Thursday, April 24th 2014


AT&T’s Networks Guru Talks Cloud Technology and Wireless

RinneKrisAT&T

Kris Rinne is Senior Vice President of Network Technologies at AT&T Labs. AT&T has more than 90,000 women working in various capacities all across the globe. But few, if any, are as influential as Rinne. She is responsible for AT&T’s vast network architecture, platforms and performance, plus its radio access roadmap, wireless device requirements, and vendor selection. Previously, she served as Chief Technology Officer for Cingular, the wireless juggernaut created through a joint venture by AT&T and Bell South. Over all, she has more than 30 years experience in the telecom industry, which started when she switched her career aspirations from teaching math to a job working at Bell South.

At heart, Rinne is a down-to-earth Midwestern girl who remains as refreshingly approachable as any big-time exec could be. I was at the ceremony last Fall in San Jose, for instance, where the Wireless History Foundation inducted her into the Wireless Hall of Fame. With AT&T Mobility’s CEO Ralph de la Vega present and a host of other industry stalwarts, Rinne, the only woman among four inductees, was exceedingly humble when accepting her recognition. She might not like to say it, but if you want to know what’s new and cutting edge at AT&T and across the wireless industry, ask Kris Rinne.

It was also late last year that AT&T announced it would begin remodeling its network, tossing out old legacy telecom gear and replacing it with a plethora of smaller but powerful software-driven servers. The goal, dubbed Domain 2.0, is to transform AT&T’s network into a spiffy new data center.

To accomplish that, AT&T plans to open up its network to new software vendors and new ideas from the likes of Silicon Valley engineers and even University researchers. Traditional telecom networks aren’t adaptable, they’re hard to scale up and they aren’t as cost-effective as they could be. Rinne acknowledges that such a network revamp won’t be easy for AT&T, but she and the company are committed to the rebuild in order to remain relevant in the future.

Here are edited excerpts from Rinne’s answers to five questions about AT&T’s business and the wireless world in general. (more…)

Wireless Technology of the Future is Smart and Wearable

IronMan Suit

We are on the cusp of a new technology tipping point. The smartphone era will soon give way to a “wearables” world. We’ll depend on wearable smart-watches, eye glasses, rings, pins, badges (and who knows what other kinds of Iron-Man-esque gear) more than the phones we habitually slide into our pockets and purses today.

After all, despite its intelligence and convenience, the smartphone still causes us some in-convenience: the act of retrieving it from our pocket, swiping and tapping the screen to unveil a desired app, the need to look at the screen to absorb the information. These things pull us away from whatever else we’re doing — in the car, in business meetings, at restaurants. Wearables, however, offer a more seamless digital experience. They allow us to absorb information without being distracted from what we’re focusing on at the time.

According to former Georgia Institute of Technology professor Thad Starner, who is now the director of Google’s Contextual Computing Group and a Technical Lead on Project Glass, if you can’t get to a tool within two seconds your use for it goes down exponentially. Smartphones, often packed away as they are, have trouble meeting that two-second standard. But wearables offer instant access. (more…)

Gear Up With The Coolest New Wireless Devices

gadgets

 

We are nothing if we aren’t wireless these days. Our mobile phones serve as mini computers, jukeboxes, bank tellers … you name it. We can’t do much, personally or professionally, without our mobile technology. Here’s a glimpse at some of the coolest stuff coming to market — by Samsung, Apple, Google and Motorola Solutions — to help you live and work more efficiently:

Samsung Galaxy S5
Move over Apple, Samsung’s handsets have become the hottest and most innovative mobile phones on the market. The Galaxy S5, expected in a few months, updates an already way-cool product. Much of the improvement is packed into the camera. It boasts a 16-megapixel sensor, a step up from the Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel version. Furthermore, it features a 0.3-second shot speed — finger-snap fast. Another cool addition is what Samsung calls “Selective Focus”, which lets you snap a shot and then re-select a focal point later. Also, an HDR Live mode is included, which conveniently allows you to see how HDR could alter a shot before you take it. Meanwhile, the video capabilities have been improved to allow 4K quality. And, as if to not let Apple get any momentum on the creativity front, Samsung added a fingerprint scanner and embedded it in the Home key, much like Apple iPhone 5s’ fingerprint feature.

iPhone 6
The folks at Apple don’t intend to eat Samsung’s dust for long.  According to analysts in China, the upcoming iPhone 6 will catapult the iPhone into the big screen space. Expect the 6 to have at least a 4.7-inch, scintillating 1,136-pixel-by-640 pixel display — up from the current 4-inch screen size. Some insiders are predicting a screen anywhere from 5.7 inches to 6 inches in size, and boasting a 1920 pixel-by-1080 pixel display. Youza! The overall size of the phone will be bigger, but it will also be considerably sleeker. Among other goodies, the 6 should include an improved 13-16 megapixel camera that rivals Samsung’s. Look for Apple to debut its latest iPhone this Fall. (more…)

Video: Three Simple But Sure-Fire Ways to Spark Innovation

Welcome to my video blog on business, leadership and diversity.

