A mirage turns out to be a different optical phenomenon that does not yield sideway images, but vertical ones.  The sunrise on the left features a horizontal line known as parhelic circle, a beam of sunlight also refracted by hexagonal ice crystals.

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The polar vortex is a large scale cyclone, and we got two of these descending from the artic a couple of weeks apart. The left picture is a snapshot of the kind of extreme temperatures experienced in the Chicago area. The picture on the right shows the wind chill effect (what you actually feel) and –45° F converts into –42° C.  Chicago is now known as Chiberia: on January 6 we recorded colder temperatures than those registered in Novosibirsk in Siberia and at the South Pole’s Amundsen-Scott Station in Antarctica.

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“Al mal tiempo buena cara” is a Spanish proverb which translates into weathering the storm with a brave face, the Spanish equivalent to “keep calm and carry on.”  So, we draw a smiley face on our backyard table : )

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As I type this last sentence it’s now time to go back there and shovel some more snow. So, greetings from Chiberia.