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December 1, 2023

Driving Innovation in IT

Paolo Alvari is the Director of Service Assurance at Telecom Italia (TIM), the main telecommunications provider in Italy and a major player in Brazil through its subsidiary, TIM Brazil. With over 20 years of industry experience, Alvari has held several director roles in research and development before landing in his current position.

In this thought leadership article, Alvari shares his insights on how passion, disruption, and commitment can drive success in the telecom industry.

The Unique Skill Set of a Researcher

Alvari began his career as a researcher in artificial intelligence, during the field's heyday, which was short-lived. After working in France for a couple of years and several other European cities, he joined Team, a joint venture between Verizon and Telecom Italia, to develop network performance systems for Verizon in Washington, D.C. Alvari later played different roles in the IT area, including voice and BSS development.

Working as a researcher taught Alvari to be disruptive, passionate, and especially bold in everything he does. He had the honor of working with some of the top IT and telecom experts from both academia and the industry, including Elena Moreis, who defined the OSI Interconnection model that enabled distributed systems without interaction between servers. Moreis later became a successful entrepreneur and created a company named Korres that developed the first true European operating system, which was a great success. Alvari learned from Moreis that "you need to be bold, disruptive, and especially passionate in everything you do."

"I had the honor of working with some of the top IT and telecom experts from both academia and the industry. What I learned from having worked with them is that you need to be bold, disruptive, and especially passionate in everything you do."

Paolo Alvari -
Director of Service Assurance at Telecom Italia (TIM)

The Spirit of Aphrodite

Alvari contributed to the research project called the Spirit of Aphrodite, where he developed a brand new Unix system running on 3H6 boxes. The project aimed to demonstrate the ability to create a new operating system with capabilities similar to cars, being multi-threaded, and able to run on a UNIX box. The operating system was similar to Cores, which was competing with the Mac class from Carnegie Mellon University, now the core of Hadoop, MacOS, as well as Windows NT. Windows NT was the first release of Windows, which introduced the protected environment for processes by exploiting the 386 features and has been the basis of Windows that became a big milestone to get into the server arena for Microsoft, which before was limited to the desktop environment.

"We're moving quickly to the multi-chip computer project whose purpose was to demonstrate the ability to create a new operating system with capabilities similar to cars. So being multi-threaded, obviously less functionality to be able to run is what we will call today a bit on machine on a UNIX box."

From Research to Leadership

Alvari's career as a researcher led to his first role in research and development for several companies. After some time in the private sector, he managed to land at Telecom Italia, which gave him the opportunity to become a director. The move happened through Roberto Corsi, a close friend of Alvari, who inspired him with the management skills he collected in his career. Corsi was responsible for the largest and most famous industry lab in Italy, and Alvari learned a lot from him.

"I learned that it's not important to reach the top, but you must realistically create your baseline and measure the progress through goal setting. That's what makes your life satisfactory. Don't be a mess, but swim across it."

Overcoming Challenges with Diligent Work

With diligent work, Alvari learned to overcome difficult moments in his career. He had to learn from his mistakes and be guided by smart analysis. He always used the metaphor of binary trees, which made more complex graphs. At hand, he had to choose between two options and go through the tree and eventually backtrack on the tree if needed. This golden rule applied to mastering complex decisions and adjusting in his work life. Alvari is still a programmer and loves programming in the Ada language, learning how to use the new language.

"You need to be very fast. The speed is very important; if you arrive late, it's like not completing your work. I am training myself in different ways to improve my attention. If you want some of your colleagues to modify or improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to improve your own characteristics."

Achieving Productivity in Service Assurance

Alvari is presently working in the IT area, playing different roles in voice and BSS development. He is also dwelling in the new realm of Service Assurance, where he believes automatic diagnosis can drive real productivity. Customers should not have to call telecom providers to alert them of all the problems they are having. Instead, telecom providers should call them when they have fixed what they want to achieve. To do that, Alvari and his team have defined a project whose goal is to solve issues in fixing before the client claims for forehead, having some breaking ice success, especially on voice over IP.

"We must reach real productivity in assurance, not being reactive. We are having some breaking ice success, especially on voice over IP."

Leading with Speed, Attention, and Improvement

Alvari has already been a leader in several teams and departments. He emphasizes that it is not important to reach the top, but you must realistically create your baseline and measure your progress through goal setting. Alvari realized that speed is very important in his working life. The speed means reacting hastily in emails, which we now relate by using electronic systems. But social email sometimes doesn't mean the right attention. Alvari emphasizes that "in work and life, you need to be very fast. The speed is very important; if you arrive late, it's like not completing your work. I am training myself in different ways to improve my attention. If you want some of your colleagues to modify or improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to improve your own characteristics."

"If you want some of your colleagues to modify or improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to improve your own characteristics."

The Legacy of Circolo and Serverless Architecture

Alvari is particularly satisfied with the system named Circolo, which provides tokenization services to most of the Team systems. It is used to protect valuable customer data. TIM adopted a true serverless architecture for the first time four years ago, and Alvari has never found anything with the same level of robustness and ease of use. He considers it the best and would like to leave it as his legacy to his colleagues.

"We adopted a true serverless architecture for the first time four years ago, and I've never found something with the same level. Again, robust, easy, the best."

The Takeaways

  • 1.

    Passion, disruption, and commitment are key drivers of success in the telecom industry.

  • 2.

    Overcoming difficult moments in your career requires diligent work and smart analysis.

  • 3.

    To achieve real productivity in service assurance, telecom providers should be proactive instead of reactive.

  • 4.

    Leading with speed, attention, and continuous improvement is crucial to staying ahead in the industry.

  • 5.

    Adopting a true serverless architecture can provide robust and easy-to-use systems for protecting customer data.

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