Darren Gore Darren Gore
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Telstra Vantage 2017

Telstra Vantage 2017 was a hit like all previous years! With 6,900+ customers at the conference, its purpose was to bring together technology solutions, partners and businesses together in a hope that technology innovation will lead to business productivity and growth.

Calibre One had the privilege of being able to send Hayley Imlay and myself from the Northern Territory team to attend the event and mix with over 60 customers from its South Australian, Northern Territory and Far North Queensland client base.

Meeting up with our NT Customers at the conference

 

Enjoying dinner with our Cairns customers

The conference kicked off on Wednesday morning with a keynote from Andy Penn, CEO of Telstra, sharing his own story of the changes in economy, competition in the market and the changing world with NBN and how challenges like these are challenging all businesses in today’s world. Andy made a point of noting the investment commitment Telstra made last year of $3bn and how it will support a new and changing world as we move forward. One noteworthy subject during this keynote was the Internet of Things (IoT) where any and all devices being made in future like washing machines, drones and cars are all developed so they can connect to the internet, Telstra switched on their new IoT network last month.

 

New Product Announcement

At the conference, Telstra took the opportunity to launch an exciting new product that had been in the works for the past year called Telstra Liberate. In summary, Liberate allows customers to present their fixed line number when dialling out from their mobile. It has integrated Telstra fixed line and mobile channels at a network layer rather than having to use an app like all current solutions. The new Liberate product now allows customers to operate a full PBX phone system from a fleet of mobiles without any other hardware requirement needs. See the full story at CRN.

While at the conference, we noted some interesting technologies on show. We have summarised four of the technologies we thought were the most interesting this year below.

 

Microsoft Surface Studio

Microsoft at the front of its stand was showing off its most recent device release, The Surface Studio. It comes with a 28-inch PixelSense Display (which is the thinnest LCD monitor of its size), featuring 13.5 million pixels at 192 PPI. There’s True Scale and individually colour-calibrated TrueColor. There’s a 1100:1 contrast ratio and a wide colour-gamut display that switches between sRGB, Vivid (P3-D65) and DCI-P3 – which Microsoft boasts delivers “more colour than 99 per cent of the world’s desktop monitors”. I must say, it’s a very sexy looking device, however an expensive price tag with RRP starting just shy of $3,000.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

With a lot of continued buzz around Amazon, AWS made a show to the event featuring its Facial Recognition platform Amazon Rekognition. It is a service that makes it easy to add image analysis to your applications. With Rekognition, you can detect objects, scenes, faces, recognize celebrities, and identify inappropriate content in images. I had the opportunity to see who Hayley’s celebrity look alike was using the technology, it gave a 80.9% match to Lili Sepe.

Amazon states that the practical applications of this technology span many industries. Citing an example of where this technology is used in police patrol units with police uniforms coming with small wearable cameras expanding the eyes of police force to identify people and crime faster than ever before.

IBM

There has been a lot of chat about Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the conference this year, IBM had on demonstration IBM Watson, a supercomputer that combines AI and sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a “question answering” machine. The IBM team demonstrated to us the virtual bot which integrates with online chat environments on websites or via contact centres to cut down significant time in finding answers to questions. An interesting product to watch as it develops in future.

Infosys

The team at Infosys talked us through their use of Virtual Reality equipment HTC VIVE with which they have created a tennis and retail store experience. They explained their software AI platform for enterprises “Infosys Nia“ with the help of which they are churning out some great insights, through data analytics, to players and how they can improve their game. The view is to re-imagine the sport and bring new, innovative technology to excite and inform the billion fans, the players, the staff and every stakeholder in tennis. Both myself and Hayley had the opportunity to get a game with a virtual Roger Federer, unfortunately both of us are terrible Tennis players and likely made fools of ourselves.

 

A theme of security concerns

Talking with many of our customers this year, as well as the vendors and other partners at the conference, it was interesting to note that a key concern on many customers’ minds was security. Many customers are acknowledging that the internet of things where we are now connecting many, many devices to the internet is exciting as it presents many commercial opportunities. However, many acknowledge the flip side to this is a lack of regulation and standardisation around security protocols in the industry. There was a strong bent this year towards security and the place it plays in today’s world. It was great to see many of the vendors such as Fortinet and Cisco show casing their capability to combat this problem and hear about the technologies at play.

 

Final thoughts

Finally, the two-day event ended with the final key note given by Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist. He talked around the subject of motivation and productivity within the workforce.

Another successful year at the Telstra Vantage conference. I recommend that the next conference to follow is the Microsoft Summit, which is coming up on 14-17 of November in Sydney. Definitely watch this space.