Distance is no barrier for Jacques Attali as he delivers his keynote for DigiWorld 2013 in Montpellier … from New York
by Jo Perrin
When the French economist, politician and intellectual, Jacques Attali, was summoned to New York unexpectedly, it impacted not only his own schedule, but also the team organizing the 2013 DigiWorld Summit in Montpellier, France. As the closing speaker of the summit, M. Attali – the CEO of international consulting firm A&A, and President of PlaNet Finance - was a key draw for DigiWorld participants. His inability to attend the event in person was a serious setback. The DigiWorld team had to find a solution.
The DigiWorld Summit has become Europe’s key annual event for telecom, Internet and media experts from around the globe. The 2013 event aimed to identify ‘digital gold mines’ – those technologies that can really add value to our lives – in the context of game-changing technologies such as cloud, mobility and big data. The summit brings together many of the ICT industry’s most influential players, alongside experts from IDATE, to focus on market challenges, the future of information technology, and the potential impact of innovation.
Given that the 2013 DigiWorld conference was all about identifying the digital goldmines, the team felt that a digital solution could be found. And with many of the world’s leading technology players gathered in Montpellier, that solution should surely be close to hand amongst DigiWorld’s own delegates.
Indeed this was the case. Verizon, an IDATE partner, stepped into the breach, putting its Lexington Avenue Cisco TelePresence suite at M. Attali’s disposal. Linking New York to Montpellier over Verizon’s high capacity, global IP network, the Verizon and DigiWorld teams worked alongside a Cisco Advanced Services team to mount a broadcast-quality video conference, which was also live streamed on the Internet. M. Attali was therefore able to join the event ‘live’ even while several thousand miles away.
Making the connection had its own specific challenges. TelePresence replicates face-to-face interactions over high-definition video so realistically that it feels as though everyone is in the same room – even though the participants may be thousands of miles apart. Businesses benefit from easy remote collaboration, helping to achieve quicker decision-making and issue resolution, build stronger relationships, and make more efficient use of limited resources.
However, in this situation, the Montpellier conference venue had no dedicated network bandwidth to support the service (which would normally be the case), and the technical teams needed to work with different specifications and codecs at various connection points along the way. But the teams persevered, and M. Attali successfully delivered his closing keynote early in the U.S. morning on Nov. 21.
M. Attali himself was impressed with the capabilities afforded by Verizon’s TelePresence suite, and indeed pronounced himself more than willing to use Verizon’s facilities again. He commented: “The video conference which Verizon organized worked perfectly – and also reminds us that new technologies offer formidable means of economizing on transportation requirements while also reducing energy consumption”. From the DigiWorld perspective, the team was delighted to have found such a speedy resolution to what had, at first, seemed an insurmountable challenge.
François Barrault, IDATE’s Chairman, who was able to maintain his closing conversation with M. Attali, was particularly pleased. He commented: “Thanks to the help of Verizon and Cisco, we were able to conclude the DigiWorld conference according to the program, and what’s more, showing technology in action. Jacques Attali’s contribution was a vital part of our discussion, and it would have been a great shame to have missed his input. From my perspective, this was a perfect example of a digital goldmine in action. This is an additional reason for IDATE to be proud to include Verizon among the DigiWorld Members”
Jacques Attali’s closing keynote at DigiWorld 2013 can be viewed here. You can also hear Karine Calvet, Verizon’s AVP for France, talking about her experience at DigiWorld here. Finally, Verizon’s Ryan Shuttleworth discusses enterprise technology trends at DigiWorld here.