Interview with Massimo Bertolotti, Sky Italia

Sky Italia went from strength to strength last year,  passing the five million subscribers milestone. Much of that is down to its operational excellence, including the contribution of head of platform engineering and innovation Massimo Bertolotti.

Age 39

Education Telecommunications Engineer graduate; Master in Business Administration and Strategy

Previous positions Transmission and distribution manager

Last year’s highlights If you own a tablet or smartphone, and you are watching television, chances are you vacillate between two screens, in a multitasking experience to catch data information synchronised with the television programme, and share info with friends. Last year’s professional highlights centred on platform diversification. All main broadcasters have launched or consolidated OTT services and have started to offer a new entertainment approach, not only based on the “anywhere” concept, but with full integration of hybrid services, therefore enhancing the experience on the main screen and, through the Companion Services, bringing users to a new level of interactivity in TV viewing. For example, social TV lets subscribers engage with their social networks and express how they feel, in real time, about the TV content they are watching. TV viewing is increased through interactive games, applications, live chat and social networking feeds presented on a companion screen, such as a smartphone or tablet. Providing a personalised and interactive experience deepens a subscriber’s connection with the programming, translating into more loyalty and satisfaction.

Most significant industry developments The main topic is related to a new generation, an evolution, of HD. Many companies, in different areas, are starting to build the next stage for video quality: 4K. From the TV industry to more efficient encoding algorithms and transmission, third generation technology,  all seems to be focused on achieving the next step in transmission quality in the near future.

Goals for next year Next year, we will be focusing on infrastructure efficiency and development of new services based on technology innovation. Technology innovation will be based on building an easy and plug and play platform to support the best services and products for customers and users.

Industry challenges and opportunities The OTT world is creating confusion and fragmentation of services; the new challenge is to try to dominate and to harmonise this wave, creating a smooth transition from historical linear TV consumption to a new TV immersive experience where interaction will be a key element.

Alternative career choice That is not easy. I’m part of the third generation, within my family, following the path of the broadcasting, radio and TV world. However, I did have a dream. Cooking means relaxing, so I love to cook, on any occasion and for anybody. Obviously, I’m an innovator also in the kitchen, and I love to try to mix the ingredients to find new tastes.

TV character most identified with I love Masterchef. It is a perfect format for anyone who loves cooking, while my target is Johnny Depp and his performance in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Most admired personality That is easy, and not only because I was born in Milan. For me, Emergency Organisation and its founder Gino Strada is, and will be, an example of how people can work for others. Emergency is a humanitarian NGO that provides emergency medical treatment to civilian victims of war, especially in relation to landmines. It was founded by war surgeon Strada in 1994 in Milan. Emergency strives for neutrality in every war; its aim is to guarantee the right of free medical assistance to the population affected by  war. Today Emergency is active in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Sri Lanka. Emergency’s humanitarian projects usually involve construction, support, and operation of permanent hospitals. However, Emergency has also given short-term emergency assistance to existing hospitals in areas with a critical need for temporary care by providing specialised personnel, drugs or instruments. These short-term projects have included Algeria, Angola, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Palestine and Serbia. To date, more than 2.3 million people have received care from Emergency health centers.

Life outside work I spend my time with my family, my wife and my daughter, my life and my strength.