Interview with Domenico Petrone, President Viasat Group
Mr. President, in recent years Viasat has been developing solutions that are increasingly oriented towards the logistics and fleet sectors. Which is the reason of this choice?
Logistics includes services and processes aimed at planning, managing and organizing the flow of goods and information from start to finish. Efficient and sustainable freight transport logistics plays a crucial role when it comes to ensuring that many other services and activities in our economy – from the production of goods to delivery and recycling, from the local to the global level – keep running smoothly. In Europe, the logistics sector accounts for about 14% of the GDP of the entire EU and, taking all activities into account, employs more than 11 million people across all the Member States. It is also expected that the growing demand for freight transport, which is already expected to catch up by 2020 with the peak levels reached in 2008 before the economic crisis, will increase by more than 40% by 2040. We are focusing a lot of our energy on this sector, because we believe that the economic impact of freight transport logistics and its contribution to Europe’s growth and competitiveness is extremely significant.
What is the key to further expand this market?
As the competitive and regulatory scenario evolved, the issue of the safety and traceability of goods has become increasingly important in the logistics sector, with repercussions in terms of supply chain management and transport. Here, too, information technology, and in particular the Internet of Things (IoT), can offer valuable support, increasing the level of visibility and control over the supply chain. Transport is a good example of how IoT technologies can represent an added value: in fact, this sector needs systems that, on the one hand, allow the planning, management and optimization of flows, both along the supply chain and within complex logistics hubs such as intermodal ones – interports, ports, interchange points, etc. – and, on the other, allow the real-time traceability of goods. Finally, there also is a need to verify the integrity of goods, often carried out by checking the integrity of the container.
From telematics to IoT, then?
Telematics is, by now, an obsolete term that fails in fully describing the current revolution, which is the logical consequence of what has happened in the last thirty years – years in which informatics and telematics converged. IoT has unlimited applications, but they require significant investments in terms of infrastructures to allow smart connection and communication between devices those environments in which vehicles, people and things move. Italy is proud to have companies that reached technological excellence in this field; in fact, the most important European companies in the sector were born in Italy. A perfect example of this is the first Viasat satellite anti-theft device, which dates back to the second half of the ‘80s. As it has already happened in other manufacturing sectors, the most striking example being Olivetti in the IT sector, today we run the risk, once again, of giving up our role as innovation leaders, compromising an extraordinary opportunity for a brighter industrial and occupational future to the detriment of our country.
Is it not risky to “delegate” success exclusively to data, technology and innovation?
It certainly is. In fact, thechnology is very important in this scenario but people are more important. From this point of view, even more important are the investments made by our Group in order to create Operations Centers that meet the most modern quality standards in terms of data security, disaster recovery procedures, interoperability (multiDevice, multiProtocol, mutiServices) and communication protocols in line with the european eCall specifications (which were also discussed in the context of TSP Association) as well as minimum data sets for insurance companies. In addition, our versatile services can be planned in a scalable way according to the specific needs of particular customer segments, such as freight transport and logistics companies, city cleansing, as well as private, public, car rental, car sharing and carpooling fleets. On a final note, our most important characteristic is represented by the sophisticated applications that make Viasat one of the most stratified and diversified Big Data platforms in the world, but also by the hundreds of qualified people providing security and 24/7 services all year round.