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Let’s celebrate failure in Europe!

That was one of the key themes discussed during today’s “Internet of Everything – What’s in it for Europe event” in Brussels, with MEP Kaja Kallas asking the audience to consider a change in innovation culture to capture the predicted 4.3 trillion that the IoE could generate in value in Europe. Kallas coined the EU attitude to a fear of failure and failing fast compared to the US with “Silicon Valley innovates, DC litigates and Brussels investigates”.

4.3 trillion is a big number, but we think its on the conservative side based on our engagement with public and private sectors around the world. Digital disruption fuelled by the Internet of Everything is redefining industries, cities, countries at an unprecedented rate and promises productivity and economic gains with 1.4% increase in annual GDP and with 1 million new jobs created over ten years.

Michael Hager, Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Oettinger, echoed Kallas’ sentiment on the courageousness required to capture the IoE opportunities, leveraging the Alliance for IoT Innovation (AIOTI) and the Digital Single Market (DSM) to look beyond national borders to a European and international approach. Engaging cross-sectoral collaboration and getting privacy, security and connectivity right will be key enablers.

I was struck by how much in common an enterprise like Bosch, start up AirCloak and the City of Copenhagen had – all touched on the need for vision to breakdown siloed use cases, using concrete demonstrations to illustrate value, to tackle privacy and security issues head-on and the need for education initiatives to accelerate digitisation.

So yes we can celebrate failure in Europe but we can’t afford for the policy environment to be the reason we fail. Fostering the right policy environment means getting it right on issues as diverse as an adaptable data protection framework, a partnership-based security model and the development of an IoE-savvy workforce. The Digital Single Market will bring many elements that will help take us forward, but we need more Member States to complement these efforts by putting digitisation front and centre of their accelerated national digital agendas and municipalities to embrace the opportunities.

Please click here for more information on the opportunity that digitisation fuelled by the Internet of Everything enables.

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Video to Video Communication is the Future

In the past decade video communications has moved out of the realm of science fiction to become commonplace in our homes, at work, and on mobile devices. Yet we remain some distance from the goal of video calls being as easy and ubiquitous as phone calls are today – across any network and between all devices.

Imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others.  Cisco wants to avoid this future for video communications, and therefore today appealed the European Commission’s approval of the Microsoft/Skype merger to the General Court of the European Union.  Messagenet, a European VoIP service provider, has joined us in the appeal.

We did not take this action lightly. We respect the European Commission, and value Microsoft as a customer, supplier, partner, and competitor. Cisco does not oppose the merger, but believes the European Commission should have placed conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability, to avoid any one company from being able to seek to control the future of video communications.

This appeal is about one thing only: securing standards-based interoperability in the video calling space. Our goal is to make video calling as easy and seamless as  email is today. Making a video-to-video call should be as easy as dialing a phone number. Today, however, you can’t make seamless video calls from one platform to another, much to the frustration of consumers and business users alike.

Cisco believes that the right approach for the industry is to rally around open standards. We believe standards-based interoperability will accelerate innovation, create economic value, and increase choice for users of video communications, entertainment, and services.

The video communications industry is at a critical tipping point with far reaching consequences. Just three years from now the world will be home to nearly 3 billion Internet users, the average fixed broadband speed will be 28 Mbps, and 1 million video minutes (the equivalent of 674 days) will traverse the internet every second. As video collaboration becomes increasingly mainstream, multiple vendors will have to work together to enable global scale and broad customer choice.

For the sake of customers, the industry recognizes the need for ubiquitous unified communications interoperability, particularly between Microsoft/Skype and Cisco products, as well as products from other unified communications innovators. Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.

At the heart of this opportunity is a question about the model for interoperability. One approach allows each vendor to decide how they will interoperate. Another approach aligns the industry around open standards defined by non-partisan governing bodies. The answer will be critical to whether and how quickly video calls become “the next voice.”

When vendors implement their own protocols and selectively interoperate, they push the burden of interoperability to the customer.  We respectfully request that the General Court act on our concerns and for the European Commission to ensure the proper protections are put in place to encourage innovation and a competitive marketplace.


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