With over 30,000 patents and 22,000 member Research & Development staff, Ericsson is one of the leaders in IT connections: as they say, “We are making the Networked Society a reality”.
We are in the middle of a major revolution in the society driven by the rapid evolution of communication technology. It took about 100 years to connect 1 billion places by the fixed phones. Thirty years only were needed to connect over 5 billion people by the mobile phones. And, in 2020, Ericsson predicts there is going to be more than 50 billion things connected over mobile broadband, “Anything that benefits from being connected will be connected”.
Ulf Wahlberg, working for Ericsson since 1984, has gone from Researcher to Product Development to Head of Research, and is now the Vice President of Industry & Research Relations. It’s sure Ulf is passionate about his work and this Future Shaper really knows what he is talking about! Listen to what he told me when we met in Kista, the Swedish Silicon Valley.
“Since 1876, innovation is the culture of our company. It has led us from the telegraph to telephony and into broadband. Now, Ericsson is present in almost every country in the world.”
“By the introduction of the open and global standard GSM, the mobile phone was made available to everyone. This has then been followed by 3G and 4G standards for mobile broadband, creating a rapid explosion of new services and applications, creating totally new opportunities for innovative services based on mobility.”
“Vision is important: to set really challenging goals. The first time one guy said: “The mobile phone should fit into your pocket”, it probably sounded as if impossible to reach, but it was really a very strong vision in developing the technology and standards needed to finally reach the goal. We now are seeing completely new innovations using the mobile broadband, and this will set new challenging visions and requirements for the networks in the future.”
(Be open, open, open…)
“Today, innovation also runs outside the company, it’s an on-going external cooperation with end users, operators, universities, research institutes and other industries.”
“We make research together with other industry partners when preparing to set new standards, in order to find and agree on what technologies and possibilities will be state of the art in five to ten years from now.”
“We also innovate with our customers. What do they need? If we understand their needs, we can go beyond what they are asking for and innovate for them. We can many times innovate by putting existing things together and coming up with original solutions. Before, we were selling products, now, we are also selling services, among them is being an integrator of customer solutions.”
Ulf concludes in saying: “In Europe, academic research is ranked as very high, but in general we could do a lot more to innovate and create new products and services based on this excellent research. And we need to speed this up to meet the global competition.”
In our Sparkling Rendezvous, Ulf will tell us his 9 secrets on managing creativity… surprise, surprise…