Speech - guest speaker:Mr. Michael J. Sabia, president, BCE Inc.SOLUTIONS FOR A WORLD ON THE GO

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Added on 13 October 2001 in Speeches


Speech given by Mr. Michael J. Sabia
President, BCE Inc.

November 13, 2001

SOLUTIONS FOR A WORLD ON THE GO

The Board of Trade represents the vitality of Montréal's business community— a vitality that is important for Montréal, for Québec and for all of Canada. And BCE is proud to be an integral part of these communities.

The world's a complex place for us adults. It wasn't so long ago that we didn't know, didn't need to know, the difference between Blackberry and Blue Tooth; how MP3 related to ICQ, if at all; or whether ISPs aspired to be ASPs, or vice-versa.

But perhaps the world is not so complicated for my daughter. Her name is Laura and she's nine years old. She doesn't read the daily headlines in La Presse or The Globe & Mail, doesn't debate the esoteric, the political, the social.

She talks on the telephone, plays and chats on the Internet and lectures her father about spending too much time at the office.

Laura still lives the luxury of wonder that childhood offers. She's still amazed that Harry Potter flies, that cell phones didn't always exist and that, someone as “old” as her father could be involved in something as “cool” as the Internet.

While I'm not inviting you to child's play, I am going to take a page from Laura's book and ask you to forget, or just suspend for a few minutes, what you see on your television everyday or read in your newspapers with growing
apprehension.

For in the face of conflict and terror, gloom and uncertainty, has our world ceased to advance? No.
Has innovation stopped? No!
Do we continue to seek better and more rewarding lives for ourselves, our children? Of course, we do.

Progress and change continue. And that 's a good thing. For my child and for yours. For their children. And for the immense possibilities that are at hand.

Possibilities to harness the power of communications and unleash new and unprecedented tools to transform our lives, our work, and our relationships with each other and the world.

To help us imagine those possibilities, let's glimpse into the lives of Monsieur “B” and his family, a dynamic Montréal trio living just a few years into the future.

Monsieur “B” is a successful lawyer, and today, he is on his way into the office. He gets an urgent call on his cell phone: his most important, most demanding client wants to see him immediately to sign a revised contract for a major transaction. Monsieur “B” stops off at a public Internet kiosk. He quickly and securely accesses his office server, makes the required changes to the contract
and then downloads it and prints two copies.

As a precaution, he also downloads the quickest route to his clients' office into his PDA. As he's driving, a personalized version of daily business news is read to him through his mobile voice portal.

In a matter of minutes, he's visited his client, signed the necessary papers and is back on the road. He notices he's late for the staff meeting. Not an issue. He merely activates the video-conferencing feature — web-based of course, available from his PDA.

Meanwhile, back at her home office, Madame “B”, a respected pediatrician, notices an e-mail advising her there's an invoice for her on the Canadian Medical Association's extranet site for the research materials she's ordered over the past three months. She clicks on the link, verifies the accuracy of the invoice and then clicks on the electronic payment option that debits her bank
account. It's done.

A few minutes later, Madame “B” receives an urgent call from the Emergency Room at her hospital. A young boy has been injured. Linked to the wireless remote diagnostic tools aboard the ambulance, Doctor “B” is able to determine there are no internal injuries and directs the ambulance to the hospital best equipped to provide the orthopedic surgery that's required.

Just a few blocks away, young Mademoiselle “B” is enjoying an active day at school. She and her classmates are working on an assignment on the history of the Hudson's Bay Company. They're using a live chat collaboration tool from their interactive PCs. They have access to the National Archives, the Library of Parliament and HBC's own corporate archives. And they have sourced video recreations produced by the Discovery Channel on the life and times of Radisson and des Groseillers.

So what are some of the technologies the now famous family “B” have just used in these not too distant views of the future? Well, High-Speed Internet Access, Streaming Media, electronic bill presentment and payment, Voice over IP, location-based services, mobile telephony, instant messaging, peer to peer computing and sophisticated applications software.

The vast majority of this technology is available now. These are just a few possibilities, but they illustrate profound changes. And what is at the root of this change? It is technology that continues to evolve at warp speed.

  • By 2007, chip-maker Intel will be producing a microchip that contains a billion transistors, each of which can signal 20 billion times a second. By comparison, if you blinked once every second, to blink 20 billion times would take you almost 1,000 years.
  • Computing power continues to double every 18 to 24 months. Why does that matter? Because, capacity goes up; costs come down.
  • In bandwidth. The cost of sending 1 terabit of data has fallen so far in the last 25 years, that if every dollar saved equaled one inch, the vertical axis of a cost reduction graph would have to be 10 times the height of the CN Tower.

