“It was December 9, 1968, and as Kay watched from audience, Douglas Engelbart and his fellow computer scientists from Silicon Valley’s Stanford Research Institute unveiled NLS, an online system that included the world’s first computer mouse and presaged so much of today’s online software, including everything from window-like interfaces to what we now call hyperlinks […] Many didn’t understand it […] Short for oNLine System, NLS let you work and communicate with others in countless ways. You could edit text, draw images, manipulate and organize files, send messages, and even video conference. The idea was to supercharge human intelligence through collaboration.” – “Tech Time Warp of the Week: The Mother of All Demos, 1968“ by Daniela Hernandez, Wired.
Emerging technologies are easily subject to self-defeating hype and unfulfilled promises, making it hard to tell apart what’s real from vaporware. At that point, slideware and writings alone do not suffice, demonstrations and trustworthy testimonials become of the essence.
Please note that I’m not comparing what follows with the original “Mother of All Demos.” The above quote is rather a sign of respect and a reference model, something to look up to and strive for.
Our team at the Cloud Innovation Center has been extremely busy working on an NFV portfolio demonstration and, therefore, looking into a challenging questions on what it takes to deliver the mother of all of our NFV demos, and the purpose that it would actually serve… if any.
We thought that this means shifting from a piece meal approach based on showcasing product specific demos to helping everyone experience what happens when things work together across the board. A silo busting exercise.
The industry’s initial focus on “best of breed” needs to be coupled with a modular end-to-end systems engineering where the resulting value and efficiencies clearly exceed the mere addition of any of these elements. Going back to the “Mother of All Demos” reference, isn’t “supercharging” what synergies should be all about?
Following that train of thought, complexity becomes one other issue of concern, which can undermine any good intentions from the onset. For that reason, we made picture  be our other guiding principle, striving to deliver elegant sophistication in simple terms by engaging the customer in a first hand interactive experience, and making it be a memorable one for that matter.
One more thought… we also discussed what the right ratio should be between presenting “state of the art” and “art of the possible.” Going back and forth many times on this through the process, the team consistently stuck to an 80/20 ratio where 80% of the demonstration is anchored on what becomes available this year and the remaining 20% addresses the path forward and underlying design of future things. When dealing with hot technologies, the industry can get easily saturated with Proof of Concept (PoC) and me-too projects. The more reason to clearly spell out what the real deal is.
Any conversation dealing with emerging technologies should handle two other questions regarding incremental vs. disruptive innovation. We are defining “incremental innovation” as getting better with something that we happen to do today already: showing the delta in performance whether operational or financial. We are defining “disruptive innovation” as doing something that we couldn’t possibly do before when working with legacy and conventional technologies, something of “unique value” that is.
While this might or might not be how others might define incremental and disruptive innovation, we can go beyond semantics to agree on the need for addressing the underlying framework. By the same token, note that a “breakthrough” is not a differentiation in this context, as both kinds of innovations rely on this type of high impact discovery one way or another.
In addition to the above concepts, these few pictures outline some of the tools we used in the design and development of “NFV: Service Innovation & Lean Ops,” which we will be demonstrating in Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in just a couple of weeks. Hope to see you there : )
 Refers to a set of guiding principles: the kind of stuff you go back to conduct a sanity check and when in doubt, which I discussed above. As an example: “if you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
 This is the kick off creative brief: just a one pager outlining the mission by answering “why/what/when/who/where” to being with… while understanding that the project is an iterative journey where we will make discoveries that can make us switch our course and speed as we make progress. Project management wise, it pays to keep an eye on status, flags, % completion and remaining resources, including time left.
 Ideation techniques using both regular post-it and easel size ones for different groups, prioritization exercises leverage location and color coding. Nothing goes to waste: 3M’s Post-it Plus App for Apple’s iPhone comes in handy to capture these “boards,” which helps with post-meeting processing, collecting snapshots of any brainstorming session and keeping up with Kanban scrum boards in software development.
