Reinvention in the services area

22 Feb 2008

Bob Iannucci, head of the Nokia Research Center until his appointment as CTO in January, tells Joseph Waring how Nokia is taking its model as a device company and reinterpreting that on the services and software side

Telecom Asia: How does moving from being strictly a device manufacturer a few years ago and transitioning into services impact your research investment priorities‾

Bob Iannucci: We can look at it philosophically, and we can look at it pragmatically. Philosophically, you're right, we're making a very big change. We're not moving from devices, we're adding services and software to the world's most successful devices in business, and we think that there is a strong synergy between the two.

Our vision of what the internet will become is at first centered on the mobile experience and secondarily on a PC. So having the position we have, with the ability to put in some enabling software in our devices today so that 12 months from now 450 million new users will have that software in their hands, is really a profound way to approach the question of how does Nokia become a services and software company.

From a practical perspective, we have a lot of learning to do. It's one thing to be a device company, where our core strength is in our demand-supply network. But how does that translate into success on the services and software side‾ There is probably some new analog of that demand-supply network. But it's not the demand-supply network; in services and software it's more about content delivery, IP connectivity, authentication, single sign on, the kinds of things we're beginning to talk about in Ovi as being the equivalent of the demand-supply network.

So we're taking the model of who we are as a device company and we're reinterpreting that on the services and software side. But they're very different businesses in terms of how they operate: speed, skills, and in some sense they're complementary, but we have to run them respecting the fact that they're different.

How does that transition affect the types of people you're hiring‾

We have really anticipated this change. In the last three years we have actively augmented our skills in radio and device software and device user interface with new skills in Web 2.0 sorts of things. We built our Palo Alto lab specifically around software and services for mobile communities.

We're moving some of the people from our devices business who are interested in services and software. It's a combination of taking some of our existing people who now have the fire in the belly, if you will, to go after services and software, but we're actually bringing in new skills. We're looking for people who have image processing skills and understand context, user interfaces, etc.

A year ago you talked about the phone as a gateway between the physical world and the virtual word and said it would be a huge area. How has that played out‾

I'm pleased to say now the company recognizes much more directly the idea of having a device business and a services business that are linked.

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