Thursday , 23 November 2017
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A Team Game – Can Telecoms Giant Telefonica Collaborate Successfully With Entrepreneurs? – Forbes

A Team Game – Can Telecoms Giant Telefonica Collaborate Successfully With Entrepreneurs? – Forbes


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Source – Alpha

Pablo Rodriguez sees multiple collaboration

Running east to west across Barcelona, &nbsp;the Avinguda Diagonal is an 11 kilometer stretch of &nbsp;tree-lined road that enables the city’s residents and its visitors to move relatively easily from one district to another. If you want to go shopping, visit a museum, take in some modernist architecture,&nbsp; or get to an appointment, the chances are that the Diagonal will get you most of the way to where you want to go.&nbsp; And latterly, stretches of the avenue – or to more precise, offices and work spaces in close proximity – &nbsp;have been attracting increasing numbers of technology startups, a trend that has been quickened by an official drive to establish the freshly-branded 22@ district as Barcelona’s innovation hub.

But I’m looking down at the avenue, not from the window of a co-working center populated by eager startups , but from the fifteenth floor of Diagonal Zero Zero, an office block that is largely occupied by&nbsp; Telefonica.&nbsp; The tower sits&nbsp; at the western end of&nbsp; Diagonal,&nbsp; positioning the telecom giant close to the burgeoning Barcelona tech community.&nbsp; And the location is appropriate. I’m here to talk to Pablo Rodriguez and his team at Alpha, an initiative that should see Telefonica forging links with an increasing number of startups and entrepreneurs, both in the city and elsewhere, to drive forward ambitious projects.

From Big Telco To Disruptive Player

Telefonica is, on one level, the epitome of ‘big telco’ &nbsp;As a former state-owned monopoly &nbsp;it is more than accustomed to being the biggest player in its home market and since privatization it has expanded its operations across &nbsp;Europe, Latin America and the US. But with &nbsp;the core telecoms market – broadband, landlines, mobile, etc. – &nbsp;becoming &nbsp;increasingly commoditized, Telefonica is&nbsp; keen to tap into the tech startup scene in, not least through an accelerator program known as Wayra.

And more recently, the company has given the green light to Alpha – essentially a variation on the Google X, corporate skunkworks theme, originally envisaged by CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete and now operating as a semi-autonomous unit with its own governance structure. The aim of Alpha is to &nbsp;identify and bring to market &nbsp;disruptive technologies and business models that have potential to change the world. To deliver on its vision, &nbsp;Alpha aims to draw on the expertise of established entrepreneurs to guide its ideas from the drawing board to the big wide world.

Bringing in Entrepreneurs

As Alpha CEO Pablo Rodriguez explains when a project – dubbed a moonshot – it given a green light, the next stage is to appoint a captain – and typically that will be an entrepreneur. &nbsp;“Our captains need to have experience in the field, “ he says. But they also need to be entrepreneurs. They need to have experience of entrepreneurship and they need to be able to put together a team.”

S,o what does all this mean in practice?

At any one time, the internal team at Alpha will be playing with perhaps 100 &nbsp;technology-focused ideas. Nothing, is off limits, You would expect a telecoms company to be looking at areas such as blockchain, the internet of things or big data, but the technologies under discussion also include, for instance, advances in neuroscience and what that means for human/machine interfaces.&nbsp; These are worked up through a mix of ‘ideation’ sessions and informal discussions. Over time (and it’s a continuing process) the majority of ideas are quietly dropped, leaving perhaps a dozen, at any one times,&nbsp; that might have legs. Roughly once a year&nbsp; year, one will be chosen as a “moon shot” and funding allocated.&nbsp; At that point the entrepreneurial captain will be appointed and a team created, and a map of the way ahead drawn up. &quot;It is the captain who will lay out the 5-7 year plan and milestones along the way,&quot; says Rodriguez.

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Source – Alpha

Pablo Rodriguez sees multiple collaboration

Running east to west across Barcelona,  the Avinguda Diagonal is an 11 kilometer stretch of  tree-lined road that enables the city’s residents and its visitors to move relatively easily from one district to another. If you want to go shopping, visit a museum, take in some modernist architecture,  or get to an appointment, the chances are that the Diagonal will get you most of the way to where you want to go.  And latterly, stretches of the avenue – or to more precise, offices and work spaces in close proximity –  have been attracting increasing numbers of technology startups, a trend that has been quickened by an official drive to establish the freshly-branded 22@ district as Barcelona’s innovation hub.

But I’m looking down at the avenue, not from the window of a co-working center populated by eager startups , but from the fifteenth floor of Diagonal Zero Zero, an office block that is largely occupied by  Telefonica.  The tower sits  at the western end of  Diagonal,  positioning the telecom giant close to the burgeoning Barcelona tech community.  And the location is appropriate. I’m here to talk to Pablo Rodriguez and his team at Alpha, an initiative that should see Telefonica forging links with an increasing number of startups and entrepreneurs, both in the city and elsewhere, to drive forward ambitious projects.

From Big Telco To Disruptive Player

Telefonica is, on one level, the epitome of ‘big telco’  As a former state-owned monopoly  it is more than accustomed to being the biggest player in its home market and since privatization it has expanded its operations across  Europe, Latin America and the US. But with  the core telecoms market – broadband, landlines, mobile, etc. –  becoming  increasingly commoditized, Telefonica is  keen to tap into the tech startup scene in, not least through an accelerator program known as Wayra.

And more recently, the company has given the green light to Alpha – essentially a variation on the Google X, corporate skunkworks theme, originally envisaged by CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete and now operating as a semi-autonomous unit with its own governance structure. The aim of Alpha is to  identify and bring to market  disruptive technologies and business models that have potential to change the world. To deliver on its vision,  Alpha aims to draw on the expertise of established entrepreneurs to guide its ideas from the drawing board to the big wide world.

Bringing in Entrepreneurs

As Alpha CEO Pablo Rodriguez explains when a project – dubbed a moonshot – it given a green light, the next stage is to appoint a captain – and typically that will be an entrepreneur.  “Our captains need to have experience in the field, “ he says. But they also need to be entrepreneurs. They need to have experience of entrepreneurship and they need to be able to put together a team.”

S,o what does all this mean in practice?

At any one time, the internal team at Alpha will be playing with perhaps 100  technology-focused ideas. Nothing, is off limits, You would expect a telecoms company to be looking at areas such as blockchain, the internet of things or big data, but the technologies under discussion also include, for instance, advances in neuroscience and what that means for human/machine interfaces.  These are worked up through a mix of ‘ideation’ sessions and informal discussions. Over time (and it’s a continuing process) the majority of ideas are quietly dropped, leaving perhaps a dozen, at any one times,  that might have legs. Roughly once a year  year, one will be chosen as a “moon shot” and funding allocated.  At that point the entrepreneurial captain will be appointed and a team created, and a map of the way ahead drawn up. “It is the captain who will lay out the 5-7 year plan and milestones along the way,” says Rodriguez.

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