As part of our effort to remain on the cutting edge of technology, we have started a renewed effort to develop relationships with the other companies that will be developing the technologies of the future. One way that we have done this is to hold "speed dating" sessions where companies can pitch their ideas to AT&T. For compelling ideas we rapidly develop proof-of-concepts by immediately dedicating AT&T expertise, resources and infrastructure.
While the many life changing technologies have been developed at research labs like our own AT&T Labs, we also know that many of the next technologies are likely to be developed by individual developers or small, but passionate startups. By meeting with these groups early in their development, we cannot only work with them to develop their products, but we can keep our finger on the pulse of the future.
By constantly thinking about what is coming next, we can better position ourselves to take advantage of future technologies that will allow our company to decrease its environmental impact and help solve some of the world's toughest problems.
Innovating for Tomorrow
At AT&T we don't see innovation as a job, but as part of our corporate culture. It is an effort that requires all of our employees to engage and think about what is next.
One way that AT&T ensures that innovation is everyone's responsibility is through a system called The Innovation Pipeline or "TIP". TIP experienced tremendous growth during its first full year of operation, with many successful ideas submitted in 2010. A crowd-sourcing collaboration forum, TIP lets employees share their creative and imaginative ideas, collaborate amongst a community of innovators and potentially develop the next big idea to launch in the marketplace.
Managed by members of the AT&T Intellectual Property group, TIP was designed to provide employees with an avenue for their ideas to be materialized, vetted, funded and implemented in an accelerated fashion. It's a place to voice your ideas and harness support, in the true spirit of promoting an innovative and collaborative internal culture.
Some highlights from 2010 included:
- More than 75,000 employee users
- 12,000 ideas submitted by the end of the year
- A 185 percent increase of users and almost 370 percent spike in ideas submitted from December 2009
TIP has been so successful that it has been incorporated into many aspects of AT&T.
- Participants are asked to help solve specific business cases through 17 Executive Challenges that were issued in 2010
- Three employees were asked to present their TIP ideas to the entire AT&T officers corps at the November Officers Conference, a presentation that will now be an annual event
- TIP provides participants with the opportunity to consider a wide range of issues, ranging from customer experience to IT innovation
One of the most effective ways that AT&T can help solve the problems of tomorrow is by empowering other companies to do the same. In 2010 AT&T announced that it would be opening three AT&T Foundries across the world in Plano, Tex., Palo Alto, Calif., and Tel Aviv, Israel. The Foundry innovation centers are not just showrooms. They're not just testing labs, either. We have those. But the AT&T Foundry innovation centers are all about collaborative innovation. Innovation that will help make our economy more efficient and sustainable.
Making quick decisions and moving forward aggressively are important parts of the innovation center process. Developers who work with us in the AT&T Foundry innovation centers get access to our network capabilities and test beds, in addition to technology experts and project coaches.
The AT&T Foundry innovation centers are spaces for collaboration and innovation. These spaces are designed for teams to gather and advance projects — where developers can make themselves at home, but with resources they couldn't get anywhere else.
The projects in these centers run in sprints — 30- and 90-day periods in which we meet specified goals or disband the project. Our goal in selecting and fast-tracking projects in the AT&T Foundry innovation centers is to cut the time from idea engagement to market by 3X.
Our initial projects have gone from speed date to beta in about six months — compared to years before innovation centers. We held more than 170 speed date proposal reviews in 2010. This year, we plan to hold 400.
Fundamentally, our belief is that by creating spaces such as AT&T Foundry, we can help new companies to further develop ICT technology. The technology of tomorrow will be developed by fast moving companies and at AT&T our goal is not only take part in that development, but to help other companies participate as well.
The TED Conference is a well-known innovation event that brings together people from three worlds: technology, entertainment and design. Its annual conferences in California and Edinburgh, UK spark discussions around innovative ideas among leaders, thinkers and doers.
AT&T is proud to sponsor and participate in TED events. In 2010, we collaborated with TED to create the official TED2010 Mobile Conference app. We also created an interactive lounge highlighting AT&T innovation in network, mobility and research.
Follow our TED twitter handle, @ATT_TED.