Mapping Global Mobile Operator Innovation
White Paper / Oct 2018
The Mobile Operator Innovation Map showcases how the world’s top operators are fostering, investing in and supporting innovation. After surveying and researching top operators from across the globe, we classified operator innovation efforts into four categories. Some operators are particularly strong in research, whilst others have great internal innovation cultures. Some are just great innovation allrounders
The Mobile Operator Innovation Map showcases how the world’s top
operators are fostering, investing in and supporting innovation.
After surveying and researching top operators from across the globe,
we classified operator innovation efforts into four categories.
Some operators are particularly strong in research, whilst others
have great internal innovation cultures. Some are just great innovation
Internal Innovation Programmes:
These initiatives give operator staff the ability and potential
to act as innovators, driving new ideas and technologies
through the operator business itself, or even starting adjacent
businesses. Programmes may include competitions, secondment
Programmes such as these can help to motivate and interest
staff, to afford potential career opportunities, and exploit a key
mobile operator resource - their own people. They can also
influence the culture of an organisation, a key element of
innovation “soft power” as operators change their ways of
working in the digital and webscale economy.
How much financial muscle can operators exercise? Operators’
financial power in tech innovation can be expressed in four
main ways: via their own corporate VC funds set up to finance
new businesses, through investment in third party tech funds, in
direct M&A activity to acquire companies with leadership in tech
adjacencies, and via commercialisation of internal/external R&D.
Wielding innovation financial power means operators can be
well placed to benefit from and react to major disruptions and
opportunities in core and adjacent markets.
Operator R&D takes three main forms. It can be internal, taking
place in operator’s dedicated research labs. It can also take
place in partnership with academic institutes, via sponsorship
and co-funding. It may also take place in partnership with the
research arms of large vendors. R&D can be fed into the operators’
own internal business processes and network, as well as
monetised externally. It can also be leveraged to influence
standards and government investment in accordance with
operators’ own preferences.
Ignite – Telenor’s internal innovation program, launched in 2016
has already seen 3 Ignite-incubated products to market — with
seven more ongoing in 2018. In 2018 there are 18 teams, 2-3
employees per team, and 150-200 employees have been through
Ignite in 2016-2018
Telefónica runs Innovation calls - a startup financing round-like
process where projects have to pass successive stage gates in
order to get access to increasing funds. It also has a programme
called 10 Fridays, in which Employees can use up to 10 Fridays to
develop their Innovation Call ideas. Its annual Initiative for
Sustainable Innovation Investment is open for any Operating
Business Unit to propose new ideas for sustainable products and
services, internal projects or commercial actions.
KT’s “Career path” is a programme for cutting-edge expert
training in research and development.
Outstanding R&D achievements receive several awards, including
the “No. 1 KT Staff Award,’ CEO Award, CTO Awardand Best Award.
The awards are accompanied by cash rewards. When a researcher
proposes a project, targets in revenue, profit, potential
subscriptions, etc. must be included.
Verizon has been investing in startups through Verizon Ventures
for over 10 years. To date, there are over 45 startups in its
portfolio. Sample portfolio companies include Brit + Co, iguazio,
Lumina Networks, PrecisionHawk, Urban Airship, Versa Networks,
and The Void.
The Hive is a venture fund and co-creation studio that builds and
fosters startups focused on AI-powered applications.
The Fabric is a pre-Series A startup foundry designed to
co-create, fund, and accelerate companies in the cloud and IoT
infrastructure space. The Fabric has successfully built and launched
VeloCloud (acquired by VMWare), Perspica (acquired by Cisco),
Appcito (acquired by A10 Networks), IoTium, Pensa, Spanugo,
KMesh, and Rosetta Cyber Sec.
Telenor has invested in 70 early stage startups via its joint fund
with investment firm FJ Labs.
In partnership with Rocket Internet, Ooredoo powers the Asia
Pacific Internet Group (APACIG), helping to incubate technology
companies with proven business models and help entrepreneurs
to become leaders in Asia Pacific.
Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners invests in revenue
generating companies in the expansion stage, ideally with an
annualised revenue run rate of multiple million euros. DTCP’s
current scope lies within the enterprise software and
infrastructure, including Big Data, analytics, IoT, Cyber Security,
Cloud & Network Infrastructure, and AI.
Telefónica Ventures, a Corporate Venture Fund owned 100%
by Telefónica, invests in mature, technological startups mostly
from Silicon Valley and Israel’s startup ecosystems. It has
participation in 24 companies investing a total of 69 million of
Euros. Six exits include Amobee in 2012, Quantenna IPO in 2016,
Mindmeld in 2017.
Amerigo fund, managed by third parties with Telefónica
co-investing, operates eight funds that operate in seven countries:
Spain, Germany, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. 185
million Euros have been invested so far in 103 startups.
Orange Digital Ventures is a EUR100 million corporate Fund. The
fund has made 15 investments, most of the time in Series A or B
ranging from EUR500,000 to EUR3 million as a first investment.
ACCELERATION & INCUBATION:
Orange Fab is its seed accelerator, putting start-ups in touch with
corporates and vice versa, and giving advice on funding, etc. There
are 14 Fabs around the world — from San Francisco to Tokyo.
Alongside Fab Orange also has a business grouping called
Technocentre — which brings together marketing and design in
charge of all product development for the group.
DT’s hub:raum is a dedicated incubation programme that
supports and invests in startups. Beside hub:raum a dedicated
Business Development Team has offices in Silicon Valley, Germany
and Israel scouting fields like IoT, Cyber Security, M2M, VR/AR,
Automotion, Health and AI.
Telenor runs Accelerate Asia — a cluster of five startup
accelerators in Asian markets: Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar,
Pakistan, Malaysia. Thailand’s Accelerate has a total valuation of
$130 million, with 20 VCs invested.
Telefónica’s Wayra Academies (corporate accelerator) has the
structure of an open competition where anyone can apply with
their project and after analysis, a certain number of them are
selected, receiving acceleration services and funding.
BT’s internal research and its Innovation Hub at Adastral Park
is part of its half billion pound R&D programme China Mobile
Research Institute has lead on 5G research.
Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs) is the R&D unit of
Deutsche Telekom. It has a close partnership with the Technische
Universität Berlin, and sites in Berlin, Darmstadt, Beer Sheva
(T-Labs@Ben Gurion University), Budapest and Vienna.
AT&T operates 5 Foundry Innovation Centres in the USA
Universities and institutes
Verizon has executed over 100 projects in the last 4 years
across 20+ universities.
Telefónica has an innovation network of 79 Spanish and foreign
universities and research.
Acceleration and Incubation:
These are programmes that give help to early stage companies
that doesn’t involve financial investment. Scouting teams in tech
hubs identify companies that offer growth opportunities in areas
with a strategic match to the operator. Companies are given
mentorship, networking opportunities, locations to work, and
most importantly access to operator networks and customer
bases for trials and soft launches. The goal is for the operator to
act as a hub for tech innovation, benefitting directly or indirectly
through a company’s success - for instance by usage of an
operator’s APIs by a growth company.
Explaining the scoring: TMN has carried out primary research,
surveys and background research on the different innovation
practices and investments on leading Tier One operators.
Here are some examples of particularly strong leadership.
TOTAL 28 TOTAL 25
MOBILE OPERATOR INNOVATIONThe Mobile Network // www.the-mobile-network.com