To check it out, click the video below.

To read the transcript, click here. (more…)

Video: People Management Lacking in Top Leaders

Welcome to my video blog on business, leadership and diversity.

To check it out, click the video below.

To read the transcript, click here. (more…)

Business: Obamacare’s Glitches Will Soon Fade

US-POLITICS-ECONOMY-BUDGET-HEALTH

A wise business associate once reminded me, while I was wrestling with a rather large and onerous work-related issue of my own, that nothing truly worth doing comes easily. And so it is with healthcare reform. As President Obama wrestles with the bungled launch of Healthcare.gov, the web-based exchange for the Affordable Care Act, we should remind ourselves that it was bound to come with difficulty. For it is something truly worth doing.

Of course, the President should be embarrassed over the sloppy rollout. In fact, he should be furious. And insiders confirm that, in private, he is absolutely fuming. The dysfunctional website serves as a gateway to the new Obamacare insurance marketplace for consumers in 36 states. Health policy experts say that if the website isn’t fixed by mid-November, it could mean relatively few people will enroll, leaving the new private insurance marketplace with pronounced limp.

So, with his plan on the line, the President gave a strident defense of his signature health care law Wednesday, October 30, in Boston, returning to the intellectual birthplace of the legislation. “Yes, this is hard,” he explained. “The health care system’s a big system, and it’s complicated,” Obama said at Faneuil Hall. “If it was hard doing it just in one state (Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney instituted a similar law), it’s hard doing it in 50 states—especially when the governors of a bunch of states, and half of Congress, don’t want to help.”

Then came this simple but inalienable truth: “But it’s important!” the President added, as he pounded on the podium. (more…)

Business: NFL Players Chief Shares Realities of Pro Football

demaurice-smith-high5 (1)

Reported and transcribed by Sherry Clayton

DeMaurice (“De”) Smith is the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the union for professional players in the National Football League (NFL). Under Smith’s leadership, the NFL players negotiated a historic 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with NFL owners in August 2011. The new CBA achieves unprecedented benefits for players, including new health and safety protocols in effect throughout the season and into retirement, the first compliance and accountability structure for NFL medical personnel, and the players’ highest share of TV contract revenues in history. Prior to his work with the NFLPA, Smith was a trial lawyer and litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. offices of influential law firms Latham & Watkins and Patton Boggs. In the courtroom, he prosecuted scores of cases for several Fortune 500 companies. Before his tenure in the private sector, Smith served as Counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder (now United States Attorney General) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, October 2, 2013, Smith made time for a special visit to the Metropolitan Club of Chicago to join Roger Crockett for an early morning fireside chat in the Club’s Oak Room on the 66th floor of the Willis Tower. The conversation was the latest in the Met Club’s “Executive Speaker Series” sponsored by Heidrick & Struggles. The Series features discussions with prominent executives to give attendees an insider’s look at a particular business. After a breakfast of bacon and eggs, fresh fruit, and hot coffee, an estimated 75 executive guests enjoyed the discussion about doing business with the world’s richest sports league, issues of player health and safety, and stereotypes of the modern NFL player. Here is an edited transcript of Smith’s responses to five major topics of inquiry:

1.) Crockett: Why do you spend so much time traversing the country to visit teams and meet with players?

Smith: I really believe that we at the NFLPA are simply an extension of the organized labor movement, the civil rights movement and the battle for human rights. We find ourselves in that never-ending line of organizations of people who get together, bind together and support each other to further and protect themselves. I love every minute of the NFL experience, but the fact is that only 2,000 people are lucky enough to play this game every year, and the injury rate is 100%. Last year, we had 4,500 injuries. This year also marks the shortest average career length in NFL history at 3.1 years. So, we fight tooth and nail over the benefits that players will need after their football career is over. That’s why our union exists, and that’s why we make the stands that we make.

