This afternoon, Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabè visited the facilities and laboratories at the University of Trento’s Department of Engineering and Information Science in Povo. Mr. Bernabè returned to the University of Trento after last October’s Economics Faculty roundtable to find out more about the Department’s successful new system for the recruitment of top graduate students and researchers.
During his visit, Mr. Bernabè had the opportunity to meet undergraduates, graduate students and researchers at the Department, and to talk with University representatives. He also gave a lectio magistralis in the afternoon, entitled “Telecommunications: an ever-evolving industry”. The lecture provided an opportunity to examine the key role played by modern ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in the advancement of society, and in driving innovation in scientific research.
The Telecom Italia CEO was greeted by Sandro Stringari, the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences, Marco Tubino, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Department founder Fausto Giunchiglia, and, representing the Autonomous Province of Trento, Fernando Guarino. In his presentation of the Department of Engineering and Information Science, faculty director Francesco De Natale highlighted the strategic importance of targeted recruiting in an emerging and highly competitive industry like ICT.
The visit continued in the DISI labs, where a number of leading-edge ICT science projects were presented. Telecom Italia’s working relationship with the University, particularly with the DISI, is well consolidated, and has spawned regular contacts and joint research projects.
A partnership project on quality is one of the most innovative recent initiatives between the company and the university. Based on a joint research project, this venture is targeted at improving customer satisfaction and the quality of service offered to customers. Mr. Bernabè’s visit to Povo was an opportunity to view the initial results of this project.
Managed for the Department by Professor Giuseppe Riccardi, the research project was conceived to develop an integrated Business Intelligence technology platform for monitoring and analyzing information generated through contact with customers. This research project is the first of its kind between a telecommunications services company and a University anywhere in the world regarding the use of language technologies and the development of innovative methods for automating the analysis of data collected through enquiries and interviews with customers, plus other relevant sources (including blogs, newsgroups, online communities, etc). The objective of the project is to enhance the efficiency of service quality monitoring and data assessment.
The project includes trials of advanced “speech analysis” techniques within the framework of so-called “man/machine” interaction (as in automatic IVR-type responders) and in “man/man” interactions during customer care activities.
One of the goals of the partnership is to produce software capable of undertaking lexical analysis and semantic interpretation caller utterances to the 119, 187, and 191 operator services, and to automatically recognize and catalogue feedback and opinions in order to ensure that customer expectations are met.
These activities are being run by the Department of Engineering and Information Science at the University of Trento, which is specialized in interaction models between human and virtual agents, and is involved in leading-edge trials of language and interaction technologies.
The results of this research will be applied to Telecom Italia’s Quality of Service department, which assists in customer “listening activities” in order to improve quality of service and customer satisfaction.
As part of the agreement between the University and Telecom Italia, Telecom Italia is supporting students on the Second Level Master in Human Language Technology and Interfaces course at the Faculty of Engineering, offering assistance in drawing up training projects and studying specific topics throughout the course.
Trento, 18 December 2009