The telecom industry: Dealing with constant revolution

Published on Apr 19, 2012

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Innovation makes the world go round and some industries are more exposed to this fact than others. In this blog we often talk about changing pharmaceutical industry innovation practices. Telecom is another example of an industry for which innovation is a matter of life and death. Changes are deep and numerous. Historically, they sold voice communication per minute, later they enabled access to networks through multichannel communication (voice communication becoming free), today,  they are content providers. So, what comes next? What new technology will transform this industrial model?

In the telecom industry, where the product life cycle is extremely short, innovation has become a necessity and not an option. Telecommunications companies need to develop cutting edge technologies in order to sustain organization, systemization, and efficiency. They have to be reactive and each potential technology has to be evaluated, discussed and integrated as quickly as possible. Furthermore, the whole economy depends on the creation of a dynamic, competitive, innovative telecommunications infrastructure. In today’s world, standing still means dropping back.
This context presents both great opportunities and challenges. Telecoms are constantly innovating and transforming the way we work and the products they offer. The only concern is how to keep a step ahead of competitors in a cut-throat environment. Innovation challenges technology convergence and holds the keys to future business growth.
One solution seems to be to expand innovation horizons by defying collaboration limits and opening up to technologies that might be acquired externally. Think globally, act personally and manage the technology mix consistently. According to the “The Innovation paradox in the telecom industry[i] study conducted by IBM, 80 % of telecom decision makers acknowledge the importance of collaborating with a wide range of external partners as 51 % of the technologies they develop come from external sources.
All telecommunications companies have already set up their strategy in this direction and have become much more than just providers. Devices are following this trend as the well-known Apple case confirms Siri Inc. integration - the intelligent software voice assistant, was acquired by Apple in 2010 and integrated in the Iphone 4S with 2 immediate benefits: 1st integration within 6 month, 2nd no other competitor platform could develop the feature.
Another example worthy of mention: an open community portal to interact and test product with early adopters: Orange Lab, plus innovation contests for attractive start-up projects and young talents .
Because of the large number of initiatives,  companies are having trouble managing this rich vein of idea flows. Ideas coming from outsiders are communicated to them in a very informal way by email, phone and platforms. Then, to evaluate the idea submitted, there are a number of email exchanges and meetings which lead or not, to a decision to develop the new technology. Since there is no coordinated process, very often there is redundancy and loss of relevant information. This process is inefficient and time-consuming.
And yet it could be performed faster and better. Better because more potential technologies could be captured, enriched and decided upon; faster because this entire process could be organized within a specific time frame.
Inova EXPLORE is a smart solution to this problem. There are many parallels with scouting activities in the pharmaceutical industry.  Since Explore has inherited 10 years of best practice scouting in pharma, it can help telecom industry scout, evaluate new technologies in order to faster integrate them into new products and processes. By involving all employees in the scouting process, Explore gives an exhaustive view of all ideas coming from the outside in general,  and from strategic partners in particular. Thanks to an experienced and valuable platform that has proved its worth, Open innovation managers track, screen and form opinions on external technologies. Efficient information sharing at the earliest possible juncture, and cross-team collaboration result in a top quality innovation process and better informed decision-makers.
Every new technology represents a competitive advantage and innovation has become crucial in the telecom industry. Adopting ideas from outsiders and the systematic acquisition of externally developed technologies is the key strategy they should have in order to be at the forefront of the industry.
We believe that creating “knowledge sharing” by putting the right information in the right hands will contribute to real progress.
Tremendous technology is right around the corner, and all companies need to do is chase it up and develop it.


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