Sometimes our actions are unpopular. For instance, every coach resents that we took away the two-a-days (two padded practices in a single day). For those of us who played football in high school or college, when we hear “two-a-day” it sends that shiver up our spine and we would rather crush up glass and swallow it than go through two-a-days. But two-a-days no longer exist in the National Football League because it is unnecessary, and statistically it exposed our players to an increased risk of injury. So, when we can figure out ways for our players to work smarter, suffer fewer injuries, enjoy a longer career and require less joint replacements, that’s being smart about the workplace of football. (more…)

Video: Driving Business Results Means Applying Diversity

Welcome to my video blog on business, leadership and diversity

To check it out, click the video below

To read the transcript, click here (more…)

The Corner Office: Shifting Strategy Demands A Great Team

Martin “Marty” H. Singer is Chairman and CEO of PCTEL, which develops antenna, scanning and other solutions for wireless networks.  Before PCTEL, Singer served as President and CEO of SAFCO Technologies, another wireless communications company.  He was also a Vice President and General Manager at Motorola and held senior management and technical positions at Tellabs, AT&T and Bell Labs.  With a Vanderbilt Ph.D in experimental psychology, Singer is a trained thinker.  He will share this space with other distinguished executive thinkers, who will offer occasional musings from “the corner office.”

By Marty Singer

During the late 1990s, PCTEL’s founders thought they could reduce the cost of Internet access by reducing the cost of an analog modem. In 1997, a standalone 56 Kbps analog modem cost about $250. The PCTEL embedded software modem debuted at just $27. By 2000, a year after going public, the stock price soared to nearly $100 per share. Then, just as quickly, things changed. In 2001 the PCTEL rocket ship fell back to earth. Competition was fierce, prices fell dramatically, and there was widespread patent infringement. By late 2001, PCTEL’s soft modem sold for $3.40 and the company’s revenue fell from $100 million in 2000 to $40 million, with losses of over $55 million (GAAP accounting).

Major competitors, such as Broadcom, Intel, Agere, Conexant, and Silicon Labs all had modem products. The terrible experience of tumbling prices was tragically punctuated by the 9-11 disaster. Then, in late October, I took on the job of CEO and faced the reality of a $4 million revenue quarter and staggering losses. The executive team was costing the company nearly $3 million in compensation, the company had engaged in poor business practices (e.g., option grants to key customers), and the headcount levels were unsustainable. Prices continued to fall and we were in patent disputes with everyone in the industry.

It was time to change the game. (more…)

Business: Real Estate Investment Mogul Dissects the Markets

Quintin Primo is Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Capri Capital Partners, a real estate investment management firm headquartered in Chicago. The firm has approximately $3.7 billion in total real estate assets under management, and is an active investor in a variety of major property sectors and markets throughout the United States. Significantly, Primo is also a “global guy,” as I call him, who was among the first to explore real estate investment opportunities in the Middle East and Africa—regions he has come to thoroughly understand economically, culturally, and socially. Overall, he has nearly 30 years of real estate investment experience. Prior to the formation of Capri Capital, Primo was Managing Director of Q. Primo & Company, Inc., a real estate investment banking firm specializing in foreign and domestic private placements. And before launching his own firm, he worked as a vice president for Citicorp Real Estate, Inc. Outside of real estate, Primo, along with other Chicago black entrepreneurs, helped catapult President Barack Obama’s political rise. And he is passionate about serving the world’s under-served women and children.

As we sat down for lunch at the Metropolitan Club on the 67th floor of Chicago’s Willis Tower, we both admired the expansive view of the city. I caught Primo smiling as he surveyed the landscape from up-high, recalling the various real estate deals he has been involved in with several of the towering buildings in the distance. Finally, he pointed to one skyscraper on the northern edge of the city’s center: “In a few weeks we’ll be announcing a $140 million investment deal in that building!” he beamed proudly. Business is good for Primo right now. But it’s been a long ride back from the economic downturn that earlier plagued his firm and virtually every other financial services company. So, to get perspective on the current state of the economy, I asked Primo five questions about the markets, the U.S. and global economies, and about President Obama’s role in the recovery. Here is an edited transcript:

1. Many say that the real estate markets have recovered. How would you assess the state of the commercial and residential real estate markets?

Primo: In general the real estate markets are recovered. There still is an amazing amount of liquidity sloshing around in the system seeking yield. Interest rates continue to be at record lows causing investors to seek risk-based assets. Real estate as an alternative investment asset is offering higher yields and higher returns than traditional bond investments. The U.S. real estate market is considered one of, if not the best market to invest in in the world right now. It is large. It has great depth. But this has caused valuations to get ahead of fundamentals. It is the hope of the Federal Reserve Bank that with a growing economy over the next two to three-plus years fundamentals will catch up with valuations. If that doesn’t happen the reverse is not a pretty picture. So therein lies the risk in investing in real estate markets. (more…)