subscribe: Daily Newsletter


Value from next-generation applications and services


The coming era of communications will be one marked by a fundamental change in the way applications and services are designed, developed, delivered and used, write Peter Carbone and Silvana Romagnino of Nortel.

New innovative technologies that bring together the richness of applications with the sophistication and intelligence of next-generation telecommunications networks will bring about a dramatic jump in value for enterprises, carriers and consumers.
Over the next two to five years, a much richer set of communications and network-enabled applications and services will enable greater customisation, more simplified interactions, and automatic adaptation to users' environments and preferences.
Going forward, applications that are not enabled by networks and communications will be inadequate and networks that know nothing about applications will be irrelevant. With this new communications era, of course, comes a set of demanding technical challenges along with significant opportunities for technology innovation.
There are numerous examples. A businessman, checks into a hotel room. His RFID badge communicates with the room's location sensors and then scans his thumb-print into the room's scanning device to complete a short authentication process.
Instantly and invisibly, the network adapts to his configuration requirements. The room's phone is automatically personalised, the television is set with his favourite programming, the in-room PC with his customary applications environment, security requirements and personal preferences. The moment he leaves his room, all calls are forwarded to his mobile device.
A person at the scene of an accident dials 911. The victim's location is made instantly available to emergency dispatchers. Paramedics are quickly advised of the shortest, most traffic-free route and guided to the scene by the in-vehicle real-time navigation system, while dispatchers track the ambulance's progress through the vehicle's on-board location-based service system.
 As the ambulance approaches the scene, the victim's identity and medical information is securely fed to an on-board medical monitoring equipment, which sets up data and multimedia sessions with the emergency room, associating them with an electronic tag attached to the victim throughout the ordeal.
A company's asset-tracking sensors detect the unauthorised movement of an expensive asset, instantly setting off an electronic alarm and activating an automated process that quickly locates the nearest available security guard.
The surveillance system then notifies the guard. As the guard travels to the asset's location, real-time video feeds and location updates are sent to the guard's mobile device to help that guard determine how best to handle the situation.
An insurance agent, working on a client's file with the customer, notices that the policy has been changed by an associate. Seeking to clarify the change, the agent instantly sees that the associate is on-line and available, through presence information embedded in the insurance application. The agent then initiates a call with the associate directly from the application and the two parties address any questions raised by the customer.
These scenarios provide just a glimpse into the types of capabilities that will be possible as new technologies enable us to reinvent applications and services and take next-generation broadband networks to an entirely new level of value.
The goal is twofold. Firstly, to create a rich menu of modular building blocks (called "enablers") from both the IT and networking worlds that can be easily mixed and matched to form wholly new kinds of applications that are empowered with telecom capabilities and that drive innovative new services into every conceivable service category.
Secondly, the goal is to orchestrate these enablers into automated business workflows that can streamline business processes, reducing human delays that impede these processes and bringing about a more seamless, simplified, customised, adaptable and productive communications experience.