The result: a true multimedia Internet is coming. As colorful, compelling and capable as television, but fully interactive, and tailored just for you.

The Internet provides us with the unprecedented ability to store, transmit and manipulate digital information. To deal with data in any format and make it available over any device — telephone, cell phone, PC, laptop, palmtop, Blackberry, television; it's seemingly endless.

Imagine the possibilities: global reach, any network, any device, interactive and “tailored to you” — your needs, your preferences.

And as technology makes all of this possible, the world moves faster and faster.

As information abounds, communications becomes pervasive and instantaneous. Issues arise and decisions are required — all faster and faster.

In this maelstrom, we, as individuals and as professionals, search for tools to simplify our lives, our work, to manage the flow of information that assaults us everyday, to enable us to live and work smarter and more efficiently. These changes — technological and social — are driving our industry. They are driving BCE.

And they are also creating unprecedented opportunities.

That is why companies like BCE, AOL, IBM, Microsoft, EDS and even Disney are re-inventing themselves to take advantage of the opportunities of the Internet.

Just five years ago, BCE's competitors were telephone companies like AT&T and Sprint — and of course they still are. But now, software companies, hardware manufacturers, systems integrators and transaction services companies are all playing in the same space.

Today, competition is coming from many sides as the structures that had once defined our industry have fallen away. Who do we compete with today?

  • Obviously, cable companies, which provide high-speed Internet access, and are just beginnning to offer voice telephony.
  • But also, AOL Time Warner, with an unparalleled collection of media properties to feed its global Internet strategy.
  • IBM, which has morphed into an e-business services firm which, like EDS, has a clear focus on managing customer networks; something you would think only a telecommunications company could do.
  • And no less a player than Microsoft, is trying to reinvent itself too. Not only with Hotmail and Instant Messenger, but with telephony embedded in its new Windows XP software and a plan to move from a developer of software to a provider of services.

Just like BCE, these new competitors understand that the needs of customers have changed and that technology provides possibilities like never before. Along with us, they understand that the nature of value creation has changed.

They are creating new models to support that change.

And, we all understand that to succeed in this environment, we must adopt new and different ways of thinking — of thinking about the fundamentals of our business. For us at BCE, this means two things:

  • First, recognizing that our networks, as sophisticated and leading-edge as they are, represent “pipes” and are not in and of themselves capable of sustaining our growth — of supporting a strategy for this new age.
  • And second, that to deliver value to customers, and our shareholders, we have to fill those pipes with services. Not any service, but services that help our customers simplify their lives and their work.

Simplifying the lives of our customers — managing information for individuals and helping business be more productive — is at the heart of our business strategy. It's the centerpiece of BCE's future.

To develop applications for businesses, we look to the e-commerce expertise of Montréal-based BCE Emergis. Their expertise is simplifying electronic business transactions between companies. They are the best in North America, I think. We, of course, leverage and broaden these new-found
capabilities over our advanced networks at Bell.

On the content side, we need two things. First, the content itself —news, sports, information — from companies such as CTV, RDS and TQS, from The Globe and Mail, and from Web portals like Sympatico.ca. Second, we need their ability to “package” the content which we ultimately offer our
customers. For from packaging — read personalization — comes simplicity.

To deliver these new services requires the integration of complex technology, and advanced applications. Connectivity, e-commerce and information and entertainment — BCE is the force that allows us to bring together these once diverse capabilities into a single, simplified and coherent offering to our customers.

And to further strengthen our position, we anchored these new services to the Bell brand, capitalizing on 120 years of trust and loyalty. It's that drive to grow our business, to play along with the AOLs, the IBMs, the Microsofts of the world and do it from a Canadian base, and with a Canadian voice, that's behind the strategy we have adopted at BCE.

Today's customer is racing to meet life's mounting obligations and thirsts for new experiences. There is no denying that the pace is fast and getting faster.

Meanwhile the Internet is delivering infinite choices.

Consumers need services that will help them harness the tremendous flow of information from the Internet. BCE put together the software, the hardware, the content, the services — in other words, the tools — to bring together solutions for our customers so they, in turn, can focus on pursuing their interests:

  • To simplify their lives— the information, communications and entertainment they want, when and how they want it;
  • To transform the way they work — taking advantage of the Internet to re-write the rules of business.

