How do Norway’s largest companies drive change?

This year’s Annual Conference hosted by the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) is focusing on how businesses and technology can help solve challenges related to population growth and greenhouse emissions. Here, Group President and CEO Sigve Brekke outlines how Telenor develops products and services that contribute to those goals and more.

Written: 4 January 2017

The world is changing. We’re facing a digital shift, and Norway is no exception. Historically, Norwegian businesses have been highly adaptable in the face of change. But the changes we are now facing will happen faster and be more disruptive to existing business models than ever before.

Competition has become global

Estimates suggest that in ten years 40 per cent of the businesses we know today will no longer exist. Competition has become global.

While acknowledging these challenges, Telenor sees many opportunities provided by a digital shift:

  • Products and services will be distributed in a more cost efficient and environmentally responsible way
  • Resources can be used more effectively and sustainably
  • Increased efficiency of public sector
  • Welfare services can be strengthenedThroughout our 160 years of operation, Telenor has been an agent of continuous change. Today, we see that our own business model is challenged. We need to think differently. The same applies to most of the other large companies in Norway. Our future business model is to provide services together with others, in partnerships, as an integrated system provider, or as a platform provider. We believe this is the new way to build business.    

Working for a green future

This year’s NHO conference, titled #MadeinNorway maintains that it’s possible to reduce emissions while creating value and jobs. We share that view, and are developing products and services that contribute to the development of the low carbon society and the circular economy.

Here are three ways Telenor is working towards a green future:

1. The Ocean
Norwegian fish farm for salmon growing in open water
Through partnership with Salmar, one of the world’s largest producers of farmed salmon, Telenor has helped connect its coastal fish farming systems by means of modern technology. Salmar is now in the process of moving its salmon farms far offshore. Only through digital solutions, from sea to table, can this be done in a sustainable way.

2. Smart cities

Bjørvika Barcode in Oslo Norway
Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and it will increase further. More than 70 per cent of the greenhouse emissions are emitted in urban centers, much of this coming from transport. Last autumn, Telenor ran a pilot with Ruter (Oslo’s public transport authority) and the municipality of Bærum. Together we gathered information and mapped out the various ways in which citizens travel and commute.

The project also includes testing of self-running electric buses, which will become a reality sooner than many think and represent an important element in building a green future.

3. Competence

Artificial intelligence, connections and nucleus in concept of interconnected neurons. Abstract background with binary numbers, neural network and cloud computing.
Digital innovations like these require new competencies and substantial analytical skills. This is why Telenor has invested NOK 50 million and hired 6 full-time researchers exploring Artificial Intelligence technologies in a lab at NTNU in Trondheim. Open to all, we believe this center will enable Norway to keep up with what leading players in the world are doing within AI. Similarly, Telenor has also launched a next-generation IoT network in Norway’s largest cities where start-ups and academics can test their services at zero cost.

We need to share

In our digital world, no company will be large enough to control the entire value chain, or to do everything on their own. We must be willing to give away our most valuable secrets, including business-critical information. We must build a culture of sharing between large companies and start-ups, as well as between industry, government, and educational and research institutions.

Large companies like ours share a common responsibility. We must help drive this change.

Only by reinventing ourselves and collaborating with others can we ensure that we remain big enterprises.