Speaker Snapshot: 'The Cultural Barrier Is One Of The Great Barriers To Innovation'

We speak to Alp Basol, Chief Technology Officer, Global Enterprise at Telstra


Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15, 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 market place and the business challenges multinational corporations face in their financial, political, regulatory, geographic and technology environments. As part of the leadership team, he supports the Telstra Executive, providing deep technology expertise, strategic leadership, and guidance, and to ensure that product roadmaps align to customer requirements, corporate technology selections, and partner technology roadmaps. Alp provides leadership in all areas relating 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 Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne Australia, which includes a Master of Science (Network Systems).

What prevents innovation?

Barriers to innovation can be complex and are unique to each organisation. A large corporation may face cultural barriers, bureaucracy or archaic process where as a start-up may be constrained by market dynamics, geography and funding models.

In general, the cultural barrier is one of the great barriers to innovation.

How important is collaboration for effective innovation?

Companies should embrace a corporate culture that empowers and draws on all talent and ideas from all levels, internal and external resources, and simplifies complex hierarchies.

No one person or organisation can take complete ownership of innovation in a company, there will be centres of excellence that will bring ideas to life but good ideas should come from everywhere.

The aim should be to bring the best team together which may consist of customers, internal resources across the organisation and trusted external advisors/partners.

Having a close empowered team that has a well-defined value proposition should dedicate time and focus efforts during the engage, explore and incubate phase.

Importantly a product owner, that will monetise and scale your solutions, a technologist that is the developer that will build your prototype, and the customer advocate that will ensure your solution is based in a customer problem should all form part of the core team where they maintain flexibility in their role, doing what needs to get done.

Can you teach somebody to be an innovator?

If invention is the mother of necessity then innovators are those that live the customer journey every day.

I think you can teach methodologies and structure, provide the tools for focusing efforts to get to the first thread of function and find the two bookends ‘is it technically viable and is it valuable’ but true innovation comes from addressing a customer problem, improving and making their lives better.

Innovation is not in the exclusive domain of technologists. Those of us that are deeply involved in innovation functions as part of our daily career have a natural talent as innovators and disruptors, however true innovation comes from the experience of being immersed in the customer problem every day.

Are there pre-requisites for effective innovation?

Access to physical space to collaborate and explore is essential, your facilities should allow you to build wireframes, low fidelity prototypes and include rapid development sandbox environments.

Well defined methodologies that allow you to reach a decision point quickly to stop, pivot or park innovation sprint that includes outcome pathways are needed to empower your exploration teams.

What can our audience expect to hear from you in Sydney?

I will be exploring monetising innovation, looking at engaging with the market place to explore new ideas from various sources, screening these ideas based on Desirability/Feasibility/Viability/Priority to ensure a balance across capabilities, core mission and culture.

Examining the limitations of traditional product development models in a dynamic market place, I will explore the impact of increased customer insight and engagement on new and alternative approaches examining the outcome of customer driven design, to value and revenue.

You can catch Alp’s presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15.

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