Innovation in action

by Ettienne Reinecke

17 January 2020

A cartoon garden scene

Topics in this article

Harnessing the power of collaboration to drive your innovation agenda

The spirit of innovation is at the heart of modern organizations, and in this respect, we’re no different. We believe that to help our clients differentiate themselves, we need to create a culture of innovation that permeates every part of our organization.

Our clients look to us, not only for technology solutions to solve their business challenges, but also to help them create and deliver their innovation agenda, driving strategic and transformational business outcomes through emerging and disruptive technologies. 

Innovation has become a top priority for organizations as they fend off a number of challenges. New and emerging technologies, along with disruptive business models, mean companies either have to move fast and adapt, or suffer the consequences.

But companies are finding that executing on their innovation agenda is easier said than done. In order to make it happen they have to choose the right partner, with the right skills, and the processes in place to deliver customer value faster. Only then will they achieve the business outcomes they desire, at the speed they need.

Using the strength of our global reach

At NTT, we have access to a great breadth and depth of innovation across the entire NTT Group, with global reach and expertise across all innovation technologies. We invest USD 3.6 billion in research and development (R&D) every year. But equally important is our ability to tap into the skills of our people.
Through our open-innovation framework we are able to connect our people, partners, and clients, and the work being done by our R&D teams, to drive operational and digital transformation for our clients and to deliver business value faster. We embrace this collective power to challenge the norm, improve the existing and invent the future. 

Our open-innovation framework is made up of our internal InnerSourcing program and our external Co-innovation program.

Innovation starts from the inside of our organization, which is why we have to innovate internally first through collaboration to drive our own transformation before we can help other businesses transform. We call this InnerSourcing - innovation through collaboration.

Co-innovation is an initiative where we innovate together with our clients, partners and third parties, to solve business challenges through the use of disruptive and innovative technology, invent new solutions and create differentiation from competitors. Co-innovation is ‘innovation in partnership’.

Tapping into our talent pool

InnerSourcing is the adoption of open-source community culture, tools and practices to drive innovation and connect talent across all of NTT.

This allows us to leverage our global talent pool, tapping into the skills of more than 40,000 of our employees.

InnerSourcing originated with the idea that we needed a shared code repository, allowing us to take the great work that’s already been done internally across the business and leverage it for the benefit of all our clients. We created an open-source approach to innovation, working openly, delivering outcomes locally, leveraging and contributing globally and developing new skills as individuals and teams. 

See-through, flexible, rechargeable battery prototype with potential applications in wearables and the Internet of Things.

Already we’ve seen more than 5,200 pieces of intellectual property being captured through this program, with more than 3,300 people contributing.

This initiative allows us to pitch particular business challenges to the entire organization, encouraging our people to form teams and come up with new ways to improve our clients’ business.

If we’d stuck to a traditional method of developing solutions, we’d have been limited by the time and resources allocated to that project. However, with InnerSourcing we’re able to give our clients access to an expanded pool of resources focused almost entirely on driving innovation. 

Revolutionizing pro cycling

One outstanding example of how we put innovation into action is the co-innovation solutions we work on with the Tour de France organizers, Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.).

A.S.O. wants to continuously improve the level of fan engagement with the race - to embrace the shift to a hyperconnected world, and to make use of it in order to revolutionize how fans engage with the event.

To generate the widest scope of ideas, we run an annual hackathon - Le Code to France - where teams from all business functions across the world come together and pitch ideas to be implemented in the Tour de France solution.

This is just one of many examples of how we’re using our combined expertise to help our clients to truly innovate. Across the organization, we’re seeing regional teams running their own hackathons, developing a culture of innovation.

The power of Co-innovation

InnerSourcing is just one pillar of our open innovation framework. The other, equally important, pillar is our Co-innovation initiative. 

While InnerSourcing is an internal process, Co-Innovation emphasizes cooperation externally with our clients, our partners, and other companies within the NTT Group to tackle specific business challenges.

The objective of this kind of engagement is to help organizations establish their innovation roadmap, accelerating operational and digital transformation and disrupting existing business models. We use an innovation objective framework to help our clients prioritize their different focus areas, examining their operational and digital transformation objectives and their place within their innovation roadmap. 

To support this we’ve created a global network of Client Innovation Centers. These are designed to help enable and initiate these co-innovation engagements, creating an immersive experience resulting in the development of a co-innovation roadmap for our clients’ future business and digital transformation goals.

In our co-innovation client/partner engagements, we draw on common interests, our respective core strengths, competencies and intellectual property. We aim to tackle specific business challenges, sharing the resultant IP between the two parties, with specific milestones set as part of the process.

Joint innovation is a new way of working together, as both companies provide resources and funding and work together to solve business and/or operational challenges. It’s not simply a professional services engagement; both parties are putting skin into the game.
Together with the City of Las Vegas, we’re creating the foundations of an intelligent city, working with the city to use data to create a more secure environment for all their residents. 

With Cisco, we’re using blockchain to address regulatory compliance and cybercrime challenges, by enabling our clients to validate whether network configurations pushed to devices in their environment are compliant, as well as detect, using blockchain cryptography protocols, changes to and/or tampering of configurations in the network.

Working together to innovate

Our InnerSourcing and Co-innovation programs are the key pillars of our open-innovation framework and enable us to execute on our innovation agenda and strategy, as well as change the way we help our clients to innovate. 

Whether it’s working closely together with clients or partners to solve specific business challenges or tapping into the depth of resources we have inside of our organization, we’re able to accelerate the way we innovate and ultimately empower our clients to differentiate themselves in increasingly competitive markets.

Ettienne Reinecke

Ettienne Reinecke

Chief Technology Officer, NTT