Communications Sector Business Executive
"My work is to connect the dots between IBM Research and the Communications industry"
The Communications Sector covers the telecommunications, wireless, media and entertainment, utilities and digital media industries. The challenges in each industry are different, but in many cases related. Paul Bloom’s job is to help IBM Research’s work be relevant by making Research aware of industry issues and to help ensure that the industries are aware of what IBM Research has to offer.
In telecommunications, the focus is on the transformation from legacy systems to an on demand infrastructure, while supporting the convergence of voice, data and Internet. Paul is working with Research to develop methodologies to move data and infrastructure to new on demand platforms, while still meeting requirements for billing, provisioning and regulatory compliance. In the wireless area, he is looking to understand how Web services, voice recognition and multimodal digital media technologies can help in deploying new types of applications.
One of the areas that is very hot is radio-frequency identification tags (RFID). He is working with Research on how the data coming from RFIDs (that will be attached to nearly everything, including consumer goods, clothing, people and pets in the near future) will be managed. RFID tags will have numerous applications in many industries, either for tagging and tracking inventory, or as an important source of events and information that must be delivered and distributed to users in real time.
Likewise, sensor technology can be equally important as RFID. In addition to using sensors for automatic metering, sensors can be combined with control theory to develop algorithms to configure and balance, for example, an electrical grid – a problem that has become more interesting since the blackout in the Midwest in the summer of 2003. Paul is also making connections with IBM partners that work with the utility industry to apply the control theory work to their products. Finally, as a result of some matchmaking with researchers in optimization, utilities are beginning to look at using optimization to improve efficiency with the complexity of scheduling and dispatch of repair and installation workers.
According to Paul, bandwidth growth and content convergence are creating the potential to do for content what the Internet did for data – give it a platform for people to access it freely. There is no doubt that this would radically change the business models for the media and entertainment industry. Research is looking at content management, content protection, bandwidth optimization and quality of service and data mining methods that could support an environment where creation and access to content is open, private and secure.
Paul came to IBM from the telecommunications industry because he wanted to work with a company that was exploiting the use of Internet Protocol (IP) technology. Today he is fortunate to be in a position where he can see what IBM Research is doing and what is going on in the Communications Sector. Better yet, he is in a position to have an impact on businesses by connecting the dots between IBM Research and the communications industry.