Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) at UCLA
WINMEC CIO Forum 2005
Covell Commons UCLA - Los Angeles, California.
Report by: Thomas Palamides, Canadian Consulate General, Los Angeles, California.
Date: March 14, 2005


Summary:
Irrespective of an industry, the demands on the Chief Information Officer (CIO) are dramatically changing. The reason is that there is a level of technology convergence which is causing both business processes, and technology adoption, to become more linked; however, the speed at which corporate integration is occurring is dependent on the industry.

The CIO has to plan and react to this sea-of-change by building the new face of business that comes with new technologies, and new markets. There has to be a restructuring of the organization from the top down with an embrace of process innovation: Capturing, and maintaining knowledge assets, will be a critical function.

This is the first, of a series of three consecutive conference reports. It highlights one speaker from four select industries: Telecommunications, Defense, City Government, and Entertainment.

Report:

Mr. Ray Gilbert – Director-CIO-IT – Lucent Technologies
This network infrastructure and network service provider company is beginning to see a move into the applications space. Customers worldwide have required Lucent to take a broader approach in its services and vision.

A few years back, the Advanced Practice Council stated that the carrier networks of the future would be defined by infrastructure, that applications would be defined as a value, that business transactions would be a driver for business, and that content would become very valuable. The steps along this route require a company to experiment with emerging technologies, to make substitutions were warranted, to enhance product and service functionality as needed, to transform the organization as required, and to do the best at making the technology transparent to the user. Each stage is part of the convergence path.

Within the telecom industry, change has been so rapid, that the window of change is a moving target. The business process has lead to an “adaptive IT” environment which accommodates real-time needs, the mobile user, and is virtual. Industry trends suggest that network edge deployment will drive convergence.

A few of the core network changes, which are forcing the hand of the carriers, is the adoption of Internet Protocols, new optical networks, and voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP). In addition, new players are entering. Modifications to regulatory policies have also fostered change. In the end, a converged network will offer converged communications.

The convergence evolution trend has traversed the path of virtual bundling, through an IP-based network, to where the state of the industry is today -- value over the IP network.

Lucent suggests that a key enabler to enhance value of the IP network will come from its IP Multi-Media Subsystem (IMS), which is an IP multimedia and telephony core network. IMS is access independent as it supports multiple technology standards (IP to IP session over wireline IP, 802.11, 802.15, CDMA, packet data along with GSM/EDGE/UMTS and other packet data applications). IMS is standardized reference architecture. IMS consists of session control, connection control and an applications services framework along with subscriber and services data. It enables new converged voice and data services, while allowing for the interoperability of these converged services between subscribers.

The vision at Lucent is to have seamless communication, for a seamless lifestyle. This will only be achieved through an enhanced user-centric experience and environment.

Mr. Keith Glennan, VP & CTO – Northrop Grumman

For the enterprise which services the Federal government, there are certain challenges unique to this industry. Applications have historically been disjointed, and centered on a particular technology platform. But, as with commercial business, there is a gradual trend toward using a common infrastructure which leverages Internet protocol technologies, to further increase collaboration.

However, the defense industry faces select inhibitors. These include:
1) Initial production costs.
2) Inadequate ROI metrics and business case concerns.
3) Security.
4) Network reliability and availability.
5) Customer (Government) does not see the value as it assumes it is part of the infrastructure.

These factors, lead to the conclusion, that there is “no killer application” for the industry in general. Thus, the outlook of the defense industry is one of cautious optimism, as convergence takes root.

Northrop Grumman suggests that the plan of adoption will most likely be one that looks at integrating VoIP solutions at regularly scheduled infrastructure replacement cycles, or through the gradual introduction of new installations. However, the process of implementation must first provide adequate bandwidth, fully address quality of service, the need for redundancy of core LAN switches, assigned VLANs with private IP range, intrusion detection, and VPN to wireless LAN. Only then, will VoIP wireless LAN be considered, and surely as an adjunct to the wired VoIP network.

Thera G. Bradshaw, CIO and General Manager, City of Los Angeles
As the 2nd largest city in the United States it has over 50 city departments and 35,000 employees. It also manages, 15 Council Districts, 100 neighborhood Council Districts and 7 City Halls and constituent districts. This means the IT procurement process stacks up to be big money (over a $5 billion budget), big plans (over 100 city technology initiatives are underway) and big problems (no clear process for decision making, duplicity of effort…).

