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Speaker Snapshot: Alp Basol, Chief Technology Officer, Global Enterprise Telstra

How to foster innovation ideation and structure execution

2Aug

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney this September 6&7th, we spoke to Alp Basol, Chief Technology Officer, Global Enterprise at Telstra.

Based in Melbourne Australia, Alp Basol has 20 years of experience in the IT and Telecommunications industries, with an in-depth understanding of the international marketplace and the business challenges that multinational corporations face in their financial, political, regulatory, geographic and technology environments. As a part of the leadership team, he supports the Telstra Executive, providing deep technology expertise, strategic leadership, and guidance, and ensures that product roadmaps align to customer requirements, corporate technology selections, and partner technology roadmaps. Alp provides leadership in all areas, related to Global Products and Solutions, including the continual development and evolution of a complete technical strategy and roadmap. Prior to joining Telstra, Alp held various technical and leadership roles with AT&T in Australia and the USA. Alp is a graduate of the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and also holds a Master of Science degree (Network Systems).

What do you think are the main challenges in innovation that have to be addressed in 2016?

Many challenges still lie ahead and form a complex matrix that goes beyond technology, innovation, and invention, to include social, economic, political and geographical dynamics. An important underpinning element is to stay the course for your stated purpose, providing meaningful results that help the collective organisation reach its goal. In the case of Telstra, we are creating a brilliant connected future for everyone, by executing to our vision to be a world-class technology company that empowers people to connect.

What do you think are the main factors behind a successful innovation strategy?

Successful strategies must be meaningful, tangible, measurable and contribute to the core essence and capabilities of the organization, addressing key challenges, improving the user experience, providing new areas of growth and improving digitised operations.

Why do some fail and what can be done to improve the understanding of innovation and its practices?

The basic principals of innovation hold true regardless of the methodology and execution. In simple terms, not every idea will succeed, and acceptance of failure is a key learning point in the innovation structure and strategy. The improvement of our understanding starts with 'fail is not a failure'. Where we fail, we must do so quickly (weeks not months), learn from our failure: intellectual property, strategy update, concept viability, and recycle competes to other relevant fields of investigation: Can we use parts of the code elsewhere? Does it improve the position of another investigation?

How important is it to collaborate with the startup community, in particular, Labs and Incubators, in order to drive innovation?

Innovation cannot take place in isolation and requires input from all stakeholders. Every idea must begin with a user story. The most important of these is the outward-looking engagement with customers and end users. Innovation must be relevant and meaningful, or the idea will never make it out in the wild, having no impact to the end user. A successful strategy must include structured meaningful engagement, providing continuous learning and improvement, ensuring deep and consistent conversations, contributing to the core capability of your company and corporate mission. One of the keystones in bringing an idea to life is around decision trees, where you choose to build, acquire or license, or partner certain capabilities. Other incubators provide a wealth of resources and can provide substantial speed to market gains.

How to promote creative thinking and ideation of innovation within a company’s corporate culture?

The cultural shift is one of the greatest challenges. The change comes from empowering both technical and non-technical contributors as equal members of the design team. The cultural change begins with accountability and encompasses, all teams contributing to the development streams that are small, dedicated, co-located and X-functional, teams which are empowered to solve specific challenges with the focus on continuous learning, and active sharing of knowledge and lessons learned. If I had to summarise, I would say 'knowledge is power' and 'sharing maintains relevance'.

What are you going to be discussing in your presentation?

I will discuss the need for a structured approach to developing a Sustainable Innovation Culture in established corporate environments, building the momentum and executing an innovation program to rapidly create tangible, measurable, meaningful results.

You can hear more from Alp and other industry leaders at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit, taking place in Sydney this September 6-7th.

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