 Conventional whiteboarding also taking advantage of capturing what’s happening with the same app, making an entire whiteboard become a post-it note joining other pictures taken at other sessions, zooming in and out as needed.
 A variety of frameworks have helped organize and communicate information with other teams, as well as a checking for consistency and alignment.
 Low fidelity sketches were used to start visualizing key concepts early on: an agile alternative to cumbersome requirement documents at each iteration.
 High fidelity renderings of photo-realistic mock-ups aiding rapid prototyping.
 Wallpapering in a meeting room where all team members can review designs, post new items and further brainstorm throughout the project.
 Dogfooding (eating your own dog food) means that everyone in the team gets a first hand experience and understanding of what’s being developed, joining testing and contributing to next steps.
 Field trips, going out there to look for best practices and sources for new ideas outside of our own work environment and industry clichés. As an example, these pictures were taken at demonstrations taking place at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and one of Fermilab’s control rooms for the particle accelerator complex.
 Last but not least, the workload involves observational (e.g. ethnography) and usability research coupled with sessions with customers, subject matter experts and in-house stakeholders.
This is an iterative process and the above 10 items might not all take place at each iteration and/or in the same sequence at each cycle.
“Last year’s industry-defining event, Mobile World Congress, was once again hosted in the Mobile World Capital Barcelona, at two world-class venues, Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc. More than 85,000 attendees from over 200 countries were treated to a wealth of learning and networking opportunities; product showcases and announcements; inspiration and innovation […] We’re on The Edge of Innovation, and the possibilities are endless. The 2015 GSMA Mobile World Congress will convene industry leaders, visionaries and innovators to explore the trends that will shape mobile in the years ahead.” – Mobile World Congress.
“Alcatel-Lucent knows that Every Success has its Network and, at MWC 2015, we will illustrate how to remove constraints that stand in the way of your success. Throughout our booth (#3K10, Hall 3) and in discussions with our executives and experts, you will discover how we are focusing on your key challenges: delivering an ultra-broadband mobile experience today with a realistic path to 5G, evolving operations to be more efficient and improve the subscriber experience, partnering to create new features and services you can sell today, and defining a 2020 network vision and a plan to get there.” – Alcatel-Lucent.
Glad to share that this year I’m joining Ted East, VP of the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) to demonstrate innovations on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). This is an emerging and pervasive set of technologies fostering cloud solutions optimized for network operators.
We will be happy to discuss with you “Service Innovation & Lean Ops under NFV” by means of a live and interactive demonstration experience addressing the positive impact of agile service launch subject to Reliability, Availability, Serviceability (RAS) scenarios.
This end to end solution features an application centered system involving sophisticated Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and integrates Operations Support System (OSS), NFV’s Management and Orchestration (MANO) as well as Software Defined Networking (SDN) under a modular and scalable approach.
In addition to Alcatel-Lucent’s portfolio which is represented by Motive Dynamic Operations (MDO), CloudBand Management Platform (CBMS) and Cloud Node, Nuage Networks, Virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC), Virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) our conversation illustrates Ecosystem examples such as Quobis’ WebRTC, findings from Bell Labs Research and presents opportunities for following up with hands on activities at the Cloud Innovation Center.
This demo station delivers a fully immersive experience: deploy a service, trigger failure scenarios on the spot, or simply make a video call with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and enjoy service continuity while operations are in progress. At our demo station you will be able to launch services and see programmability and automatic orchestration in action and, most importantly, all delivered in a cost effective fashion without compromising RAS.
Hope we’ll see you there. If you were not able to make it to Barcelona, we can schedule a visit to the Cloud Innovation Center or to any other appropriate venue.
Last but not least, I would like to take this chance to thank the team involved in this state of the art demonstration. I also appreciate Light Reading for their kind invitation to their Cocktail Reception on Sunday, March 1, will be happy to meet at TechCrunch’s Pitch Off Event on Tuesday, March 3, and at Movistar’s Mobile World Centre located downtown Barcelona, though I don’t have a confirmed date for this yet.
Photo album: last year’s MWC.