The City of Los Angeles has implemented several E-government initiatives. A few to highlight include:
1) The City Web ( www.lacity.org ) with 20,000 unique visitor/month.
2) 3-1-1 “one-call-to-city-hall”
3) The Business Assistance Virtual Network (www.labavn.org ) which already has 35,000 businesses registered and notifies vendors of bid opportunities for a variety of city departments.
4) LATAX to file city taxes on line.
5) On-line Permits streamlines building permits for construction.
6) Early notification system – allows neighbourhoods to see city policies which impact their neighbourhood.
7) Digital Divide – provides Internet to 73 libraries and public kiosks.
8) WiFi program – partnered with five different departments to provide broadband & beyond for economic expansion.
9) Video conferencing – pilot program underway.
10) Convergence project for VoIP – out for RFP currently!

In 2004, an audit revealed that the technology procurement process, by The City of Los Angeles, was mired in a lengthy approval process. It suggested that requirement for eleven different departments, to sign-off on any given contract award, was archaic and inefficient. The city is reviewing a number of options to streamline procedure.

Over the next few years, the city of Los Angeles intends to develop a citywide IT strategic plan. Emphasis will be placed on security, streamlining business processes, the redeployment of professional staffing shortfalls, and the economical management of leaner budgets.

Mr. Joe Solimando, Sr. VP & CIO, Disney Consumer Products

The role of the CIO in a company which desires “to be the World’s most creative and responsive retail company” is very complicated. The CIO links 8 lines of business units, supports 3 functions, across 35 countries, in 47 global locations, handling 197 business systems, having over 11,000+ system users (4,000 internally, and 7,000+ external business users).

At Disney, production (Live action and animation) and distribution (theatrical and home entertainment) and studio wide (corporate departments) demands on IT have changed dramatically over the last fifteen years. In 1990, there were typically 800 projects released, in 7 standard languages, over 5 months between theatrical and home video launch. In 2005, Disney plans to release 2,500+ projects, in 90+ languages, over a compressed release schedule of only 3 months between theatrical and home video. The main driver for the shortened release window is piracy!

Hence, the studio supply chain has been continually tasked do more. There is a rising expectation, by the consumer, for a higher level of convenience. Also, the rise of the Internet has made the geographical market a global market. This has all lead to a paradigm shift within the industry, and thus new strategic business process, and technology initiatives, were begun.

Disney has worked on integrating planning and supply chain logistics. The company now delivers retail analytics to valued partners. It also is continuing to drive E-commerce solutions by providing automating workflow, developing a common art repository to have improved business process efficiency. It also provides easy access to information through the use of software. The net result has been an increase in collaboration, and productivity among employees.

Furthermore, the job of the CIO can often be one of mediator. There is a constant, yet amiable, tug-of-war between media technology management, who are driven by demand, and traditional IT management, which view their role as having to police rising demand. The media techies are focused on business growth, are mostly volunteers, are ones who welcome disruptive technology which redefines basic business models, and “bet the business” on regulatory change. The traditional IT team desire reduced costs, are comfortable in the traditional hierarchy, embrace stable technology and plod through annoying, yet necessary, regulatory issues. The teams often come to agreement through the establishment of a corporate governance structure. Here IT initiatives can be coordinated and prioritized. In addition, a suggestion has been proposed to move all non-differentiating IT to the corporate IT department where the benefit of economies-of-scale can be realized.

Some of the issues that The Walt Disney Company is considering over the next two to three years involve: Digital production and post production technology; digital cinema; electronic sell-through; next-generation media; distribution strategies; and anti-piracy.

What’s it mean to Canada?

The role of the CIO is becoming more critical in steering the evolution of the corporation. The lessons offered from the key executives in this report, from the inside of some of the largest corporations in America, can be educational. Each suggested its unique ways in which a particular industry is dealing with the sea-of-change.

The most immediate business opportunity of a service firm may be to look into the City of Los Angeles www.labavn.org website. There are a plethora of bid opportunities open.

Conclusion:
To learn more about this conference, and the research opportunities associated with the Wireless Internet for the Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC) at UCLA, please go to http://wireless.ucla.edu/winmec

Thomas Palamides
Business Development Officer
Canadian Consulate General
550 S. Hope Street, 9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA. 90071
Direct: (213) 346-2757
E-mail: thomas.palamides@international.gc.ca
Web: www.losangeles.gc.ca