Case Study: The innovation ecosystem

Case Study: The innovation ecosystem
If great ideas and market-leading solution development are your stock in trade, then Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect Program is your fast track to playing in the hyper-connected world of UFB

If great ideas and market-leading solution development are your stock in trade, then Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect Program is your fast track to playing in the hyper-connected world of UFB.

Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect is seeking our brightest minds and most innovative companies to join a program that will bring them together with resources from industry, business and academia in an innovation ecosystem. 

Jason Collins, vice president of emerging technology at Alcatel-Lucent, describes ng Connect as solving human problems. Member companies are working to develop new technologies to improve outcomes across a wide range of human experience including healthcare, education, retail and more.

Speaking from Texas, Collins paints a picture of a UFB, 4G world where bandwidth is ubiquitous.

“Once the technology is in place and users can access all the bandwidth they need, the challenge is then, what are the business and economic solutions that will drive the next generation of user experience?

“What became clear to us is that these are not problems any one company or organisation can solve. There’s a role for a range of people and companies to play working within an ecosystem. We need to get the right people and organisations working together – and fast.”

Founded by Alcatel-Lucent, the ng Connect Program now has an established community of member companies in the US collaborating within a dedicated environment of innovation (ecosystem). Tools and techniques to ignite creativity and development are provided and roadblocks to optimising the innovation chain are removed. It’s all about making things happen.

As with all ecosystems, there is a symbiotic relationship between the players. The membership may be comprised of leading service providers such as telcos, and infrastructure providers, to sole trader app developers. Each member plays a unique role in ensuring the success of the ecosystem.

At the heart of the process is a two-day activity referred to in ng Connect circles as an Ideation session. This is where the ecosystem meets to discuss and choose business challenges they can collaborate on developing service concepts for. It’s part-education, part-brainstorm. Often industry leaders will present their current business challenges to the group looking for solutions to problems.

Once a business challenge has been identified, the ng Connect Program fast tracks development with tools to innovate, create and ultimately, take solutions to market. 

With all the necessary skills at hand, innovation thrives. To date ng Connect has demonstrated service concepts at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that include energy management solutions, e-learning platforms, interactive digital signage, cloud–based health solutions and broadband connected vehicles, able to access cloud based services while on the road.

Building the ng Connect community down under is Richard Fraser, Alcatel-Lucent director of emerging technology and commercialisation for Australia and New Zealand. “Alcatel-Lucent commissioned Bell Labs to evaluate the potential GDP impact of UFB in New Zealand,” Fraser says. “From the work that Bell Labs undertook, it’s clear that the greatest gains were going to be made by rapid uptake and usage of new technology. That’s the space ng Connect plays in.

“With the Government’s focus on ICT and opportunities aplenty to leverage UFB in areas such as healthcare, e-learning, agriculture, banking and retail, now’s the time for developers to start working with companies that can aid them by shortening the development cycle and getting great concepts to market ahead of time.”

Although it’s early days for ng Connect in New Zealand, the momentum of the programme was given a significant boost with the announcement by Chorus that it would become a foundation member of the ng Connect community here. With Chorus on board, ng Connect will have access to the technical resources of our largest infrastructure provider, including a recently commissioned lab environment in Auckland. 

The impending launch of ng Connect is generating interest from leading local companies including service providers in the utility, telco, finance and banking sectors. There’s little doubt that service developers wishing to leverage the benefits of UFB will have the backing of ecosystems rich with industry knowledge and expertise. Direct access to market expertise via ng Connect will allow developers to drive revenues by taking solutions to market more quickly than they could alone.

The first year goal for ng Connect is lofty indeed – to take one or two of the concepts developed as part of the New Zealand ng Connect Program and showcase them at CES in 2014.

“There’s a host of great innovations developed every day in New Zealand, it’s the people behind these solutions ng Connect is targeting,” Fraser says. “We want to put our best developers together with leading service providers and industry experts. Enabling collaboration and creativity without limit and removing all business and technical barriers to getting their solutions to market, that’s the difference ng Connect will make for innovators.”