Social distancing requires great agility, especially in the events industry! Orange Silicon Valley has therefore adapted to put on the first virtual Hello Show with all of its usual conferences, debates, insights into the latest trends and start-up demos moving online. We look back over the three-day event dedicated to the future innovation with Mireille Helou, CEO of Orange Silicon Valley.
What is unique about the USA innovation ecosystem and how is Orange Silicon Valley part of it?
Mireille Helou : The American innovation ecosystem is characterised by an abundance of private capital that allows for massive fundraising, a strong acceptance of risk, a leading university system, multiple skills from around the world and a large market, which is critical. We’ve been part of this environment for more than 20 years and act as a pioneer for the Group by being its local eyes and ears to decode new trends and their disruptive potential.
We work to form connections between different ecosystems, cultures and universes. We participate in and organise events and conferences on site to meet innovative start-ups and leverage their added value. Proximity is essential to start lasting partnerships!
Due to the health crisis, a lot of events have been postponed or cancelled. What are the results of your first fully virtual Hello Show?
M.H. : We usually organize one or two large customer events a year at our offices in San Francisco. This year, our ambition was to offer a flagship event in which the Orange Executive Committee could also participate. The health crisis decided otherwise, we however didn’t allow this to halt us in our plans and thus decided to take the challenge of organizing a virtual event. This allowed us not only to “welcome” customers from all over the world but also bring together speakers who joined from their home or office in France, the United States; New York,Wyoming andthe Silicon Valley, but also China and Israel. Among them, Orange Chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard joined us for the launch. Several members of the Executive Committee also spoke during the Hello Show: Hugues Foulon on cybersecurity, Helmut Reisinger on co-innovation with our customers and Michael Trabbia on overall innovation with a focus on 5G.
The agenda was very rich: the first day was devoted to major economic and technological trends in the context of the pandemic, the second focused on major innovations in various activity sectors (Smart Ecosystems, cybersecurity, industry 4.0, etc.). Finally, we also looked at the subjects of digital transformation, the future job market and robotics on the last day.
This virtual show was a real success: more than 975 people registered, , and more than 590 people connected over the three days. All of our teams can be extremely proud of this result!
Can you give us a few examples of the demos presented by Orange’s partners in the US?
M.H. : I can quote a few start-ups including Helium, which uses blockchain to build a decentralised IoT network – a fairly disruptive model compared to typical network deployment. Likewise, Croquet.io presented its edge computing technology, which offers extremely low latency for communication between connected devices. This has endless usage possibilities, for example new interactive experiences for interactive advertising and collaboration tools.
What are the key takeaways from the show, both about the event itself and in terms of new trends?
M.H. : First of all, the great teamwork, agility and creativity of our teams in organising the event. It’s worth mentioning that this “Hello Show” is not an end in itself but part of an ongoing conversation on innovation and digital transformation that we have our business customers. The central theme was of course digital acceleration induced by the pandemic, with the responsible use of technology as a common thread: artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and remote operations, the role networks and particularly 5G play … In addition, blockchain and cybersecurity both have a key role in supporting a world that switched to digital pretty much overnight.
Can you share some examples of how we’re collaborating with start-ups? How do you see future synergies and more broadly the future of Orange Silicon Valley taking shape?
M.H. : There are a few projects that we’re really proud of, notably the use of facial recognition with Vision Labs (opens in a new window) to enable access control, a project developed in collaboration with Orange Business Services. Together with CocoLink (opens in a new window) and Nvidia (opens in a new window), we’ve developed a way to use seismic data for natural resource exploration for oil and gas companies. And in the same vein, with Vital Enterprises, we’re working on virtual reality industrial applications with a mining company.
More than ever, we have to remember that innovation requires collaboration, listening and continuous learning. Technology and innovation are essential drivers for progress and transformation. At Orange Silicon Valley, in San Francisco and in our new office in New York, we are pursuing our goal of making innovation more visible, accessible and actionable for Orange and its customers. In the most dynamic valley in the world, the field of possibilities is immense!