We propose to be agents of simplicity in this new world. That's why we are developing customer solutions that are easy to use, personalized and available on multiple devices.

This goal can be summed up in a simple, yet powerful word: “GO” (Allez-y in French). GO symbolizes what we strive to give our customers — not products or services, but the simplicity and choice to unclutter their lives, so that they can GO pursue their real interests — at work and at play.

If our customers get more control over the information that's important to them, they enjoy greater freedom in their lives.

GO is central to our strategy and it's a rallying cry across the entire organization. This is a new world for us, too. We know we have to re-fashion ourselves into a faster, more agile company. We know we need new capabilities and competencies. GO is guiding all that we do — from the products we develop, to the way we make decisions, to the people we will hire and promote.
Let me give you just a few examples of some of the new services we have developed.

  • A ComboBox that integrates high-speed Internet and satellite television on your T.V. screen. It will let you capture and store broadcast and Internet content for your personal use, and on your timetable. In effect, it will enable you to create your own virtual network.
  • TSNMAX, an Internet service that offers personalized and enriched sports coverage delivered to your computer or wireless device. With the built-in system of alerts, you're not constantly chasing down information; it's following you.
  • GlobeinvestorGOLD is another Internet based service which provides a range of stock alerts and a depth and quality of financial information that will rival any in the world.

Businesses also need simple solutions. They want to adapt to a world in which Internet technologies are moving closer to the heart of the enterprise driving new revenues and reducing costs. This is a big challenge for small and medium-sized firms which face the difficulty of having neither the staff nor the budgets to manage this change. Since they can't support in-house expertise, we're focused on taking that challenge off their desks.

We have the state-of-the-art, leading-edge networks and the customer relationships. Now we are offering a new range of business applications — invoicing and payment capabilities, customer relationship management systems, tools for building interactive Web sites and others — that business can access on an as-required basis.

Our business customers use the applications on-line, as they need them.
Paying as they use them.

We manage the updates and maintenance. We monitor the network. We keep the services leading-edged. The customer focuses on her business.

And these are just a start. In the months ahead, we will continue to roll out innovative services to simplify the lives of our customers.

And a little further down the road?

Picture this: As CIO of a major financial institution, you're about to report to the board on your progress in reducing the back office time and cost to complete stock trades. You know that in the old world — just a few years ago — 70 per cent of the cost of the trade was for correcting errors made in the labour-intensive, paper-based process you once had to manage.

Today, you can be confident as the board evaluates your success. The time to completion has been reduced to one day from the previous three. The cost of the automated clearing system is thirty per cent less. Your customers are happier, and your board is impressed.

Or give thought to:

A fiercely independent patient is becoming more forgetful about the many prescription medicines she has to take. But every day, she gets an automated electronic message from her pharmacy — on her phone, on her computer, on her cell phone . . . wherever it is most useful to her — reminding her to take her pills. At the right time, the system reminds her to get her prescription renewed, and copies both her doctor and her pharmacist so they're in the loop. If she takes sick while traveling, physicians and pharmacists can get access to her full medication history and avoid prescribing incompatible drugs. That's good for the patient, and for the rest of us because it also helps us better manage our health care system. When patients don't take their prescribed drugs – or take the wrong drugs - the cost to the system ultimately affects all of us. To the tune of $4 billion every year in Canada.

This is the kind of radical innovation we aim to achieve. It lies just over today's horizon.
It is the kind of radical innovation I want for my daughter, my friends and colleagues. And for you and your children. Because if your life is anything like mine, you're stretched in many directions,
juggling work and home.

The innovative services we're developing will give us all more control, more choice, and ultimately more freedom. It's the kind of simplicity we at BCE are helping to create by bringing together our strengths in networks with advanced applications and the content our customers need.
It is also the kind of radical innovation in communications that Canadians have always been good at.

We must continue that leadership — as a company and as a country. It's the only way that we will be able to offer younger Canadians new job opportunities; that we will be able to support R & D and provide Canadians with the most advanced communications services in the world.

Radical innovation is also the only way to be strong at home so that we can take Canadian communications expertise to an increasingly borderless world. Our challenge now at BCE is to prepare ourselves for the possibilities. Or, to borrow just a little bit of the precious sense of limitlessness from a nine year old's imagination.

Our challenge is to GO. To GO imagine the ways we can make life simpler, richer and more rewarding — for my daughter, for you and for your children.

When all is said and done, imagination is really about spirit.

We're building a new spirit at BCE. A spirit of creativity, change and confidence in the future.

Let me show you what I mean.