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BT Group Managing Global Open Innovation Case Solution
It is important for British Telecom (BT) to evolve continuously in the technological landscape, so as to ensure that it went on to develop innovative products and services for its diverse customer base. Technological development like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, advanced analytics, and others have provided great opportunities for introducing innovative products and technologies for the customers. Jean-Marc Frangos leads product research and open innovation for the company. Apart from having a robust in-house unit, BT also relies on external sources of innovation like start-ups. However, it is important to develop suitable integration between external ideas and the organizational infrastructure. Moreover, it is also important to evaluate the future of innovation in the context of its internal and external sources.
Following questions are answered in this case study solution
External Innovation Process
Globalized Scouting and Challenges
Synergies between External Innovation and Internal Research
Evaluating Multiple Scenarios regarding Management of Innovation
Recommendation / Executive View
Case Analysis for BT Group Managing Global Open Innovation
2. External Innovation Process
External innovation process has become quite widespread in different parts of the world. The collaborative nature of the digital world facilitates the organization in developing units in areas where new technologies were emerging. The innovative culture in different region is led by universities, R&D labs and startups. As far as multinational Telecommunication giants have their scouting units in different regions. For instance, Bouygues Telecom (France), BT, Swisscom (Switzerland). Common areas were Bengaluru, Silicon Valley, and Tel Aviv. The scouting units were responsible for developing partnerships with startups, who are into making technologically advanced products. BT’s technology scouting unit formed the core of its overall global innovation model. Initially, it relied on venture funds to reach the startups. Later on, the emphasis moved towards identifying individual companies.
The processes of successful identification of technologies was developed in a manner that the innovation team was responsible for identifying and screening new technologies and models, and the subsequent qualifications are communicated to BT’s customer facing units. During these stages, technical feasibility and practicality of products are appropriately ascertained. Technologies that do not pass the technical and commercial tests were screened out. Several assessments were conducted on the externally sources ideas, like the Architectural Compliance Framework, which was to ensure that the tested technology fits the overall strategic roadmap of the organization.
There are four important components of the external innovation process: Idea, Proposal, Business case, and Delivery. Generating ideas entail identifying opportunities, and analyzing their practicality. The proposal aspect focuses on developing initial valuation. It takes 60 days to articulate and validate new idea. The next stage is developing full business case, which involves external and internal development for trial. The last stage is delivery, which primarily involves testing the final product with the customer. The project is also funded before it reaches the stage of delivery.
It is also pertinent to mention the criteria that are used to ascertain the usefulness of an externally sourced innovative idea. Technological criteria ascertain the technical viability of the new technology. Market factors makes sure that the technology is practical in the context of a certain target market.
3. Globalized Scouting and Challenges
The global and collaborative nature of the digital world benefited the organization to a great extent. Asian countries like Japan, Korea and China became more important than before, as they provided great opportunities in the context of innovative ideas and technologies. B had local consultants working in different parts of the world. They helped in developing collaborative framework with various pertinent startups. For instance, Jay Doshi worked in India, and who scouted for new technologies as a part-time activity for the organization. Frangos often visited these local consultants, in order to discover various opportunities. Simultaneously, collaboration was also developed with customer facing units, in order to ensure that the identified opportunities are relevant in the context of the overall business.
There were several challenges that were faced by the organization in implementing the external innovation process. A major challenge was understanding the different needs of the customer facing units on a continuous basis. Similarly, there were certain strategic issues that obstructed induction of innovative ideas. Frangos referred to this as ‘Pain points’, as he was not able to ascertain the real issues faced by the customer facing units of the organization. Secondly, language was also an issue. The scouting team took part in extensive travelling to different parts of the world. It is mentioned in the case that some companies were screened out where fluency in English was not present at all levels. At the same time, it was also difficult to convince the foreign players to divert their resources from Asia to European region. This made it difficult to develop effective collaboration with these companies. More than identifying an exciting technology, it was important to ensure that the technology is relevant and can become a useful part of the overall company’s infrastructure, considering the strategic roadmap of the company.
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