Innovating to meet the everyday needs of people and businesses
Telenor’s Dagfinn Myhre gets to be a part of great innovation each and every day. As the Head of the Research Agenda for Telenor Group, he works alongside a team of researchers who study ways to improve the customer experience and create new opportunities in the market.
Innovation is a part of the Telenor strategy, and it is an important part of how the company conducts its business. Dagfinn shares his view on how Telenor defines innovation and how the company innovates for its customers.
Q: How does Telenor define innovation?
Dagfinn: Innovation is the successful introduction of something new, and it can be incremental or radical. It is the key to our future. We look at the everyday needs of people and businesses, and we seek ways to create value for our customers through innovative content and services. But innovation is not only in the form of new services. We can innovate through new and improved production processes, business models and customer experiences.
Q: Why is innovation an important part of the Telenor strategy?
Dagfinn: Our industry is in constant change, which creates new opportunities. These changes can come in the form of increased competition, technological development, new business models, new software-based services, new social networking channels, changes in customer behaviour, and more. Our future depends on taking new positions in the market and using these opportunities to offer better products and services to our customers.
Q: Does innovation mean that you must invent something completely new for a market?
Dagfinn: No, not necessarily. We can be innovative by expanding or modifying a current customer offering, such as a change in pricing. Take the example of Uninor, who wanted to find a way to put customers in control of the costs. They found that dynamic pricing worked for their customers, and customers were made aware of certain times of day or locations when they would be charged less to make a phone call.
Q: Does Telenor ever take risks when it comes to innovation?
Dagfinn: Innovation is all about taking risks. The risk increases when we take new positions and develop new services, for example financial services. In Pakistan we saw an opportunity to enter the financial services market, as a large part of the population was without banking services and yet owned mobile phones. Telenor Pakistan launched Easypaisa with Tameer Bank, and now the people of Pakistan can pay their bills with their mobile phone.
Our risk becomes even greater when we start creating options for future business, for example with machine-to-machine technology (or the Internet of things). We are developing ways to make electric cars communicate with utility companies, help healthcare providers remotely monitor patients or even remotely diagnose problems with vehicles or other equipment. We have been in M2M for over a decade, but much of the innovation in this field is unprecedented and therefore involves a bit of risk.
Q: Does research drive innovation?
Dagfinn: Research is a part of innovation. Innovation is not always linear, and ideas often have several sources. Innovation may be based on a market need or it may be the outcome of a study we conducted.
Q: So then, how does Telenor innovate?
Dagfinn: We take a broad approach that encompasses both the expansion of our core business as well as the creation of options for future business. To do this, we conduct numerous pilot projects and experiments, and we conduct research. Then, we implement an idea and engage in direct business through the Telenor business units.
Q: Do we innovate alone?
Dagfinn: We innovate in close cooperation with customers and partners; this is what we call “open innovation”. Innovation doesn’t happen alone, it happens when working with others. Many of the new services today are developed as part of an open innovation ecosystem. It’s up to Telenor to enable them for customers. Telenor can’t do everything itself, so we must find the best services and make them available to our customers.
Q: Will Telenor’s definition of innovation change in the coming years?
Dagfinn: Growth is driven by advances in technology, innovative new services and changing customer behaviours. At Telenor, we must continue to improve the customer experience and be innovative in terms of future business models. We must be able to continuously develop our role in a changing industry.