Proof of concept

Action Week: Smart life moves towards the market

The smart life proof of concept Catalyst has been a real trailblazer throughout its evolution and continues to innovate. The team is looking at ways to commercialize the platform it has developed to co-create replicable, business models for smart cities the world over.

The award-winning project has been through a number of iterations and at the end of 2016, the close-knit team decided it needed to push ahead – not to have a new Catalyst phase, but to take the automated platform for consumer, enterprise and community IoT solutions to market. The team is the first to embark on TM Forum’s new incubator process to help members take the solutions they developed within Catalysts to market.

The Smart Life Catalyst is championed by Christian Maître, Orange CIO Deputy in Charge of IT Excellence, who has worked with dedicated individuals from BaseN, Esri, Infonova and NTS Retail throughout. Catalysts are rapid fire proof-of-concept projects, connecting service providers, technology suppliers and global enterprises to create innovative solutions to common industry challenges.

Taking the culmination of this collaborative work to the market is an important step for the companies involved and for TM Forum’s Catalyst program too, which increasingly will seek to help its members commercialize the proof of concept solutions they have co-created in these projects.

Christian says, “We needed to think about a process for our journey to go to market. We wanted some kind of think tank to ask potential future customers of this kind of product for their opinion – about the way they would like to use [the platform]and the way they would like to monetize it. The first step was which market we should focus on and we decided on smart city.”

Replicable solutions

As a result, the team has eight representatives from smart cities around the world and is holding a two-day workshop find the three best use cases, which, as Christian says, “are very critical for all of them and urgent too, so we can develop digital services on top of our Smart Life Catalyst [platform]. Next year we should be able to launch services for these cities. First, though, the use cases will be demonstrated at TM Forum Live! in Nice in May.

The think tank approach will ensure the commercial offering creates the biggest benefits for all – use cases that have been prioritized by the target customers and solutions that are replicable across cities and verticals.

The services themselves should offer even wider benefits too, as in their work so far the team has focused on “how different vertical domains can be interconnected into a seamless service bundle that has direct impact on our quality of life, while reducing our carbon footprint.”

Thomas Kruse, Senior Policy Maker on Smart Cities, City of Utrecht, says, “I’ve joined today’s think tank because as a city we’ve got some challenges we need smart solutions for. TM Forum is a network of specialists who can help us with these challenges. Here at the Think Tank it is nice to meet other cities who are struggling with the same kind of things and it’s good to get a common understanding of them and try to create solutions that are replicable.”

Pascale Pecha, head of business development for Team Côte d’Azur, the government agency for economic development of that part of France, says, “I’m here because it’s very important for us to share the vision of the smart city and to share visions with the others so that hopefully we can find a solution that will fit everyone because we are not going to reinvent the wheel. There are already things that exist and we need to share solutions that have been implemented. That is the only way to get good services.”

Get real

This incubator approach exemplifies the importance of ecosystem collaboration through mechanisms such as TM Forum’s Catalyst program and Action Week events, to enable proof-of-concepts to ‘get real’ and focus around real-life conditions and concrete solutions and opportunities. It’s hard to think of many other arenas where telcos, vendors and city leaders would be able to co-create, co-design and rapidly prototype in this way.

James Noakes, a City Councellor from Liverpool in the UK, says, “I’m the mayoral lead for energy and smart city. Coming here to sit down and discuss issues with people face to face, rather than over the phone, is a much better way of engaging and also understanding what motivates other people and to see if there are common understandings that we can learn from as well.”

Get a better insight into the Think Tank in this video and hear more from Christian and representatives of cities from the Nice (Côte d’Azure, France, Cascais (Lisbon, Portugal), Liverpool (UK), Porto Portugal), Saint-Quentin (France) and Utrecht (the Netherlands). The other cities represented at this inaugural Think Tank are Tokyo (Japan) and Zaragoza (Spain).

Closing the gap – and why it matters

As Carl Piva, Vice President, Strategic Programs, TM Forum, comments “We are starting to see some very concrete steps being taken in bridging the gap between our broader telco and ICT community and cities around the world. Why is this important? Because city leaders need to be on top of the massive rollout of the Internet of Things, 5G and other emerging trends in their city environments.”

How we got to now

Previous iterations of the Catalyst have examined:

  • the automatic activation of physical devices (energy, security, temperature control, etc.) based on the location and movement of the customer/citizen, demonstrating how users can easily see the carbon impact of their actions. Read more
  • monitoring home devices, specifically addressing the issues of security and privacy that arise from their usage in potentially unsecured environments like home Wi-Fi networks and the business case around them. Read more


    About The Author

    Snr Director, Research & Media

    Annie Turner has been researching and writing about the communications industry since the 1980s, editing magazines dedicated to the subject including titles published by Thomson International and The Economist Group. She has contributed articles to many publications, including national and international newspapers such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, and a multitude of business-to-business titles. She joined the TM Forum in 2010 and is responsible for overseeing the content of the Research and Publications portfolio.

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