Blaise Judja-Sato, executive manager, ITU Telecom, tells CommsMEA about the upcoming ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai and what the organisation hopes to achieve.
CommsMEA: What is the overall purpose of the event?
Blaise Judja-Sato: The ITU industry is currently undergoing a radical transformation. Understanding this transformation, and its implications, opportunities and challenges for both ICTs and the world we live in, is critical for success across all industry sectors, not just ICTs.
As the leading platform for the global ICT community to debate, share knowledge and network, ITU Telecom World 2012 provides an ideal forum to create awareness of both the transformation and its impact. Drawing on its unique reach as the lead UN agency for ICT issues, ITU can assemble a mix of public and private sector stakeholders like no other event of its kind.
We have heads of state, ministers, heads of international agencies, CEOs, regulators, consultants, academics, high-level representatives of every part of the ICT ecosystem. And this is an ecosystem, and therefore a delegate base, that is growing in many, often new, directions as the ICT industry develops: service providers, manufacturers, network providers, but also content and application producers, OTT players, broadcasters and entirely new sectors such as finance or energy. So the main purpose of the event is to create awareness of the new realities of an industry in transformation, and to explore the opportunities, and threats, it is creating.
We aim to do this both through a serious agenda of panel sessions, workshops and debates, and through the networking opportunities provided by structured and unstructured social occasions, the shared experience of the showfloor, meetings and informal discussions.
CommsMEA: What are the most important issues to be addressed?
Blaise Judja-Sato: The transformation currently taking place across the ICT industry is driven by a number of game changers: megatrends such as ageing populations and the displacement of economic power from West to East, the emergence of new players as industry dynamics shift, and a plethora of new technologies.
It is vital that we understand the nature of this transformation and what it means for different stakeholders within the ICT sector. There are tremendous opportunities to be exploited, including convergence technologies, the benefits of cloud computing and the applications of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology in fields as diverse as education, banking, health, transport and energy.
There is enormous potential to ramp up socio-economic development across emerging and developed markets. But there are also challenges: establishing new business models and revenue streams, facing the increasingly global threat to cybersecurity, and, above all, recognising that we could be in danger of losing the fair, open and interoperable communications system we have striven as an industry, hand-in-hand with ITU, to build. These are very real and important issues.
We believe ITU Telecom World 2012 provides a critical forum to address them, both at the event in Dubai and by enabling the debates, perspectives and connections to continue to bear fruit through our online platform.
CommsMEA: How many participants do you expect to attend the event?
Blaise Judja-Sato: Following the successful format adopted at last year›s event in Geneva, our focus is on achieving the right mix of participants and speakers at the right level, debating the right topics, rather than the large-scale, showfloor-based style of earlier telecom events. We look forward to welcoming over 5000 total participants onsite including 300 high-level participants to the leadership summit alone which include heads of state, government, ministers, CEOs, heads of international agencies and digital thought leaders.
The conference itself counts over 200 speakers, drawn from all sectors of the industry, with an additional global audience of several thousand joining the debates live online through webcast sessions and continuing the conversation on our portal; showcasing regional talent and the latest technology on the showfloor will be around 20 national pavilions plus showcases from our event partners, sponsors and supporters.
These include major ICT names such as Alcatel-Lucent, China Mobile, Cisco, Ericsson, Etisalat, Huawei, Intel, Kaspersky, NTT Group, Mitsubishi, Qtel, Qualcomm, Verizon, and ZTE, and countries such as Gabon, Uganda and the UAE. It also includes consultancies and international organisations including McKinsey, Ersnt & Young and the World Health Organization (WHO) – a broad base that reflects our audience. We will also benefit this year from our proximity to GITEX, the leading regional ICT event, which is running parallel to World 2012 and will enable considerable delegate crossover.
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CommsMEA: How important is cybersecurity and eHealth in the MEA region? What aspects of cybersecurity and ehealth do you hope to address during the event?
Blaise Judja-Sato: Cybersecurity and ehealth are two of the key topics that will be discussed at ITU Telecom World 2012. Both are issues of global importance, reflecting the opportunities and challenges arising from the transformed communication industry.
EHealth has the potential to save lives, reduce costs and bring healthcare to previously underserved or remote communities throughout the world - and is of particular relevance to the MEA region, where both developed and emerging markets are represented. Cybersecurity is increasingly threatened at individual, corporate, national and international levels across the globe; the focus of several recent major cyber attacks has been very much on Middle Eastern states, highlighting the dangers and complexities of cybercriminality at a regional level.
At World 2012, cybersecurity is the theme underlying a series of panel sessions by our event partner Kaspersky Lab, culminating in a speech from CEO and founder Eugene Kaspersky, who will present his vision of the growing risks of cybercriminality, including potential cyber warfare, and the importance of ensuring international cooperation in tackling this danger.
Similarly, eHealth is the focus of several sessions at the event, including a co-hosted debate with WHO on the use of mobile technology in combating non-communicable diseases; a panel discussion with event partner Verizon on the transformation of healthcare; a cross-sector debate with McKinsey on driving mass market adoption of eHealth applications; and a workshop co-hosted by Uganda on the need for interoperability and cooperation.
These are exciting debates which promise concrete conclusions and important announcements on future developments.
ITU Telecom World 2012 will take place from 14 to 18 October 2012 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC),Dubai, United Arab Emirates.