Bell’s Stephane Boisvert
Head of the firm's Enterprise Group outlines his strategies and goals. More than ever, he says, Canadian businesses are finding that effective collaboration is critical in creating value and competing in today's market.
November 1, 2007
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CNS: What is your strategy for the Bell Enterprise Group moving forward?
Boisvert: I came on board on Aug. 3, 2006 and one thing I quickly realized with the Bell Enterprise Group is that we have very strong assets. I also believe we have a superior connectivity play in the IP world in terms of data services and voice services.
When you look at the top three needs for our CIOs and large enterprise customers, key among them is being able to provide services to them that are core to serving the internal and external needs of their business.
CNS: You recently unveiled a collaboration initiative. What is it all about?
Boisvert: It involves a set of new applications that provide advanced communication capabilities for Canadian businesses, which are now faced with the growing demands of changing market dynamics.
When we look at collaboration and what we do, by working with software platform providers such as Microsoft where connectivity and software works together, we feel we can deliver a set of solutions and a portfolio that resonates with the marketplace.
We are going to work extremely hard at developing application remedies that connect all of the environments within a large enterprise.
It is all about how an organization provides access to employees and how does it communicate to its customers. Collaboration allows that to occur.
More than ever, businesses are finding that effective collaboration is critical in creating value and competing in today’s market.
CNS: You are the first company in Canada to achieve Cisco Powered Telepresence Connection Certification. What does this mean and how significant is this for your division?
Boisvert: It is quite significant. Achieving this certification for our IP VPN service-available nationally and globally shows that Bell is prepared to support the convergence of real-time voice, video and data. It also underlines that Bell networks can support the most demanding business applications our enterprise customers may have now and into the future.
CNS: Clearly, convergence is moving into the mainstream. What are your customers telling you when it comes to voice, video and data?
Boisvert: The underlying premise is for us to deliver services that leverage our connectivity prowess. If we ever go outside that premise you and everyone else should question the strategy. As the leader of this business unit, my aim is to make sure that we offer solutions and services that resonate with the enterprise market.
At the same time, it should leverage all the investments a customer is making in what I define as high-powered networks and all that sit on top of them.
As an example, when we look at the Voice over IP movement, I tell both my customers and members of the Bell Enterprise team that the business case is quite interesting at the start, but that once you have created the footprint, the CIO and even ourselves need to decide what role it will play within an enterprise. It is a platform that can receive many other applications on top of it besides voice.
This is where we will gain the benefit of being able to take some leadership position in the marketplace for our business in terms of using those technologies to deliver an experience to a customer or externally and also to our own employees.
This is also an area where we must also be careful for let’s face it, there is some technology that has the shelf life of a banana.
CNS: You launched Bell Security Solutions Inc. two years ago. How has that been received?
Boisvert: It has been well received. I would say it is becoming more and more a primary need for an organization. If you go back in time, security was defined in terms of access and identification and authentication.
When you bundle up all of your security needs, then it becomes more of a massive area of concern.
As an example, if you look at Secure Channel, we have the ability now to bring knowledge and expertise in areas ranging from security layers on the broadband to Public Key Infrastructure, which provides digital certificates and signatures used to authenticate citizens and businesses.
Developed by Bell and a consortium of industry partners, it insulates departments from technology changes, allows for interoperability with departmental programs and several levels of government, and ensures compliance with government-wide policies and guidelines. It also reduces risk of security and privacy breaches and generates service delivery efficiencies.
CNS: How would you define unified communications and how pervasive do you think it will become?
Boisvert: Everyone has their own definition, but for me it is the ability to share knowledge and share communications. You need to bring about new technology platforms or layers to really truly define unified communications. It is not about putting a bunch of legacy applications and putting duct tape around it. That is not very efficient.
That said, I firmly believe that it is going to take time to get there.
CNS: You recently deployed an RFID-enabled asset tracking system for CN. What sort of demand are you seeing for this and other wireless technologies among your customer base?
Boisvert: I have been tracking RFID projects since my days at Sun Microsystems. It can be used as a platform to solve a number of issues ranging from distribution of goods to tracking supply chain.
RFID networks are also getting less expensive to install and they should soon become more pervasive because there is such a strong business case for them.
We are going to get to the point where, for example, a customer who buys a toy that is part of a massive recall, will be informed first what factory it came from and secondly, whether it is free or not of ‘X” material. Another example is the beef industry and poultry industry in France and Germany. Both countries are currently using RFID technology to track where the actual produce is coming from.
In terms of wide deployment, I feel it is really just a matter of time.
CNS: How is the preparation for the Vancouver Olympics going?
Boisvert: It is a great collaboration between our team in Ottawa and the many different groups and agencies involved in putting on the Games. The amount of information that needs to be generated grows with every Olympics. You need to have an extreme structural approach to serve the information needs of millions of people
People are becoming precise in their needs. For example, if you follow downhill skiing, you want immediate information, be it about conditions on the hill or being able to instantly access the latest results, whether you are live at an event and have access to an information kiosk or you are at home thousands of miles away and logged on to the Internet.
CNS: Finally, what have been your biggest challenges since being appointed to the position in August 2006?
Boisvert: I do not see challenges I see opportunities. We decided when I came in to merge and transition all of the teams. I believe in the people we have, the intellectual and resource capital that we have and the investment we are making in our network. On the legacy side we have a good portion of the marketplace and on the IP side, there is a great deal of creativity behind it. My challenge is to educate the marketplace about what we do.
Of course, we are always in the shadow of Bell Mobility, because everyone has a cell phone. We are about broadband and data services. These are our core customer needs in the marketplace. It is up to us to deliver the goods through quality service and quality people and make sure they want to do business with Bell Enterprise.