Spent the day with noneless than Pablo Ettinger, the co-founder of Caffè Nero. He grew the famous coffee chain into a >£100m business. We talked about my company Moving Beans and the challenges around selling coffee and being sustainable. But we also talked about music. Yes! Pablo is actually a musician, a pianist, like me. This is the reason you hear amazing classical music when sitting in at Caffè Nero. He is now supporting emerging artists. Truly inspiring!
Great day out with Marco Bizzarri, the CEO of Gucci. Really intelligent and forward-looking CEO, exploring next generation technologies which could give his industry an edge. One of the few looking beyond his own industry vertical, and a fantastic person too!
Did this just happen? I won the “21st Century Icon Award” for global contributions to technology and the arts. I did not expect this, but am very happy – no doubt :). Here, with incredibly talented painter artist Yuliya Zelinskaya.
At King’s, we did the world’s first 5G concert. Whilst networked performances had been done before, it was the first time that a “commodity” system was used which everybody has access to. I was playing the piano in Berlin under the Brandenburger Tor, whilst my daughter Noa was singing in London in the Guildhall. The latency was just under 20ms and gave us a complete feeling of immediacy. What an emotional night that was! We have discussed the challenges in a 2020 TEDx talk.
I launched my 5th album “Stories From Another World” in Los Angeles today, with my record label. And we did it in style! Playing in front of 4,000 people. I cannot deny that I was very, very nervous but it went all well! For many years, I had stage fright and the best way to overcome it was, I thought, by going big. That was my largest piano performance. Ever!
I couldn’t believe that news. I was just elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. All the hard work over past years to evangelize technology into the arts and pushing for co-design technology/arts has paid off, not to mention my music compositions. I am very happy and proud to be part of one of the most creative group of people on the planet.
I just met the Latvian President. Humble and approachable, a man of the people. He invited me to speak in front of a large government crowd about innovation and the changing innovation cycles. The video of that talk is below.
Approved by the French government, INSA Lyon awarded me the prestigious Doctor Honoris Causa on Thursday 18 June 2015. This is an immense privilege and honour, and I am proud to represent King’s College London at this occasion. The awards ceremony was a mix of formal and informal talks, accompanied by a lecture I gave on disruptive technologies and the next tech frontier.
This was maybe the most exciting Mobile World Congress (MWC) I have ever witnessed. And if my predictions hold true, it is only to get better. It wasn’t anymore about boring boxes of cellular tower hardware. It was all about software, startups and innovation, new handsets with sexy features, and over-the-top applications for both consumers and industries. We are clearly seeing a fundamental shift on how the telco industry ticks – and that is very timely! The first disruption is internal to the industry: 2015 is the year where we are truly going software. The implications are that we are now able to reconfigure the telco operations of an entire country from a single software script, e.g. over a cup of coffee in the morning. This means, capacity requirements can be addressed on the fly without needing to send in engineering staff. You guessed it, today’s large operational costs are thus minimized. The second disruption is external to the industry: Having softwarized the telco operations makes it much easier to address the (often capricious) needs of industries; this MWC thus featured a huge amount of industrial applications, ranging from a connected car to tactile excavator (yes, I am talking about a mobile congress here!). The softwarization, however, also ensured that innovation becomes so much more affordable; the congress was swamped with startups and young industries – innovators and investors alike suddenly started to feel that the huge telecom opportunity is actually addressable, no matter the size. All that buzz leaves me wondering when the MWC will be the same as CES – 2020? But it gets event better! Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg stated in his VIP keynote: “Telecom in the 90s was manufacturer driven, in the 2000s operator driven, and now vertical industry driven.” With 3G, we figured out that selling hardware boxes is maybe not all we can do with the cellular opportunity; with 4G, we thus focused on offering services to optimize the cellular experience. I am happy, however, that we have finally realized what every decent Internet entrepreneur could have told us some years back: The true value is in offering a compelling solution which addresses a real problem in industries. As Scania’s CEO Martin Lundstedt has said, “this suddenly transforms the expensive telecoms equipment from being costly to being valuable.” The projected transition towards the digital data value chain will take a while, however. Until then, Mark Zuckerberg will continue flying into Barcelona every year, drink his champaign on the keynote stage, and fly back … without having left a paycheck to improve the underlying infrastructure which actually enables his business.
Off I am to keynote and panel at one of the world’s largest tech events which is happening in Barcelona this week – the Mobile World Congress (MWC). Over the years, it has transformed from being a pure telecoms playing ground to a show of innovation, rivaling CeBIT (Germany) and CES/CTIA (US). I am so happy to go back to the city where I spent 5 wonderful years of my life, and meet friends and colleagues. I will keep you updated on some of the most exciting developments at the event …
… what a Mobile World Congress that was! The best I have attended in years! There is a real buzz and excitement going on in the community, some of which I tried to capture in my subsequent opinion blog. I was involved in an amazing panel organized by the UKTI and the Future Cities Catapult on the “Industrial Internet of Things”. And I (as the only academic throughout the event) was on the main MWC stage for a 5G panel with the CTO of Ericsson, CSO of Huawei, Director of 3GPP, and Director of the ITU, and other luminosities. The room was burstingly full! The other highlight for me was to stand next to the world’s first 5G working system, designed by Ericsson – amazing!